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Understanding Sexual Behaviour in the under 12’s NOTA N.I. CONFERENCE 25.11.15 CHILD CARE CENTRE Anne Morrison THE CHILD CARE CENTRE SERVICES OFFERED Investigation and treatment of sexual abuse (children 3 – 13 years) Consultation Training Terminology Sexually aggressive children Sexual offenders Children who molest Sexually precocious children Child Perpetrators Sexually Inappropriate Behaviour Sexualised Children Terminology Healthy Problematic Harmful Attitudes Minimising Punitive Dismissive Fearful Responses Ignore Isolate Punish Reject Over-React Over-Supervise Children with sexual behaviour problems represent a diverse group. The behaviours are on a continuum from self-stimulation through to sexually aggressive children who are intrusive and coercive Normal Sexual Development Normal developmental sequencing of the acquisition of sexual behaviour has been described as: beginning with interest and attention to elimination functions, progressing to an awareness of sexual body parts, including masturbation in pre-school children. Normal sexual development - exploration that occurs spontaneously intermittent non coercive does not cause emotional distress not a pre-occupation not involve advanced sexual behaviour usually responds to normal correction from adults Harmful sexual behaviour - - - more adult-type sexual behaviour can involve aggression, coercion, force is associated with distress in child/other children secrecy elements may be age or developmental inequality can be persistent Impact of Social Media ? Children with sexual behaviour problems are not “sex offenders”. They should not be compared with adult offenders. These children are different in a number of ways - Limited Cognitive Development More likely to engage in impulsive sexual activity Intentions and motivations are different Behaviour may be related to curiosity, anxiety, imitation, attention-seeking, self-calming Why do children engage is sexually problematic behaviour? Some years ago it was believed that children who demonstrated this behaviour had been sexually abused themselves. A definite link exists but not all children presenting with such behaviour have experienced sexual abuse. Research indicates contributing factors – - physical abuse - neglect - living in highly sexualised environment - family nudity - domestic violence - exposure to sexually explicit media - part of a pattern of disruptive behavioural problems - direct sexual abuse What is clear is children with sexual behaviour problems have significant emotional and behavioural difficulties. 2013 Referrals = 76 Referrals Gender – Total 76 Total Referrals Presentation - Investigation Presentation - Therapy Outcomes - Explicit Outcomes – No Behaviours For children who have experienced sexual abuse addressing their sexually problematic behaviour is one part of a treatment strategy Challenge for Professionals To recognise harmful or dangerous behaviours without minimising them. Avoid identifying and labelling age appropriate behaviours as deviant or warranting punishment. Offer appropriate intervention.