Recognising Harmful Sexual Behaviour 

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With the new school year starting, teachers and professionals need to be aware of any harmful sexual behaviours among children and young people which may have taken place during the summer holidays.

In January this year, SWGfL launched the Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) Support Service to support teachers and professionals, in England, with advice and resources on how to deal with such behaviours. Alongside this, the service can also support with policy development to ensure that appropriate measures are in place in the future.  

The Harmful Sexual Behaviour Support Service Lead, Carmel Glassbrook said, “We’re going into a new academic year where we can create a better culture around harmful sexual behaviours with teachers and education professionals encouraging, listening and recognising patterns of such behaviours. It’s about recognising if a child needs help and creating a comfortable space for them to speak about it.” She said a spike in reports to the HSB Support Service can be experienced following a holiday break and said teachers should be aware of the following:

What To Be Aware Of 

Different Types of Harmful Sexual Behaviour 

As the new school year begins, it’s vital for professionals to understand the different types of harmful sexual behaviour, whether they are lower level or highly concerning behaviours. Harmful sexual behaviour may include:

It’s important to respond to incidents where young people are committing these forms of harmful sexual behaviour, but it is equally important to put the correct safeguarding measures in place to support young people affected by these incidents.

SWGfL and the Marie Collins Foundation have created guidance and resources to support professionals working with children and young people when responding to incidents or issues surrounding harmful sexual behaviours, and an online video training package, which provides support to professionals. If you have any queries please contact

If you have an online safety concern that is not associated with harmful sexual behaviour, you can always phone the Professionals Online Safety Helpline for advice.