Problematic and harmful sexual behaviours include behaviours that are outside of the expected range of sexual behaviour for a child or young person’s level of development, and may harm the child themselves, other children subjected to this behaviour, or place either child/children at risk of harm. These behaviours include forced, compulsive or coercive penetrative and non-penetrative sexual acts, violation of privacy and exposure to sexual acts and materials. These behaviours are often with other individuals who the child or young person has power over by virtue of age, emotional maturity, gender, physical strength, or intellect and where the victim in this relationship has suffered a betrayal of trust. For children aged ten years and older, some of these behaviours may constitute a crime.
Children and young people aged 10-17 years are differentiated as a group from children under the age of 10 years of age. This is related both to the age of criminal responsibility being 10 years old in Australian jurisdictions, and to developmental considerations.
NSW Health delivers the New Street program for children and young people aged 10-17 years who have engaged in harmful sexual behaviours who, for a range of reasons, have not been criminally prosecuted. This program delivers an evidence-based therapeutic response that works with children and young people to assist them to understand, acknowledge, take responsibility for and cease the harmful sexual behaviour.
NSW Health delivers a range of responses for children under ten who exhibit problematic or harmful sexual behaviours. Depending on the child’s individual needs, support is delivered by Sexual Assault Services, Child Protection Counselling Services, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and Child and Family Services.