When a Child or Teen's Sexual Behavior is Harmful to Another...
1. Learn why some children sexually abuse others
Children may engage in sexually harmful interactions without knowing or understanding that they are hurting another child. With the help of a professional, the specific circumstances and the individual children involved can be considered. When the causes of a child’s sexually concerning behavior are better understood, we are better able to help stop the behavior and prevent future harm.
Read Do Children Sexually Abuse Other Children to learn more about why a child might act in sexually harmful ways.
2. Find help for the child who may have abused
It is essential to act promptly. There is help available for children whose sexual behaviors are concerning or abusive. Finding specialized help for the child/teen and their family supplies the guidance and learning needed to make everyone safer now. Specialized therapy can help you understand your child’s sexual behaviors and give your family new tools and insights into how to best stay safe and protect others.
3. Respond to the child who has been abused
What you say and do in response to hearing about the abuse has a direct impact on the abused child. The child will look to you for cues that they are believed and will be okay. By responding carefully and thoughtfully, you give a child a significant advantage as they begin their process of recovery. With protection, support and specialized treatment, children can – and do – recover.
Learn more about helping a child who has been abused.
4. Make a plan to prevent further harm
There are ways of establishing safety within your home, and with the guidance from specialized professionals you can learn ways of supervising family members effectively. New family agreements can help everyone feel better about being together. Bringing the abuse to the attention of authorities may bring new rules or family arrangements designed to prevent further harm and promote recovery. When you design and supervise a family safety plani, you take the responsibility to create a safe environment and to challenge unsafe behaviors.
Learn more about creating safety for a child with sexual behavior concerns.
5. Prepare for possible legal outcomes
Children need help, not punishment, to learn how to control harmful sexual impulses. Learning what could happen next helps you make informed decisions about what steps to take now. Knowing what options you have and what decisions must be made will enable you to make the best choices so the abuse will stop and everyone can get help. To learn about what could happen in your specific situation, or to clarify legal uncertainties, talk to clinical specialists or legal professionals who know.
Learn more about a possible legal response: National Juvenile Justice Network.