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Ground-breaking research, led by Professor Simon Hackett from our Department of Sociology into children and young people with harmful sexual behaviour has transformed policy and practice in the UK.

Through the extensive uptake of core concepts and evidence, this pioneering work has led to a paradigm shift in professional responses towards this group of children, as well as significant developments in policy and service delivery frameworks throughout the UK, Europe and Australia.

Supporting and protecting children

Sexual abuse affects significant numbers of children globally. When children sexually abuse or harm other children, it is important to help them understand and address their behaviour.

Our Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse has undertaken a long-term programme of research into the issue of children who present with harmful sexual behaviour.

The research highlights the lack of official guidance and policy responses to the issue and revealed worrying gaps in service and inconsistencies in how young people with harmful sexual behaviour have been managed across localities and regions.

The study identifies factors which could have the most positive influences the lives of children who present with harmful sexual behaviour, and stresses on the importance of long-term professional support, stable partner relationships, educational success, and stable employment.

Improved public policy and enhanced awareness

The research has contributed to the development of the first ever national-level public health guidelines on the topic of harmful sexual behaviour, published by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

It has also resulted in the establishment of a screening tool, the Hackett continuum of sexual behaviour, and the AIM3 assessment framework that has been adopted throughout the UK and internationally by a wide range of professionals working with this issue.

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