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Harmful sexual behaviour in childhood and adolescence: identifying, understanding and responding in the digital age

Simon Hackett 


Concern about harmful sexual behaviour in childhood is, perhaps, at an all-time high. In some jurisdictions, cases of young people coming to the attention of the criminal justice system because of their sexual behaviour now outstrip those of adult sexual offenders. Increasing concern about young people’s ‘technology assisted’ and ‘online’ sexual behaviours challenge orthodox thinking about the origins, manifestations and responses to the problem. Drawing on his own and others’ research, Simon will take stock of current evidence, theoretical models and practices for children and young people displaying harmful sexual behaviours. Arguing that a developmental and contextual approach is vital, Simon will discuss ways in which harmful sexual behaviour may be better conceptualised and identified, and what this means for intervention responses.


Simon Hackett, Professor of Child Abuse and Neglect at Durham University, UK. His work and research in relation to sexual abuse and harmful sexual behaviour in childhood is internationally known. He is immediate past Chair of NOTA in the UK and Republic of Ireland and is currently a member of the ATSA Board. Simon is first author of the NSPCC harmful sexual behaviour framework, designed to improve multi-agency responses to children and families. Simon is co-author of the 2019 AIM3 Assessment Model with Marcella Leonard.