What kinds of sexual behaviour are a problem?
You might be worried that your child, or another young person, is doing sexual things that are wrong or hurting someone.
It can sometimes be hard to know if this is the case, or whether in fact their behaviour is a normal part of teenage development that you don’t need to be worried about.
The questions below are here to help – if the answer is ‘yes’ to any of them, there is reason for at least initial concern and a further exploration of what is going on.
- Are they more able than the other person to get things they want, or to prevent things they don’t? – for example, because they’re significantly older, more sober, or more dominating?
- Are they disregarding or minimizing the other person’s feelings?
- Are they using deception or trickery; repetitive persuasion; isolation; or threat, intimidation or force, over a period of time or in the moment, to get the other person to do something sexual with them?
- Are they saying or doing things which make it hard for the other person to tell anyone else about the sexual activity?
- Did one or both people feel negative during the sexual activity? – for example, angry, depressed, ashamed or scared?
Consider whether their behaviour fits with the basic principles of healthy sexual behaviour.
Here are some examples of harmful sexual behaviour in teens (they would each merit a ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions above):
- Sharing sexual images of someone without their consent
- Sharing sexual images of themselves without the recipient being clear that they would like to see them
- Pretending love or liking for someone so they agree to sexual activity
- Viewing sexual images of children online
- Having sexual activity with someone who is significantly more drunk than themselves
- Befriending a younger child in order to engage in sexual activity and asking them not to tell
- Having sexual activity with someone who passively ‘lets’ it happen
- Touching someone’s bottom, breasts or crotch area without in-the-moment indications that the touching is desired