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Published, 23 January 2020

Expert Group report on preventing harmful sexual behaviour

The Scottish Government has published and responded today (23 January) to a report by the Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People, which Scottish Government commissioned.

The report 'Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) by children and young people’, makes recommendations to improve prevention and early intervention in response to HSB, including:

  • Developing more preventative activity aimed at boys and young men, acknowledging that the majority of adolescents displaying harmful sexual behaviour are male
  • Offering support to parents and carers to help them to keep their children safe
  • Training frontline practitioners to support them to feel confident about how to best prevent harm
  • A review of preventative steps, to make sure the focus is on prevention instead of intervening after harm has already occurred

Justice Secretary Humza Yousarf has responded to the report saying that Scotland should pioneer a public health response to tackle the problem of harmful sexual behaviour, taking lessons from the current public health approach to tackling violent crime amongst young people.

To address the group’s recommendations, he has also announced a new multi-agency group to oversee work around prevention and support for parents, carers, and practitioners including teachers and social workers.

The Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People was established in 2017 after research commissioned by the Scottish Government highlighted that sexual crimes had increased, and further research found that online crimes with younger perpetrators and victims had also increased.

The Group was commissioned to examine the existing responses to harmful sexual behaviour by young people, for both the young person causing harm and to the person it is directed towards, and to make recommendations for further actions to prevent and respond to this type of behaviour in the future. This work was completed last summer.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has responded to the report saying that Scotland should pioneer a public health response to tackle the problem of harmful sexual behaviour, taking lessons from the current public health approach to tackling violent crime amongst young people.

To address the group’s recommendations, he has also announced a new multi-agency group to oversee work around prevention and support for parents, carers, and practitioners including teachers and social workers

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