Children and Youth Struggling with Unsafe or Harmful Sexual Behaviors

You can help a child who has sexual behavior problems.

If you know a child and youth who demonstrates sexual behavior problems, you can help them to learn new healthy and safe behaviors. It's important for parents and other caregiving adults to act promptly to address a young person's sexual behaviors. Treatment providers who specialize in children's sexual behaviors can help both the child and the family address and change at-risk behaviors as well as design safety plans to help the family maintain a safe environment.

Children and youth engage in sexual problem behaviors for often very different reasons than adult offenders. Behaviors that are sexual and harmful in youth may be a result of other issues such as impulsivity, social skill deficits, family trauma, etc. Qualified youth treatment providers can make assessments to help determine the nature of the behavior.  

Besides looking for specialists in children's sexual behaviors, it is important to look for youth treatment providers that are:

  • Accessible
  • Affordable (accepted by guardian's insurance if applicable)
  • Understands child/adolescent development
  • Experienced in working with families
  • Reputable

Treatment for children and youth is dependent on family involvement and commitment. With education, support, and treatment children and youth can learn new behaviors that are healthy and safe. It's important to get children and youth professional treatment and help.

Learn more:

Many parents also find help and guidance in PARENTtalk, a previous Stop It Now! publication for parents who share the experience of parenting a child with sexual problem behaviors.


National Center of the Sexual Behavior of Youth (NCSBY)

Information and resources for youth, parents, and professionals on sexual behavior problems in youth.

MASOC (Massachusetts Society for a World Free of Sexual Harm by Youth)

Archived online training workshops from NEARI Press.

Parent2Parent Toolkit (NEARI Press)

Resources for parents of children exhibiting sexually concerning, problematic, or abusive behaviors.

Children with Sexual Behavior Problems: Fact and Information Page (Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers)

Information about children with sexual behavior problems.

Understanding Children's Sexual Behaviors: Guidebooks

Guidebooks on healthy sexuality development by Toni Cavanaugh Johnson, PhD, an expert in children's sexual behaviors

Find a PSB-CBT Provider (NCSBY)

Resource listing for treatment providers specializing in youth with sexually problematic or abusive behavior.

Treatment Referrals (Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers)

Referrals for treatment for adults or youth who have sexually offended.

What Happens Now: Facing Sexual Behavior Problems with Your Child (National Children's Alliance)

Pamphlet that discusses next steps for parents of children exhibiting sexually unsafe behavior. 

Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute Reading Resources (Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute)

Books and literature on child sexual abuse.

Sex Specific Treatment for Youth: Article (Child Molestation Research and Prevention Institute)

Information on what sex specific treatment can offer youth with sexual problem behavior.

Where to Find Help for Your Child: Article

Information on locating mental health and treatment resources for children.