Problematic sexual behaviour

Problematic sexual behaviour is what we consider unhealthy.

Sexual behaviour which causes concern can be described several ways. Oftentimes it is fitting to describe the behaviours or actions as violating, other times it is better to describe the behaviour as unhealthy. What term should be applied depends on the context and purpose behind the application.

Examples of this are behaviours appearing with worrying intensity and frequency, or which does not coincide with age- or developmentally appropriate maturity.

Another example is disparity of dominance, for instance if one party behaves threateningly or bargains (i.e. with clothes or candy), in order to convince the other party to partake in sexual activities. This kind of sexualized behaviour must always be reviewed in context, since the act itself could be normal and inconspicuous, but inappropriate in the situation or relation it appears in.

Problematic sexual behaviours – examples

Children under 5 years

  • Touching the genitals/private parts
    of other children
  • Preoccupation with sexual behaviours
  • Explicit sexual talk, art or play

Children between 5 and 9 years

  • Masturbation in preference to other activities,
    in public and with others 
  • Persistent questions about sexuality despite
    being answered
  • Pulling other children’s pants down or skirts up
    against their will

Children between 9 and 12 years

  • persistent explicit talk, art or play which is
    sexual or sexually intimidating
  • Accessing age restricted materials e.g. movies,
    games, internet with sexually explicit content
  • Engaging in sexual activities with an unknown
    peer e.g. deep kissing, mutual masturbation

Children between 13 and 18 years

  • Sexual preoccupation which interferes with
    daily function
  • Explicit communications, art or actions which
    are obscene or sexually intimidating
  • Using mobile phones and internet to send or
    receive sexual images of another person with
    their consent
  • Intentional spying on others while they are
    engaged in sexual activity or nudity
  • Unsafe sexual behaviour, including unprotected
    sex, sexual activity while intoxicated, multiple
    partners and/or frequent change of partner

More examples of sexual behaviours in children and young people are to be found in “Traffic Lights”. “Traffic Lights” is a guide to identify, understand and respond to sexual behaviours. 

Trafikklyset (Norwegian)

Traffic Lights (English)

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Watch and observe

When concerned about problematic sexual behaviour, it is important to watch and observe.

Gathering the necessary information is important if you end up having to take measures, as well as to be supportive and give guidance toward a healthy and normal sexuality. When it comes to children and young people, it is important that adults be unambiguous, caring and consistent. Correcting unfortunate developmental patterns in regard to sexuality early, will help the child achieve sexual pleasure and understanding, in addition to preventing later violations.

Information provided by someone else is also sufficient cause for worry. The adult then needs to show they care, along with being available to talk when the child needs it or is ready to open up. Ask open questions and let the child speak. Believe in and support the child.

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Talk about sexuality

Providing guidance about sexuality and healthy sexual behaviour is important to develop a healthy sexuality and prevent violations. Having confident, respectful adults acting as role-models of sexual behaviour and language is good. So are adults who give honest and concise answers to children’s questions about body and sexuality.

There is a need for exploratory conversations when children in some way signal their discomfort about something. Such signs can be something the child said or showed, outbursts, pulling away, school refusal or sexualized behaviour. Information provided by someone else is also sufficient cause for worry. The adult then needs to show they care, along with being available to talk when the child needs it or is ready to open up. Ask open questions and let the child speak. Believe in and support the child. Remember to also document questions and answers in the event of further investigation. If you suspect someone of having suffered a sexual assault, call the Child Welfare Service and express your worries. You can do this anonymously. The Child Welfare Service will advise you if you are in doubt of what to do next.

Dette skal du gjøre

Vi skal handle når barn og unges seksuelle handlinger gjør oss bekymret. På bakgrunn av kontekst og innhentet informasjon er det nødvendig å iverksette hensiktsmessige tiltak. Eksempler på tiltak kan være:

  • Støtte, veiledning og ivaretakelse av begge parter. Ofte er det tilstrekkelig når en voksen veileder og leder aktivitet i positiv retning.
  • Unngå å påføre opplevelse av skam og skyld. Målsetning er å tilrettelegge for sunn og positiv seksuell utvikling.
  • Snakk om kropp, grenser, samtykke og gjensidighet.
  • Veiledning om seksualitet og god seksuell atferd, er nødvendig for å utvikle en sunn seksualitet.
  • Det er bra med trygge voksne som rollemodeller knyttet til seksuelle holdninger og språk.
  • Voksne kan gi alderstilpassede, konkrete og ærlige svar på barns spørsmål om kropp og seksualitet.
  • Det er klokt å drøfte med en kollega eller leder. Det er nyttig å få flere perspektiver og at man kan være to som fordeler oppgaver. Mistenker du at noen har blitt utsatt for seksuelle overgrep, så ring til barnevernet eller andre ressursenheter og drøft din bekymring. Det er fullt mulig å diskutere en sak på generelt grunnlag. Barnevernet og andre vil gi deg råd dersom du er i tvil om hva du skal gjøre.
  • For barn og unge er det bra at voksne er tydelige, omsorgsfulle og konsekvente.
  • Å snu uheldige utviklingsmønstre i forhold til seksualitet på et tidlig tidspunkt, vil hjelpe barnet til seksuell glede, mestring og vil beskytte mot krenkelser.
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Hjelpemidler

Det finnes gode hjelpemidler til bruk i samtaler og arbeid med barn og unge om tema seksualitet, inkludert seksualitet som gjør oss bekymret. Verktøy er ulikt tilpasset målgruppe og bruksområder. Du finner flere nettressurser og verktøy i toppmenyen. 

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