vic_logo

Children with harmful sexual behaviours

The Victorian Government provides a trauma-informed and child-centred approach to preventing, identifying and responding to children with problem or abusive sexual behaviours. This approach is in line with the Royal Commission recommendations and focuses on preventing problem or abusive sexual behaviours occurring, intervening early when these behaviours first emerge, and enabling children to access assessment and therapeutic intervention.

The Victorian Government funds a suite of programs and services aimed at preventing problem or abusive sexual behaviours, or appropriately intervening if and when they occur. These programs and services are outlined below:

Table 2 - Victorian Government strategies and interventions for children displaying problem and abusive sexual behaviours

Primary prevention strategies

Primary prevention strategies target the whole community and aim to educate adults and children to help prevent children from engaging in problem or abusive sexual behaviours.

  • Sexuality education is compulsory in all government schools. Sexuality education can safeguard against sexual abuse, and is included in the Victorian curriculum at both primary and secondary school level. Schools also have access to resources relating to sexual health, anti-bullying and sexual assault.
  • Respectful relationships education is a core component of the Victorian curriculum and helps children identify their personal rights and responsibilities, teaches positive behaviours, and builds the knowledge and skills necessary for respectful decision-making. The Respectful Relationships initiative supports schools to teach children about respect and positive attitudes and behaviours.

Secondary prevention strategies

Secondary prevention focuses on early intervention to prevent children’s problematic sexual behaviour from escalating and becoming abusive.

  • Victoria’s sexually abusive behaviour treatment services provide assessment and therapeutic treatment to children under 18 years who engage in problem or abusive sexual behaviours. Just over 1000 children access these services in Victoria every year.

Tertiary interventions

Tertiary interventions include therapeutic treatment, as well as Child Protection or criminal justice system responses.

  • Therapeutic Treatment Orders require the child and their family to attend a sexually abusive behaviour treatment service if they are unlikely to, or are unable to, access it voluntarily.
  • When a child has been found guilty of a sexual offence and receives a youth justice supervised sentence, the court will include a condition to attend the Male Adolescent Program for Positive Sexuality, an intensive treatment program aimed at preventing reoffending. Girls and young women receive individualised intervention.

Victoria continues to work closely with the Australian Government and other states and territories on the development of a National Strategy to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse. The Royal Commission recommended that the issue of children with problem or abusive sexual behaviours be included in this national strategy. The Victorian Government will work with the Australian Government and other states and territories to establish a National Centre for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse.

Reviewed 18 December 2019

Was this page helpful?