Cheerful teenage friends enjoying outdoors

Problematic sexual behavior (PSB) is more than kids playing doctor or showing curiosity about private parts. PSB includes sexual behaviors that are beyond typical sexual development. A clear indication of a problem is when the behaviors are aggressive, intrusive, or coercive, and there is harm to the youth and others. The term is also used when youth display sexual behaviors that do not respond to parental intervention, or are frequent, intrusive, or occur among youth of disparate ages or abilities. There is hope through treatment.

Guidelines for Determining if Sexual Behaviors are a Problem

  • High Frequency
  • Excludes Normal Childhood Activities
  • Unresponsive (i.e., does not decrease) to Typical Parenting Strategies

Bonner(1995); Davies, Glaser, & Kossoff(2000); Friedrich (1997); Johnson(2004); Larsson & Svedin (2001)

  • Among Youth of Significantly Different Ages/Developmental Abilities
  • Longer in Duration than Developmentally Expected
  • Interferes with Social Development
  • Intrusive Behaviors
  • Use of Force, Intimidations, and/or Coercion
  • Elicits Fear or Anxiety in Other Children
Sexual behavior is a continuum
Causes of Problematic Sexual Behaviors

Examples of Problem Sexual Behaviors

  • Child who sexually touch themselves to the point of damage or harm.
  • Children who often “peek” on others
  • Sexual interactions that range from inappropriate touch to intercourse
  • Sexual behaviors that involve force or aggression

Behaviors Related to Sex & Sexuality

Resources below feature information on sexual behavior based on age. Click links below to view or download.