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Harmful sexual behaviour

Harmful sexual behaviour

Find out about what harmful sexual behaviour is and what you can do if this is something you are worried about.

In this topic


Is it always harmful for young people to be involved in sexual behaviour?


What is harmful sexual behaviour?


How can harmful sexual behaviour affect people?


Why do children and young people have harmful sexual behaviours?


What should I do if I’m worried about my own harmful sexual behaviour? Or someone else’s?

Frequently asked questions

I’ve got into trouble for my sexual behaviour, will I have to leave school?

If you have got into trouble for your sexual behaviour you may be feeling worried about what this means for you at school. What happens next will depend on your behaviour and your school’s policies. It is important that you, your parents or carers and the professionals at your school work together to make plans that keep everyone involved safe. You may not have to leave school, but the professionals at school may need to complete a risk assessment and a safety plan, which will look at how you and others in school can be kept safe.

You can use our email service anonymously to talk more about your situation or check out other helpful organisations page to find out where else you can get support.

How can you help me change my sexual behaviour?

You are likely feeling a mix of emotions about your behaviour and what you may have done. You may be unsure if you have caused harm to someone else or yourself. We can talk together, to understand what has happened and why. We can help you set goals, which you can work towards to help change your behaviour.

We also can help you develop a safety plan and put boundaries around yourself to prevent you getting into trouble again.

Finally, we can help you focus on creating and building a positive life to move forward, be happy and achieve success. If you want to read more about this and learn how to set yourself goals, this can be found on our page, building a good life.

If you feel ready to talk to us, you can use our email service. The person you’re contacting won’t know who you are.  

We also encourage you to speak with someone you are close to and who is a safe, trusted adult about what has happened and how you are feeling. You can also look at our pages which help support you with what to do if you have harmed someone sexually, or online sexual behaviour.

I’m in trouble with the police for my sexual behaviour, what will happen to me?

You may feel worried and upset that you have got into trouble with the police. We can help support you with your situation.

When a person is in trouble with the police there can be different outcomes, depending on your individual situation, including your age and the behaviour you carried out. Every situation is different and if you would like help to understand more about this and speak to someone privately, you can use our  email service. The person you’re contacting won’t know who you are.  

Check out our page on what to do if you’re in trouble with the police to learn more about this topic. It can be difficult or feel overwhelming to read about the police and legal processes, so we encourage you to get the support of a safe, trusted adult you are close to when looking at this information.

It also is really important that you look after yourself and get help if you need it. You can get support from Young Minds, Kooth or Childline. You can also look at our pages on dealing with regrets about harmful sexual behaviour and managing difficult emotions to find out more about how to manage any difficult feelings you may have.

What do I do if someone’s shared a sexual picture of me or someone I know online?

If you’re under 18 and someone has shared a sexual picture of you or a friend, let an adult know immediately so that they can support you. Childline and IWF’s Report Remove tool is here to help young people under 18 confidentiality report sexual images and videos of themselves to see if they can be removed from the internet.
This can be a distressing and uncertain time, so it’s important that you take care of your mental health and make sure that you have the support of your friends and family. Visit Young Minds for more advice and tips on how to cope during difficult times.

Need urgent help?
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or a crime has been committed, call 999 straight away. Do not wait. Non emergency help can be found on our I need help now page or you can chat to an expert anonymous online.