Topic: Teen Sexual Harm
(aka Peer on Peer Sexual Assault and Harassment)
This toolkit aims to support and assist education staff, partner agencies and CYP practitioners in their work with children, young people and families. Further information, advice and resources specific to Teen Sexual Harm can be accessed via the additional resources button on this page.
Teen Sexual Harm can be described as:
“Any behaviour of a sexual nature between under 18s, of any gender, which causes assault or harassment to a child or group of children”.
The term ‘behaviour of a sexual nature’, can include actions which are unintentional, mistaken or excused by young people as ‘a bit of a joke’ or ‘banter’, but which can have a detrimental effect on the those involved.
Concerns have been raised nationally regarding the increase in sexualised behaviour and offences being committed among under 18s both in school and in their social life. The number of reported sexual offences by under 18s against other under 18s in England and Wales rose by 71% between 2013 and 2017, and the number of sexual offences on school premises also increased by 138% from 386 to 922 offences.
Many professionals and practitioners are of the opinion that online access to pornography and other inappropriate sexual content, has contributed to earlier sexualisation of children, along with other factors such as peer pressure and media influences which some say have contributed to normalising concerning sexualised behaviour.
Experiencing peer sexual abuse can significantly impact a young person, including symptoms associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Young people can often be confused whether they have experienced peer sexual abuse or not and may be reluctant to tell anyone.
Settings and scenarios linked to incidents of Teen Sexual Harm include those listed below; click on each one for an example of how this could happen.