New report on preventing harmful sexual behaviour

23 January, 2020

The Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People has released a report with recommendations to reduce harmful sexual behaviour caused by children and young people.

Victim Support Scotland is a member of the Expert Group, which is made up of national government representatives, statutory agencies, justice agencies and third sector organisations. The Group is calling for more preventative activity tailored for boys and young men, given that male adolescents account for the majority of perpetrators displaying harmful sexual behaviour.

The report also recommends:

  • providing effective support for parents and carers to keep their children safe
  • ensuring frontline practitioners are confident about how best to prevent harm
  • reviewing the steps that can be taken to best achieve prevention rather than intervention after the harm has occurred

In response to the report, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has called for collaborative working between statutory authorities, professional disciplines and the justice sector to reduce seduce sexual harm caused by children and young people.

He has also announced plans for a multi-agency group to oversee prevention and support work for parents, carers and practitioners such as such as teachers and social workers. The group will draw on expertise across sectors to embed implementation within existing work to tackle gender-based violence and all forms of child abuse.

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, commented: “We welcome this report at a time where several initiatives are underway in Scotland to support vulnerable children coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

“The impact and long-term effects of crimes towards a child are substantially damaging and long lasting, regardless of the circumstances of the offender.  We must recognise that an offence against a person is still an offence regardless of age or circumstance.  I would encourage more recognition towards the support and risk assessment to the victim’s needs and future outlook.  The safety, wellbeing and rights of every victim must be recognised in any subsequent outcome.

“Victim Support Scotland would want assurances that victims of crime receive adequate information regarding their offenders, in relation to 16-17 year olds in the Children’s Hearing System, similar to what is available when the perpetrator of the crime is an adult. There is currently little information given out when an offender is part of the Children’s Hearing System, rather than the criminal justice system.”