Currently this guidance is out of print; it is due for revision and will be available for 2020

These guidelines have been developed for Residential workers by the AIM project and Carol Carson.The remit of AIM is to explore means of responding consistently and effectively to children and young people who have problems with their sexual behaviour and may be harmful to themselves and others. It aims to ensure that all agencies working with these children and young people have a common understanding of the issues and a consistent and common framework for reporting, assessing and planning for the risk that they pose.


These guidelines are specifically about understanding and managing children and young people who display sexually problematic/ harmful behaviours in a residential care setting. They are based on the current information from research and practice; and have been developed through consultation and discussion with staff in residential homes in several different local authorities in the United Kingdom.

The guidelines are designed to:

  1. Give an overview of why children and young people may engage in these behaviours.
  2. Provide a checklist for staff to assess the level of concern they should have about the behaviour.
  3. Provide suggestions and tools for the management of these behaviours.
  4. Provide suggestions for undertaking individual work sessions.

These guidelines should be used in conjunction with the AIM policies and procedures for residential homes based in the Greater Manchester area, and with other relevant policies within homes; particularly the Sexual Health Policy; the Child Protection Policy; Bullying Policy; Behaviour Policy; and Equality and Diversity Policy.


Problematic and Harmful Sexual Behaviours

Sexual behaviour which causes concern may not always be harmful to others, some of it may be self- directed, and not all behaviours, which cause concern need intensive intervention. The challenge for Residential workers is to assess what level of behaviour is being displayed, who is at risk and what level of intervention is required. The terminology used in these guidelines reflects this concept of a continuum of concern with problematic describing lower level behaviours (sexual language; some one off actions) and some serious behaviours which may be self directed (persistent masturbation or focus on masturbatory activities) or behaviours directed at others (touching other children), but where there are balancing factors (lack of intent; or the understanding of the child/young person).

Harmful sexual behaviours are those, which are serious and cause hurt to self or others, and where there are little or no balancing factors for example; they are repetitive, planned etc. Within harmful there may be some young people over the age of 10 years old, who are alleged to have committed a sexual offence or have convictions for a sexual offence.


There is a section on useful resources for use in individual work at the end of the Individual work section. There is also a reference section at the end of the guidelines, which includes reading material for those who wish to read further.