New programme to tackle problematic sexual behaviour in children

Thursday, 28 February 2013

A new programme to tackle worrying sexual behaviour in children is launched on March 1 by North Bristol NHS Trust and Barnardo’s South West.

The Be Safe Children’s Service received £444,500 from the Big Lottery Realising Ambition fund to set up a specialist treatment programme in Bristol and South Gloucestershire as part of the Children’s Community Health Partnership (CCHP).

The Be Safe Service has been delivering services to teenagers with harmful sexual behaviour and their families over the last 5 years.

The new funding will enable the service to launch an innovative intervention programme to work with younger children, aged eight to 12 years old, who behave in a sexually harmful way towards other children, and their parents or caregivers.

The programme has been developed in the United States by the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Centre and provides cognitive behavioural and psychological treatment and support to eliminate or reduce problematic sexual behaviour in children.

The Be Safe Service works with several agencies including Barnardos South West, Bristol and South Gloucestershire CYPS, Bristol & South Gloucestershire Youth Offending Teams, NHS Bristol and Avon and Somerset Police.

Stephen Barry, North Bristol NHS Trust’s Specialist Clinician for the Be Safe Service, said:  “We know that children who behave in a sexually harmful way towards other children are often victims of abuse themselves, and this could be sexual, physical, emotional abuse, exposure to domestic abuse and/or neglect.  Although this is not always the case.

”It is important therefore that we work in partnership with other organisations to reach some of the most troubled young people in the community,  identify harmful behaviour and provide the support and treatment needed to deal with it at an early stage 

“This is an innovative approach to meet a significant gap in service provision for this group of children, whilst ensuring that what is being offered actually makes a difference.”

Annie Hudson, Bristol City Council Strategic Director for Children and Young People, said: “Be Safe is a tried and trusted service for professionals who work with children to make referrals when young people show worrying sexual behaviour. 

“By extending the service to younger children we now have greater opportunities to tackle the issue early in life to help prevent problems later on.”

Be Safe Service

The Be Safe Service is a multi-agency partnership service managed by North Bristol NHS Trust with support from Barnardos, Bristol Youth Offending Team, Bristol Children and Young People’s Service, Bristol NHS, and Avon and Somerset Police.  Be Safe works with children and young people with problematic/harmful sexual behaviour and their parents/carers offering direct assessment and intervention services, and training and consultation to a broad range of professionals.  For the purposes of the Children’s Programme South Gloucestershire City Council and Children’s Safeguarding Board join North Bristol NHS Trust and Be Safe’s other partner in supporting the delivery of the programme.