Harmful sexual behaviour by children and young people: Expert Group report

This report sets out proposals from the Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People to improve prevention and early intervention in response to harmful sexual behaviour involving children and young people.


I owe considerable thanks to the many academics, policy makers and front line practitioners who have given so freely of their time and expertise to make presentations to the Group, to participate in the Sub Groups tasked with examining and reporting back specific topics and to those who presented at the Sounding Board event we held in October 2018.

Gratitude is due to those outwith the Group who led Sub Groups: Dr Peter Yates of Edinburgh Napier University and those at the HALT Service for assisting the Expert Group with their additional expert evidence.

It was also useful to receive a wide breadth of perspectives from the many people who invited us to participate in conferences on related topics and to visit their organisations.

Hearing the views of young people from many different communities and settings across Scotland was invaluable. I would like to thank those who responded to the two surveys created by the Expert Group; and all those who hosted and participated in the workshops at the Scottish Youth Parliament, Her Majesty's Young Offenders Institution Polmont, The Good Shepherd Centre, St Mary's Kenmure and Rossie Secure Accommodation. I was also very grateful to the staff and young people at Earlston High School for allowing me to observe their engagement with the Consent module of the National Sexual Violence Prevention Programme, delivered by Emma Kerr of Scottish Borders Rape Crisis Centre.

The Group and I particularly valued the support throughout of Fiona Dyer, Acting Director of the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, who also contributed as an expert, and the assistance from Scottish Government members of the Secretariat led by Lucy Smith.

The provision of excellent secure IT support to me by COPFS was also a vital ingredient.

My sincere thanks also to the families of children and young people who shared their experiences with me, as a result of introductions from some Group members. Their children and young people included those who had been harmed and those who had caused harm to others. Their personal stories confirmed how devastating and long lasting the effects can be for all involved, the need for clarity and consistency about what public authorities' responses will be in such sensitive situations, to ensure that the needs of both children or young people are met, as well as those of public safety; and the wish that prevention measures available at the time had succeeded.

Catherine Dyer CBE
July 2019


The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily shared by the Scottish Government.


Email: Child_Protection@gov.scot

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