Scoping Review of the Definitions Used to Describe and Understand Harmful Sexual Behaviors in Children and Young People

Journal article


Hunt, Gabrielle, Higgins, Daryl John, Willis, Megan Louise and Harris, Lottie. (2023). Scoping Review of the Definitions Used to Describe and Understand Harmful Sexual Behaviors in Children and Young People. Trauma, Violence and Abuse: a review journal. pp. 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1177/15248380231218294
AuthorsHunt, Gabrielle, Higgins, Daryl John, Willis, Megan Louise and Harris, Lottie
Abstract

There is a growing body of evidence that adolescents, and other children, are responsible for a significant proportion of sexual abuse against children. However, there are substantial differences in how this phenomenon is defined and conceptualized between and within sectors. This scoping review explored the current definitions of harmful sexual behaviors (HSB), and other similar terms, used across a range of stakeholder groups. In all, 141 papers were reviewed from both empirical and gray literature sources, including key policy and practice documents. Included papers needed to list a clear definition for the behavior of interest. There was disagreement and inconsistency across the included papers in their conceptualization of harmful, abusive, or problematic sexual behavior (PSB) in children and adolescents. Although the term HSB has been adopted as an umbrella term or continuum in many policy, practice, and research settings, there is a large variance in behaviors, treatment needs, etiology, and harms present across different types of sexual behavior. Relying solely on one term to describe a wide range of sexual behaviors in children and young people may limit the understanding of this issue and imply similarities between groups that are not present. We suggest that clearly defined subsets of HSB, such as sexual abuse, technology-assisted HSB, and PSB, may give more context to the behavior of concern and may be helpful in informing further research, prevention, and best practice approaches.

Keywordssexual abuse; sexual assault; prevention of child abuse; offenders; youth violence
Year01 Jan 2023
JournalTrauma, Violence and Abuse: a review journal
Journal citationpp. 1-15
PublisherSage Publications, Inc. (US)
ISSN1524-8380
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1177/15248380231218294
Web address (URL)https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/15248380231218294
Open accessPublished as ‘gold’ (paid) open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range1-15
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File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online28 Dec 2023
Publication process dates
Deposited12 Feb 2024
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Open
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© The Author(s) 2023.

Creative Commons License (CC BY 4.0)
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).

Place of publicationUnited Kingdom
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Conceptualising the prevention of child sexual abuse
Quadara, Antonia, Nagy, Vicky, Higgins, Daryl and Siegel, Natalie. (2015). Conceptualising the prevention of child sexual abuse Australia: Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
The contribution of emotional empathy to approachability judgments assigned to emotional faces is context specific
Willis, Megan, Lawson, Danielle, Ridley, Nicole, Koval, Peter and Rendell, Peter. (2015). The contribution of emotional empathy to approachability judgments assigned to emotional faces is context specific. Frontiers in Psychology (online). 6, pp. 1 - 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01209
Anodal tDCS targeting the right orbitofrontal cortex enhances facial expression recognition
Willis, Megan L., Murphy, Jillian M., Ridley, Nicole J. and Vercammen, Ans. (2015). Anodal tDCS targeting the right orbitofrontal cortex enhances facial expression recognition. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience. 10(12), pp. 1677 - 1683. https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsv057
A public health approach to enhancing safe and supportive family environments for children
Higgins, Daryl J.. (2015). A public health approach to enhancing safe and supportive family environments for children. Family Matters. 96, pp. 39 - 52.
Situational context and perceived threat modulate approachability judgements to emotional faces
Willis, Megan, Windsor, Natalie, Lawson, Danielle and Ridley, Nicole. (2015). Situational context and perceived threat modulate approachability judgements to emotional faces. PLoS One (online). 10(6), pp. 1 - 15. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0131472
The Stronger Families in Australia (SFIA) study: Phase 2
Edwards, Ben, Mullan, Killian, Katz, Lian and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). The Stronger Families in Australia (SFIA) study: Phase 2 Australia: Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
Complex family issues: Collective awareness, common narratives and coordinated approaches to promoting resilience
Hayes, Alan and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Complex family issues: Collective awareness, common narratives and coordinated approaches to promoting resilience. In In A. Hayes and D. Higgins (Ed.). Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia pp. 299 - 303 Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
Weaving a common narrative: An introduction to essays on families, policy and the law in Australia
Hayes, Alan and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Weaving a common narrative: An introduction to essays on families, policy and the law in Australia. In Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia pp. 1 - 4 Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
The nature of facial expression recognition deficits following orbitofrontal cortex damage
Willis, Megan, Palermo, Romina, McGrillen, Ky and Miller, Laurie. (2014). The nature of facial expression recognition deficits following orbitofrontal cortex damage. Neuropsychology. 28(4), pp. 613 - 623. https://doi.org/10.1037/neu0000059
Past adoption practices: Implications for current interventions
Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Past adoption practices: Implications for current interventions. 36(4), pp. 8 - 11.
Contemporary issues in child protection intake, referral and family support
Bromfield, Leah, Arney, Fiona and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Contemporary issues in child protection intake, referral and family support. In In A. Hayes and D. Higgins (Ed.). Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia pp. 121 - 129 Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
Reform, (r)evolution and lingering Effects: Family policies in Australia
Higgins, Daryl J.. (2014). Reform, (r)evolution and lingering Effects: Family policies in Australia. In In M. Robila (Ed.). Handbook of family policies across the globe pp. 335 - 353 Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6771-7_22
Past adoption practices: Key messages for service delivery responses and current policies
Kenny, Pauline and Higgins, Daryl. (2014). Past adoption practices: Key messages for service delivery responses and current policies. In In A. Hayes and D. Higgins (Ed.). Families, policy and the law: Selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia pp. 29 - 38 Australian Institute of Family Studies, Australian Government.
Multi-type maltreatment and polyvictimisation: A comparison of two research frameworks
Price-Robertson, Rhys, Higgins, Daryl J. and Vassallo, Suzanne. (2013). Multi-type maltreatment and polyvictimisation: A comparison of two research frameworks. Family Matters. 93, pp. 84 - 98.
Past adoption experiences: Impacts, insights and implications for policy and practice
Kenny, Pauline, Higgins, Daryl, Sweid, Reem and Soloff, Carol. (2013). Past adoption experiences: Impacts, insights and implications for policy and practice. Children and Families Australia. 7(1), pp. 35 - 46.
The relationship between anxiety and the social judgements of approachability and trustworthiness
Willis, Megan, Dodd, Helen F. and Palermo, Romina. (2013). The relationship between anxiety and the social judgements of approachability and trustworthiness. PLoS ONE. 8(10), pp. 1 - 5. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076825
Past adoption experiences: Impacts, insights and implications for policy and practice
Kenny, Pauline, Higgins, Daryl, Sweid, Reem and Soloff, Carol. (2013). Past adoption experiences: Impacts, insights and implications for policy and practice. Communities, Children and Families. 7(1), pp. 35 - 46.
Families make all the difference: Helping kids to grow and learn
Baxter, Jennifer, Higgins, Daryl J. and Hayes, Alan. (2012). Families make all the difference: Helping kids to grow and learn. Family Matters. 90, pp. 98 - 105.
Child abuse and neglect in Australia's Northern Territory: The Northern Territory Emergency Response
Higgins, Daryl and Scott, Debbie. (2012). Child abuse and neglect in Australia's Northern Territory: The Northern Territory Emergency Response. In In H. Dubowitz (Ed.). World perspectives on child abuse pp. 69 - 75 International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
Contemporary militant extremism: A linguistic approach to scale development
Stankov, Lazar, Higgins, D., Saucier, Gerard and Knezevic, Goran. (2012). Contemporary militant extremism: A linguistic approach to scale development. In In G. J. Boyle, Donald H. Saklofske and G. Matthews (Ed.). Psychological Assessment pp. 41 - 67 SAGE Publications Inc..
Protecting children: Evolving systems
Higgins, Daryl. (2011). Protecting children: Evolving systems. Family Matters.
Social judgements are influenced by both facial expression and direction of eye gaze
Willis, Megan Louise, Palermo, Romina and Burke, Darren. (2011). Social judgements are influenced by both facial expression and direction of eye gaze. Social cognition. 29(4), pp. 415 - 429. https://doi.org/10.1521/soco.2011.29.4.415
Impaired holistic coding of facial expression and facial identity in congenital prosopagnosia
Palermo, Romina, Willis, Megan Louise, Rivolta, Davide, McKone, Elinor, Wilson, C Ellie and Calder, Andrew. (2011). Impaired holistic coding of facial expression and facial identity in congenital prosopagnosia. Neuropsychologia. 49(5), pp. 1226 - 1235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2011.02.021
Judging Approachability on the Face of It :The Influence of Face and Body Expressions on the Perception of Approachability
Willis, Megan Louise, Palermo, Romina and Burke, Darren. (2011). Judging Approachability on the Face of It :The Influence of Face and Body Expressions on the Perception of Approachability. Emotion. 11(3), pp. 514 - 523. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0022571
Unfit mothers... Unjust practices?: Key issues from Australian research on the impact of past adoption practices
Higgins, Daryl J.. (2011). Unfit mothers... Unjust practices?: Key issues from Australian research on the impact of past adoption practices. Family Matters. 87(1), pp. 56 - 67.
Switching associations between facial identity and emotional expression : A behavioural and ERP study
Willis, Megan Louise, Palermo, Romina, Burke, Darren, Atkinson, Carmen and McArthur, Genevieve. (2010). Switching associations between facial identity and emotional expression : A behavioural and ERP study. NeuroImage. 50(1), pp. 329 - 339. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.11.071
Contemporary militant extremism: A linguistic approach to scale development
Stankov, Lazar, Higgins, D., Saucier, G. and Kneszevic, G. (2010). Contemporary militant extremism: A linguistic approach to scale development. Psychological Assessment. 22(2), pp. 246 - 258. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0017372
Orbitofrontal cortex lesions result in abnormal social judgements to emotional faces
Willis, Megan Louise, Palermo, Romina, Burke, Darren, McGrillen, Ky and Miller, Laurie. (2010). Orbitofrontal cortex lesions result in abnormal social judgements to emotional faces. Neuropsychologia. 48(7), pp. 2182 - 2187. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2010.04.010