Problematic Sexual Behaviors in Children


“Oh No! My kids are doing sexual things! Is that normal?” Most parents have concerns about their child doing some sexual behaviors, and are unclear as to what is considered normal, age-appropriate, and developmentally appropriate.

I went to a seminar yesterday about this topic, and learned about normal sexual behaviors and problematic sexual behaviors in children. Sexual development can be best viewed with other normal development in children, such as social, emotional, psychological, language, motor skills and physical growth. Certain behaviors are appropriate at one age, but not another.

*Some common misconceptions about sexual behaviors in children are below:

1. All sexual behavior between children is normal, acceptable play.
FACT: Some sexual behaviors between children is not appropriate.

2. Sexual acts between children are not harmful.
FACT: Sexual acts between children can be significantly harmful.

3. Children with SBPs (Sexual behavior problems) have been sexually abused.
FACT: Many children with SBPs have not been sexually abused.

4. Children who have been sexually abused later act out sexually with other children.
FACT: Most children who have been sexually abused do not have SBPs.

5. Girls rarely have sexual behavior problems.
FACT: Many children with SBPs are female.

6. Children with SBPs should not live in a home with other children.
FACT: With appropriate treatment, and careful adult supervision, most children with SBPs can live safely with other children.

7. Children with SBPs should be placed in specialized inpatient or residential treatment facilities.
FACT: Outpatient treatment can be successful for most children with SBPs.

8. Children with SBPs should not attend public schools.
FACT: Most children with SBPs can safely attend public schools.

9. Without long-term intensive therapy, children with SBPs will continue to have sexual behavior problems.
FACT: Most children do not continue to have SBPs.

10. Children with SBPs grow up to be adult sexual offenders.
FACT: Most children with SBPs do not demonstrate continued SBPs into adolescence and adulthood.

If you have concerns about your children, and their sexual play or sexual behaviors, I can help you and your family. I learned many ways to address the behaviors and would love to be of service to you and your children, including teaching parents and children appropriate behaviors, relaxation skills, emotional coping skills and impulsive control.

Please call me to set up an appointment. I look forward to serving you.


J. Faith Gallup, LCSW