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More than any other challenging behaviour, the sexual abuse of one child by another generates anxiety, puzzlement and confusion.

Adults confident in dealing with a defiant or delinquent child find their confidence leaves them when confronted with sexual misbehaviour in a child who they expect to be asexual. In this book, Jackie Bateman and Judith Milner provide an accessible overview of the evidence relating to such problem behaviours, from inappropriate behaviour to sexual abuse. They go on to propose research-based effective and creative methods that professionals can use to develop responsibility-taking and safety in the child, and outline a strengths-based model for practice. Using the model, the authors show how behaviour can be managed through the development of safe care plans for the home and/or school – addressing communication, supervision, and supportive networks. They also provide guidance for working across a range of settings – whether directly with families, in schools or with children with learning difficulties.

This practical guide will be an essential tool for social workers, counsellors, teachers, nurses and any professional with responsibility for child protection.


In a field often dominated by moral imperatives and judgements of risk and deficit, this book offers uncommon sense by shining an ethical light on young people's problem sexual behaviour. Bateman and Milner bring together contemporary theory and research into sound practice to demonstrate just what an ethical or strengths-based focus can bring for safety, affect regulation and connection in relationships. Their clear descriptions, practice examples and exercises for reflection provide an excellent resource for practitioners seeking a developmental approach that is firmly located in a systemic context of family, school and community.
Alan Jenkins, Director, Mary St. Program, Adelaide, South Australia.
This book is a welcome and essential overview of attitudes to and understanding of child sexual behaviours, with a clearly laid out explanation of strength based approaches and how these strengths are used to promote and effect change. This book shows how, despite several attempts at reform, professionals have often found themselves isolated and struggling to handle these cases. Here is a much needed vital handbook that provides clear pathways through these complex behaviours. I strongly commend this sensitive thoughtful book and recommend it as essential reading for anyone working with children or young people in this difficult situation.
Adrienne Katz, author of Cyberbullying and e-safety: What educators and other professionals need to know
In writing this book both authors have been able to draw on much relevant professional expertise... Each chapter follows a format which makes the book's contents very accessible, especially to newer practitioners or more experienced practitioners who are unfamiliar with the models and approach the authors present. Relevant theory and techniques associated with solution- focused and narrative approaches are described and illustrated with both shorter and longer practice examples drawn from the authors' own experience of child protection work with children and young people whose behaviour is sexually concerning or harmful, and sources of additional reading are regularly signposted... very well written.
Helen Masson, Editor, Nota News
This book is written by two experienced practitioners (...) it is relentlessly practical and provides great material for a reader who is looking for fresh practice ideas. The authors' clear strengths-based values and approach are open and transparent, allowing the reader to engage with and understand the practices that are described. Those who are new to strengths-based approaches will find this a useful introduction to their application in this field, and those who are more familiar with them will find stimulating new ideas located in this practice context... The book contains illustrated examples of plans and actual work that has been done with children, which enable the reader to see the ideas in the text in action... The book will be a key resource for anyone who wants to work in creative and empowering ways with children who display sexually concerning or harmful behaviour.
Steve Myers, University of Salford, Journal of Sexual Aggression
A very interesting read... It can provide some good ideas to help move families forward in dealing with these issues.
Play for Life