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Barnardo’s Harmful Sexual Behaviour Services, Training and Consultancy

Amanda Naylor explains how Barnardo's work to identify and deliver early intervention work for children who demonstrate problematic sexual behaviours

Barnardo’s is committed to making measurable progress in the eradication of child sexual abuse in all of its forms and ensuring that all children at risk of or impacted by child sexual abuse receive the highest quality integrated support to be effectively safeguarded and supported to thrive.

Our experience demonstrates that children with concerning and harmful sexual behaviours have often experienced abuse and trauma themselves and Barnardo’s services focus on supporting them to:

  • understand and recover from their own experiences;
  • access specialist help to address the cause and impact of problematic sexual behaviours;
  • grow protective networks and support systems;
  • develop safe and healthy lives enabling them to thrive into adulthood.

Barnardo’s trains all staff across around 100 of its child sexual abuse services across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, to identify and deliver early intervention work for children who demonstrate problematic sexual behaviours.

In addition to this Barnardo’s have a growing number of harmful sexual behaviour specialist services, currently operating in six areas of the UK, delivering assessment and intervention programmes, training and consultancy.

Service Offer

Although each of Barnardo’s services has slightly different commissioning structures – common elements of services include:


  • Assessment and support for children and young people aged 5 – 21 years
  • Parental/ carer capacity assessments, on carers’ ability to protect their children, manage safety plans, and meet the needs of their children – whilst considering the wider demands on the family.
  • Adult sexual offending assessments – where there is potential impact on a child in the family.

The most appropriate assessment and psychometric tool is used in line with child’s age, development and situation. (eg AIM2, MEGA, ARMADILLO, Briere, ERASER, TPISA, TSCC, A-DES, CRIES, Beck’s Youth Inventories).  All assessments consider family, sibling, extended family and friendships and community and environmental factors.

From these assessments high quality court/ multiagency reports are available to support wider decision making and support planning.

Support and intervention

Staff teams are typically multi-disciplinary made up of a combination of psychologists, social workers, youth workers, youth justice professionals and a wide range of therapists, who receive ongoing reflective and clinical supervision to ensure safe and informed practice.

We offer a continuum of support and intervention responses in recognition of young people’s diverse and complex needs, informed by evidence-based practice.  All interventions are underpinned by child centred, trauma informed, resilience building, strengths-based and systemic practice – working to the unique needs of each child and family offering individual, sibling, group and family therapeutic and key worker support to achieve:

  • Reduction in level of risk/harm to the referred child and other associated children
  • Improved carer capacity to prevent abusive/harmful behaviours
  • Increased understanding and management of the child’s own behaviour
  • Improved positive family relationships and wider networks of support

Training and Consultancy

Building capacity across organisations is a key aim of all of our specialist services.  We offer a range of training and consultancy/ support offers for organisations, foster carers and parents to improve their understanding and ability to support more effectively children who have problematic or harmful sexual behaviours.


About the author

Amanda NaylorAmanda Naylor is Barnardos: Assistant Director of Impact – UK lead on child sexual abuse. She has extensive experience within the third sector, international development and social care sector supporting child victims, disabled children, looked after children, young people subject to safeguarding and youth justice systems. Amanda leads Barnardo’s 10 year strategy on child sexual abuse, incorporating child sexual exploitation, trafficking and harmful sexual behaviours, designing and implementing innovative and responsive services across the UK.



Back to: SPECIAL FEATURE: StopSo tackling sexual abuse in the 21st century

This article is part of a special feature section produced with the organisation StopSo, looking at the issues raised by working with both sex offenders and survivors. Views expressed are those of the author not UKCP.