New tool for addressing harmful sexual behaviour

Children and young people need to be seen as children first rather than as perpetrators. That’s our message  as we launch a new tool to help colleagues across government identify and appropriately deal with signs of harmful sexual behaviour by children and young people.

We hope the use of the internationally recognised ‘Brook Traffic Light’ tool will stop inappropriate referrals to the Children and Families Hub and the stigmatisation and criminalisation of children and young people.

It will increase the competence and confidence in practitioners to spot the signs and intervene early to prevent behaviours from escalating and meet the needs of children and young people.

The tool, which is available to all government employees, will help practitioners to make consistent and informed decisions using a common language. To use the free tool, colleagues must first complete the training on Connect People.

Virtual College can be used by those external to Government of Jersey. An account will need to be created for users who don’t currently have access. ‘Create an account’ can be found at the bottom of the login screen. Once users have access, click on ‘available learning’ and search ‘Brook’ for the training to appear.

Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) is defined as sexual behaviour by under 18s that is “developmentally inappropriate, may be harmful towards self or others and/or be abusive towards another child, young person or adult.”

Colleagues working in schools and nurseries are faced with many different scenarios that can include sexual behaviour. We want to ensure that practitioners are supported and equipped with the tools to spot signs and respond appropriately to children and young people’s needs, rather than just solely focusing on risks.

The Brook Traffic Light tool offers guidance for age-appropriate behaviour and defines behaviours within green, amber and red categories. All green, amber and red behaviours require some form of attention and response. It is the level of intervention that will vary.

The introduction of the Brook Traffic Light tool is part of the ‘prevention and identification’ work under the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Strategy 2022-2024. The vision for the strategy is for children and young people in Jersey to live free from sexual abuse and exploitation.

Jane Lancaster Adlam, Chair for the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Subgroup (and Associate Director for Education), said; “It’s vitally important that we have the Brook Traffic Light Tool in place to provide a unified approach in supporting all practitioners working with children and young people in their understanding of harmful sexual behaviour. This will assist with early identification and ensuring relevant support is in place as soon as possible to both protect and safeguard all our young people.”

Sarah Elliott, Former Independent Chair Safeguarding Partnership Board, said; “Taking a timely and proportionate approach to addressing harmful sexual behaviours is important to enable children to grow up safely and thrive into their teenage years and adulthood.

“The Brook Traffic Light Tool supports practice in this sensitive area of safeguarding and should make a real difference to the work of teachers, social workers, health staff, police officers and many other front-line staff including those in the third sector who work with children who may be displaying harmful sexual behaviours and need support to address this”.