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Children pass through different stages of development as they grow and their awareness and curiosity about sexual matters change as they pass through infancy into childhood and on to adolescence.

Whilst each child is an individual and will develop in his or her own way, there is a range of acceptable behaviours linked to a child’s age and developmental stage. Sometimes these will involve some exploration with other children of a similar age.

At times it can be difficult for us to tell the difference between age appropriate sexual exploration and warning signs of harmful behaviour. If you have concerns, it is best to seek advice and to take appropriate action before a situation becomes more worrying.

Sexually harmful behaviour by children and young people ranges from experimentation that unintentionally goes too far, through to serious sexual assault.

Most children who sexually harm others are adolescents but even very young children may display sexually worrying behaviours. When this is the case it is important to find out what might be happening in the child’s life for him/her to behaving in this way.

Our Parents Protect website has more information about how to identity the warning signs of harmful sexual behaviour. This site also goes into detail about what is age-appropriate sexual behaviour.

Our confidential helpline’s experienced advisors can support you. If you’re not ready to speak to someone yet, you can send us a secure message

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