Parents/carers concerned about a child or young person with worrying sexual behaviour

Stop It Now! helpline call example: Julia

Julia contacted the helpline because her 15-year-old son, Jonathan, had been accused of inappropriately touching his ten-year-old female cousin. This was said to have happened three different times when Julia and Jonathan were staying at his cousin’s house.

Jonathan’s cousin told her mother, Julia’s sister, who did not want to involve the police as she was concerned about the consequences for Jonathan. However, she was keen that Julia took immediate action to ensure that nothing like this happened again. Julia was keen to address the situation and so she called the helpline.

Jonathan admitted what had happened and was sorry and upset. He said he didn’t know why he had acted in this way. Julia tried to explain why his behaviour was unacceptable and how it might affect both his cousin and himself. She described her shock at what Jonathan had done; as she thought he was well-adjusted, with close friends his own age. Julia was unsure how best to proceed.

During her call with the helpline, Julia was advised:

  • That the helpline offers support, advice, and information in situations such as hers
  • Jonathan’s father leaving when he was ten could have had a potential impact on him
  • To open up good lines of communication with Jonathan, especially around how to behave responsibly on the internet. Julia said she had recently found pornography on his computer but felt unable to discuss this with him
  • It was important that Jonathan should be supervised when with other children so that he was not vulnerable to repeating his inappropriate behaviour
  • There were several places she could go for further information on her situation
  • Jonathan and his cousin might want to receive appropriate help and that Children’s Services did not need to be involved. We discussed the process of doing this and the kinds of services available
  • To share the helpline number with her sister.

Actions agreed with Julia:

  • Supervise Jonathan’s contact with other children and check his internet usage
  • Continue to talk with Jonathan about the reasons for his actions and about inappropriate behaviour. Spend time together so that he feels comfortable and supported in talking with Julia.
  • Consider reporting to Children’s Services and the potential outcomes for both children in doing this.
  • Get a copy of ‘Facing the Future’ by Simon Hackett.
  • Phone the helpline at any time and suggest to her sister to call.


Julia called the helpline several times, as she decided what to do next. She and her sister decided to tell Children’s Services about what had happened.

In view of the circumstances, including the family’s wishes, the police decided not to pursue a criminal investigation. Jonathan was assigned a social worker and joined a programme for young people who have behaved in sexually inappropriate ways. His cousin was offered counselling through her school. Julia told us:

“Having spoken to you, today is the first time I feel like a whole person again.”


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