The following sexual behaviours by a child should be cause for concern:

  • Displaying sexual knowledge and behaviour that is beyond his/her normal developmental stage
  • Talking about sexual acts that s/he should have no knowledge or experience of
  • Verbalizing what sexual contact looks like, sounds like, or feels like
  • Repeatedly acting out sexually and not responding to limits placed on his/her behaviour (e.g. continues to fondle other children or adults after boundaries have been explained) [Gil, 2006]
  • Sexual behaviour resulting in complaints from other children
  • Over the age of four, not having a good grasp of boundaries (e.g. tries to French kiss adults) [Cavanaugh-Johnson, 2003]

If any of these behaviours are observed, they require action to determine the source and scope of the problem.

It is important to ask yourself the following questions when you observe concerning behaviour in a child:

“How old is the child? Is the behaviour age-appropriate?”

“How severe is the behaviour?”

“How often does the behaviour occur?”

“How is it affecting the child?”

“How is it affecting other children?”

“ Need for concern” signs might be the result of inappropriate parenting that does not necessarily rise to the level of sexual abuse.

[Kenneth Lanning, 2009]