Sexually Abusive Behaviours Treatment Program

There is considerable evidence that intervening early with children and young people exhibiting sexually abusive behaviour can help to prevent ongoing and more serious sexual offences.

The Sexually Abusive Behaviours Treatment Service (SABTS) was established in October 2007 to provide a prevention and early intervention service for children and young people (aged 10 to under 15 years) who have engaged in sexually abusive behaviours, and their families. 

Secondary consultation is also offered to professionals supporting a child or young person who is exhibiting sexually abusive behaviours.

Barwon CASA commences our work with children and young people through a thorough assessment, from which an individually tailored treatment plan is developed. This approach respects each participant’s unique individual circumstances and provides a timely, fair, transparent, flexible and family focussed response. Our model accommodates the developmental needs of the child or young person, including those with learning and language difficulties, developmental delays and varying levels of intellectual ability.

Involvement of the family in treatment is essential in producing the best outcome for the child or young person.  To support a child or young person’s efforts to change their behaviours, the parents or carers need to understand the sexual abusive behaviour cycle, and the emotional states and circumstances that enable the behaviour to occur, including family dynamics that might trigger the cycle. Parents and carers need to be aware of and support the new positive coping strategies developed for the child or young person to interrupt the cycle, and they need to support the child or young person to maintain and implement those strategies.

In cases of sibling sexual abuse, involvement of the family in treatment is particularly important. Family work may involve the parent or carer, sibling(s) and members of the extended family.  Sessions focus on a range of treatment themes, and may involve the entire family.

Family work is particularly important when a child or young person is unable to remain in the family home due to the sexually abusive behaviours. Where this occurs, family reunification is a high-priority treatment goal.

When all the children involved are under 10, the behaviour is referred to as ‘sexualised behaviour’ or ‘problem sexual behaviours’ rather than ‘sexually abusive behaviour’. Children under 10 are deemed by Victorian law to be unable to consent to any form of sexual activity. In addition, children under 10 cannot be held criminally responsible for their behaviour.

It is important to understand that 93-95 percent of young people who attend treatment do not go on to engage in further sexually abusive behaviours, and that sexually abusive behaviours in a child or young person are not an indicator of paedophilia, and do not mean that the child or young person will go on to sexually offend as an adult.

We welcome referrals to the SABTS program from parents, families, caregivers, DHS or Police. Victoria Police may direct a child or young person to attend the program voluntarily by a Therapeutic Treatment Referral, or involuntarily by the Children’s Court via a Therapeutic Treatment Order (TTO).

These provisions do not replace the Police role in receiving reports and investigating and prosecuting crimes. Where a child aged 10 years and over has committed a sexual offence, it should be reported to Victoria Police. Any report made to Child Protection regarding a sexual offence will be reported to Police in cases where this has not already occurred.

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Our SABTS provides counselling and support for children and young people up to the age of 15 who display problem or sexually abusive behaviours.

The impact of sexually abusive behaviours on children, young people and the child or young person displaying the behaviours may be long term. The SABTS program significantly reduces the likelihood of the behaviours continuing.

To find out more about the SABTS program, you can download our brochure here, email your enquiry through here or call us on 5222 4318.