Assessment of sexually harmful behaviour in children

Assessment of sexually harmful behaviour in children from Kites Children's services in EssexKites Children’s Services provide comprehensive assessment of sexually harmful behaviour in children – it is at the heart of all that we do at Kites.

It has long been recognised that accurate and detailed assessment is essential to recognising and responding to children and young people who display harmful sexual behaviour.

All the young people placed with Kites are assessed within the first 3 months of their placement. Assessment models differ in their methodology.

Professional judgement based on research has a place, whilst actuarial and psychometric assessment, whilst perhaps more scientific, cannot possibly include all the variables encompassed within human behaviour.

Our approach to assessment of sexually harmful behaviour in children

The approach we have adopted, structured clinical judgement, in our view utilises the best features of both aforementioned assessment tools.

Our risk and needs assessments make recommendations as to the level of risk of re-offence, where risk is at it’s greatest and how any identified risk should be managed, alongside any therapeutic intervention and placement requirements.

All assessments include between 6 – 8 individual sessions with the young person.

Assessment sessions include exploration of the young person’s family background, life story, sexual development and interests, and an initial account of their harmful sexual behaviour.

The Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offence Recidivism

Providing local authorities with assessment of sexually harmful behaviour in childrenOur assessments of risk of future sexual harm are structured via the Estimate of Risk of Adolescent Sexual Offence Recidivism (ERASOR, Worling & Curwen, 2001).

This is an empirically based clinical judgment assessment tool designed to predict adolescent sexual offence recidivism.

It is specifically designed to assist evaluators to estimate the risk of sexual re-offence for individuals aged twelve to eighteen who have previously exhibited harmful sexual behaviour.

The ERASOR assists evaluators to conduct comprehensive assessment of sexually harmful behaviour in children and of the risk of sexual recidivism in clinical and forensic settings.

At the core of its structure is a set of 25 risk indicators broadly grouped within the following five domains:

  1. Sexual interest, attitudes and behaviour;
  2. Historical sexual assaults;
  3. Psychosocial functioning;
  4. Family – environmental functioning;
  5. Treatment.

In addition to the self-report methods already described we use the following standard tests/scales to augment clinical impression:

  • The Adolescent Sexual Information Scale
  • Carich-Adkerson Victim Empathy and Remorse Scale
  • The Bumby Cognitive Distortion Scale
  • Affinity 2.1
  • Sexual Adjustment Inventory – Juvenile (SAI – Juvenile)
  • Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ)