Dr Rebekah Chapman is Senior Researcher at Bravehearts. With a background in psychology, Rebekah has developed an expertise in youthfocused research. Prior to joining Bravehearts in 2015, Rebekah’s work focused primarily on adolescent health promotion and the development, implementation and evaluation of school-based health education programs. With a passion for child protection and positive youth development, Rebekah’s current research is focused on responding to, and preventing, the occurrence of child sexual abuse in the community.
Keeping children safe from harmful sexual behaviour: An examination of Bravehearts’ therapeutic approach (Oral Paper Presentation)
Sexual behaviour in a child may be considered problematic if it occurs beyond their developmental level, or if it causes emotional or physical distress to the child or to others. Early intervention is vital to ensure the safety of the child and others, as problematic sexual behaviours may lead to long-term patterns of behavioural or conduct problems into adolescence and adulthood. Research has also shown that children who are sexually harmed by those of a similar age experience significant ongoing impacts, comparable to those who are harmed by adults. Younger children with problematic sexual behaviours are distinct from adolescents and adults who are sexually abusive however, in that their behavioural motivations frequently differ. Early intervention with this group is generally considered to have high prospects of success in terms of a return to developmentally appropriate behaviour.
This presentation outlines Bravehearts’ therapeutic approach to addressing problematic sexual behaviour among children up to 12 years of age. An evaluation of the therapeutic service is currently being undertaken using a mixed-methods approach, involving examination of client intake data, outcome and assessment measures, and personal accounts of service experience and outcomes obtained through an in-depth client/parent survey. Preliminary data from this evaluation will be discussed, focusing on presenting issues, engagement, and outcomes for child clients presenting with problematic sexual behaviours. The presentation will also explore how the results of this evaluation will be used to ensure that Bravehearts’ practice is both evidence-based and providing the best outcomes for child clients and their families.