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most children engage in and display a range of sexualised behaviour that is healthy and normal for their age

Safe Network offers a specialised clinical assessment and intervention service for children aged 5-12 years

But sometimes children engage in or display sexualised behaviour that causes others to be concerned because it is unusual for their age or it makes others feel uncomfortable, confused or hurt.

Most children engage in and display a range of sexualised behaviour that is healthy and normal for their age.

With children aged 5-12, behaviour is harmful or concerning when...

  • it is different from that of other children of the same age
  • the sexual behaviour continues despite repeated requests to stop
  • the child appears driven to engage in sexual behaviour regardless of whether or not they will be punished or reprimanded
  • other children complain about the child’s sexual behaviour or are adversely affected
  • the child uses sexual behaviour to hurt, frighten or upset other children
  • the sexual behaviour is engaged in by children of different ages or developmental levels
  • one child uses force, threats, bribery or coercion to get the other child to participate in sexual behaviour
  • one child forces another child to keep the sexual behaviour a secret
  • the sexual behaviour progresses in frequency, intensity or intrusiveness over time
  • the child’s sexual behaviour is directed at adults who feel uncomfortable about it
  • the child manually stimulates or has oral or genital contact with animal/s
  • verbal and/or physical expressions of anger precede, follow or accompany the sexual behaviour.

Information sourced from Understanding Children’s Sexual Behaviours by Toni Cavanagh Johnson, PhD, and Ending Offending Together by Caroline Witten-Hannah, Frances Miller, John McCarthy.

tautoko i nga hapori pai ake

supporting strong and safe communities

Safe Network's services

Safe Network offers a specialised clinical assessment and intervention service for children aged 5-12 years who display problematic or concerning sexual behaviour.

In addition to individual services for children, Safe Network provides the following further specialist services:

Tikanga informed services for Maori

Safe Network offers our services for Māori and others through kaupapa Māori informed therapeutic models of practice.

Approximately 35% of Safe Network's clients are Māori. Our services for Maori have been developed by Maori practitioners for Maori clients. Safe Network also has the external guidance, oversight and governance of Māori practitioners, and relationships with various Iwi.

Amanaki Pasifika

Safe Network offers our services for clients from Pasifika nations utilising clinical models embedded within various Pasifika cultural frameworks. Our Amanaki Pasifika service has been developed and is led by Pasifika clinicians who are able to meet the clinical and cultural needs of this client group.

Women and girls

Safe Network offers a specialised clinical assessment and intervention service for women and girls who present with concerning and harmful sexual behaviour, and for their families.

This service pathway spans the range of Safe Network's service areas and was designed to understand and accommodate the specific needs of female clients by providing a gender-responsive and collaborative service that acknowledges the social and cultural realities of women and girls.


Safe Network offers services for children whose problematic sexual behaviour involves accessing pornographic material and using internet-based platforms to engage in concerning sexual behaviour. These children may also be involved in problematic sexual touching and other contact sexual behaviour.

helping children to be strong and safe in their life, their whanau and their community

What is the process

At Safe Network we want to make sure you get the help you need. It is important to assess whether Safe Network is the right place to provide that help. We conduct an assessment to find out about the individual, their history and the sexual behaviour that has brought them to Safe. Their strengths and resources will be assessed, as well as their problems.

Family members and partners are part of the assessment process. The effects of the concerning or harmful sexual behaviour, the safety of others and the needs of the family are all important factors for consideration.

Although assessment processes across the service areas may have aspects unique to the focus of that client group, all assessments are likely to involve the following:

  • two or three interviews with the individual and their significant family members or support person(s)
  • collection of information and reports from other agencies or professionals who are involved e.g. OT, Police, counsellors
  • completion of written questionnaires and psychological tests by the client and their adult family member or other support person(s).

Once the interviews and tests are completed, a detailed report is prepared. This will make recommendations about the person’s suitability for acceptance into one of Safe Network's services. A copy of this report, including recommendations about the next steps, will be sent to the referring agency or person if appropriate.

getting support -
anyone can make a referral

If an individual is accepted into one of Safe Network's services, they will be allocated to a suitable clinician to undertake the intervention. Individuals are offered a tailored pathway within a suitable service that could range from 6-18 months’ duration. Each service includes all or some of the following:

  • weekly one-to-one appointments
  • regular family sessions
  • regular review sessions with support system.

Expected outcomes

Our goal is to work with our clients to ensure they are able to lead safe, balanced, and healthy lives with positive connections to family/whanau and the community.

This means that when they have completed their therapy at Safe Network, we expect that they:

  • are able to have healthy and safe relationships with others
  • have a reduction in incidences of sexual behaviour that is concerning or problematic
  • have learned new and healthy ways to manage difficulties
  • have a greater level of wellbeing and resilience.

Safe Network fact sheets


safer lives with safe communities

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