£445,000 funding to bring Oklahoma project to tackle children's sexual behaviour to Bristol
A programme developed in Oklahoma has been launched in Bristol to tackle harmful sexual behaviour in children.
The Be Safe Children’s Service run by North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) and Barnardo’s has received £444,500 from the Big Lottery’s Realising Ambition fund to set up the specialist treatment programme.
It will enable them to tackle what is referred to as problematic sexual behaviour in children in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
The service has already been working with teenagers for five years but the programme, developed in the United States by Oklahoma University Health Sciences Centre, will work with children aged eight to 12 who act in a sexually harmful way towards other youngsters, their parents or carers.
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It uses psychological treatment and cognitive behavioural therapy to eliminate or reduce problematic sexual behaviour in children.
Stephen Barry, NBT’s specialist clinician for the Be Safe Service, said: “We know that children who behave in a sexually harmful way towards other children are often victims of abuse themselves, and this could be sexual, physical, emotional abuse, exposure to domestic abuse and/or neglect. Although this is not always the case.
“It is important therefore that we work in partnership with other organisations to reach some of the most troubled young people in the community, identify harmful behaviour and provide the support and treatment needed to deal with it at an early stage.
“This is an innovative approach to meet a significant gap in service provision for this group of children, whilst ensuring that what is being offered actually makes a difference.”
Annie Hudson, Bristol City Council strategic director for children and young people, said: “Be Safe is a tried and trusted service for professionals who work with children to make referrals when young people show worrying sexual behaviour.
“By extending the service to younger children we now have greater opportunities to tackle the issue early in life to help prevent problems later on.”