Up to one-third of sexual abuse referred to statutory agencies is carried out by children and young people. Children who display harmful sexual behaviours and/or abuse other children are likely to be perceived as criminals on the one hand, and also as victims. Research suggests that this group of children needs effective, targeted support and/or treatment and many of them have been victims of some form of abuse themselves (Lovell, 2002) with females more likely to have been sexually abused than males (Hickey et al., 2008). Definitions of what is considered abusive are complex (Masson and Erooga, 2006) and the discussion in this chapter examines the legal perspectives relating to children and young people as laid out in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the support mechanisms which are contained within child care legislation and practice guidance.
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