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Assessing Adolescents who display Harmful Sexual Behaviours:
The Challenge of the Developmental Transition

PITCHER, KAREN,DIANNA (2020) Assessing Adolescents who display Harmful Sexual Behaviours:
The Challenge of the Developmental Transition.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



In the 1980’s research began to highlight how adolescents who display harmful sexual behaviour and adult sexual offenders were two distinct groups with distinct characteristics. This distinction led to the development of a range of assessment tools and interventions that are tailored to the specific group’s risks and needs. The process of assessment and risk management of harmful sexual behaviour is undertaken by a variety of statutory and non-statutory services, these services have different assessment focuses creating assessments that differ in structure and content.
This thesis uses a mixed methods approach to explore the assessment of adolescents who display harmful sexual behaviour as they transition to adulthood. It explores the developmental transition, risk assessment tools, the link between risk assessment and risk management and the experience of the assessment process. The qualitative research focuses on interviews with young people who have displayed harmful sexual behaviour and professionals that work with them (Police, Probation, Youth Offending Service, Social Work and Clinical). The quantitative research focuses on case file information exploring how risk assessment tools analyse risk and how the assessment tools relate to each other.
This research highlights how there are challenges to assessing adolescents who display harmful sexual behaviour as they transition to adult services. There are issues in relation to strategic alignment, organisational alignment, and role and goal alignment within the assessment process. There are difficulties establishing the context for risk assessment and identifying risks associated with harmful sexual behaviour, issues with assessing and evaluating sexual risk and how risk is managed, monitored and reviewed. There are also concerns in relation to consultation, communication and intervention. These issues not only have an impact of the effectiveness of the assessment process but also have an impact on the experiences of those involved within the process.
The research findings highlight key factors that could improve the effectiveness of the risk assessment and risk management processes including greater clarity about professionals’ roles and responsibilities and how create an overarching multi-agency framework. It highlights the need for a more standardised approach to assessment and risk management, with increased training for professionals and access to resources, improved monitoring and reviewing processes, and more effective communication between professionals and between the professional and the young person.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Harmful Sexual Behaviour Developmental Transition
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Applied Social Sciences, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:28 Sep 2020 15:32

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