Professionals

Better Lives through Better Choices

When Sexual Behaviors in Youth are Problematic or Illegal:
A Web-Based Resource for Evidence-based Decision-Making

Youth with problematic sexual behavior (PSB) can successfully respond to interventions that address the behavior problem and promote healthy development. Recidivism rates show that with appropriate and effective interventions, most youth can learn to make better choices and be contributing members of society.

Youth who engage in problematic sexual behaviors are a diverse group. Thus, no singular approach is likely to be successful in all cases. Effective methods to promote safety are those that employ case by case, decision-making strategies that tailor interventions to the youth, family, and circumstances. Many youth cam be treated effectively in outpatient, community-based programs while a smaller group will need a more structured, secure setting during treatment.

Decisions to promote safety and facilitate positive outcomes for youth are made daily by social service workers, school personnel, law enforcement and probation officers, judges, health care professionals and clinicians, public policy makers and, importantly, parents and extended family members and friends. Questions that arise when determining the best choices to make include: 1) Is the sexual behavior a problem requiring intervention? 2) What are the characteristics of effective interventions and safety plans for the youth? 3) Is a more restrictive environment needed to ensure safety and meet the intervention needs of the youth? 4) What public policies promote the safety of our communities? Easily accessible, evidence-based information is needed to guide decision-making and facilitate positive outcomes.

This web site presents an overview of the latest research findings and best practices for professionals working with youth with PSB. More specifically, it describes the heterogeneity of these children and adolescents, appropriate assessment strategies, evidence based interventions, practitioner qualifications, and public policy considerations. Links, references, and resources that offer more in-depth and targeted information are provided. The overarching goal of this resource is to provide recommended, evidence based practices that, if adopted, may enhance effective intervention and positive outcomes for children and adolescents with PISB and their families, while creating safer societies.