Real World Examples

When a parent has a child who demonstrates problematic sexual behavior, many questions arise such as ones noted in these case examples. The four examples are fictional and are not intended to represent a specific people. Rather these examples illustrate the range of families impacted by problematic sexual behavior of youth. In the following webpages, these families’ questions are addressed as well as other questions parents and caregivers may have.


Typical Vs. Non-Typical Behavior

Mr. and Mrs. Cornelison’s four sons ranged in age from 5 to 10 years old. All the boys loved sports. Evenings and weekends were filled with practices, games, and other activities.

One Saturday morning, Mrs. Cornelison told her sons to get in their uniforms for their games. Then she noticed the bedroom was quiet. She checked to see what was going on.

She found two of her sons, ages 7 and 9, undressed and touching each other’s private parts. She was shocked and told her husband what she saw. Mr. Cornelison told the boys to get dressed. He talked to them separately.

The boys seemed embarrassed. They said they were just getting dressed and were wondering what it would be like to touch each other.

The Cornelisons wondered if the behavior was normal or something of concern. Should they just ignore it? What did it mean about their boys and their parenting? How did it affect them as they developed? Did this mean that their sons were gay?

Relevant Questions

father and son playing basketball

When To Seek Treatment

Mr. McFarland will never forget the night his neighbor called about his 10-year-old son, Ryan. Ryan had been playing with his friends, ages 9 and 6, at the neighbor’s house. The boys all got along well and played together often.

When the neighbor called, she sounded panicked. She said she had walked into the boys’ bedroom and found them half-naked, with Ryan humping her 6-year-old son, Benjamin.

Over the next few months, police investigated. Child protective services were involved. Authorities recommended a variety of approaches and services.

At first, Mr. McFarland couldn’t believe it had happened. He thought the neighbor had misinterpreted how the boys were playing. Then, over time, he accepted it.

Where had Ryan learned this behavior? Had Ryan himself been sexually abused?

Relevant Questions

four kids playing tug of war

When To Find Help.

Ms. Blackwood is worried about her grandchildren. Cindy is 7. Darren is 5.

Their father sexually abused them a year ago. Cindy and Darren went to live with Ms. Blackwood after her daughter – the children’s mother – left to be with her husband.

Since being in her home, her grandchildren seem to have no boundaries. No one is a stranger to them. They try to hug or kiss everyone. Cindy especially likes to talk with men, even at the grocery store. Recently, Ms. Blackwood found Cindy with her mouth on Darren’s privates while they bathed together.

Ms. Blackwood didn’t know what to do. She just froze, watching them. After the initial shock, she told the children to stop. Cindy wasn’t upset about the behavior or how it might impact Darren. Ms. Blackwood is afraid Cindy is becoming a “psychopath” and has no concern for others. At the same time, Ms. Blackwood doesn’t want to punish Cindy too harshly because of the past sexual abuse and loss of their mother. Ms. Blackwood worries Cindy will get upset if she is punished.

Relevant Questions

Ms. Blackwood is unsure what to do. What should she do about the bathroom incident?

This situation is terribly stressful for Ms. Blackwood, but she doesn’t think she can talk with anyone about what has happened.

school teacher helping kids at computer

What Treatment Is the Correct One?

Mr. and Mrs. Kastner adopted Jerry, age 10, and Destiny, age 5, two years ago.

Due to neglect and physical abuse, Jerry and Destiny had been removed from their biological parents’ home. Past experiences had damaged Jerry more than his younger sister. He has revealed that his biological parents and other adults often had fistfights and even sometimes hit Jerry.

The parents also frequently got drunk or used drugs, leaving Jerry and Destiny to fend for themselves.

While Destiny has adjusted well to the Kastner home, Jerry has difficulty following rules. He tends to be angry at home and school. He struggles with his schoolwork and is now close to failing. Recently, a school administrator called and reported that Jerry and two other boys had held down a younger female student. When a teacher found the students, Jerry had his pants down and was lying on top of the girl. Jerry was suspended from school, and now the police are involved. The psychologist who evaluated Jerry diagnosed him with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. Jerry has reading and math learning disabilities.

The psychologist has recommended therapy and placing Jerry on a special education plan designed to address learning and behavior problems.

Relevant Questions

The Kastners are unsure what they can expect from therapy. They wonder if therapy can actually help Jerry.

father and son doing arts and craft
Case #1

Do Impacted Children Require PSB Treatment?

Mary is a single mother of three children: Hunter (age 16), Ava (age 7), and Brody (age 4). Mary sought support from her local Child Advocacy Center after her 7-year-old daughter, Ava disclosed to her that Hunter had been touching her private parts. Ava told Mary that Hunter told her not to tell and offered her to play video games with him if she went along with the touching. Mary expressed anger at both her children. She wondered why Hunter would engage Ava in this behavior and wondered why Ava didn't come to her right away or say no to Hunter. Mary wondered if both children should be responsible. Mary reported that she is unsure how to help both her children, worries about her other younger child in the home and feels like a bad parent. Mary reported that she would like Ava to be assessed for PSB services, as she wonders if Ava will seek out more sexual behaviors from Hunter or engage her younger child in PSB.

Relevant Questions

Case #2

What Factors Influence the Impact of PSB on Impacted Children?

David and Sarah are parents to 4-year-old Jenna. During a family holiday party, Jenna and an older cousin, 8-year-old Samantha were playing alone in a bedroom. David went to check on the children and discovered them in the bedroom without their clothing on and touching one another's private areas. David became very upset and separated the children. He shared with Samantha's parents what had occurred, and they each agreed to speak with their children separately. While talking to Jenna, she reported that Samantha had asked her to play the touching game and so Jenna said yes. David and Sarah expressed a lot of anger toward Samantha and are no longer allowing contact between the children. Jenna was very upset as Samantha is someone she frequently sees and plays with. The families have stopped associating with one another completely and are blaming one another. David and Sarah worry that if Jenna doesn't get help, she will sexually act on other children. They are worried what this means for her future as they have heard that this behavior never stops. They are worried about the impact of this issue on Jenna. David and Sarah have reached out to their pediatrician for information on how to obtain services and support around this issue.

Relevant Questions
three kids running down a hallway