Male professional speak to a boy on a bench in a garden setting

Sibling sexual abuse and behaviour

Supporting professionals to improve their understanding of the nature and consequences of sibling sexual behaviour and abuse, and how to navigate key decisions to best support the whole family.

How can these resources help you?

Child sexual abuse takes many forms, but research suggests that a significant amount of sexual abuse is carried out by people known to the child, including by family members, uncles, fathers, mothers – and by brothers and sisters.

The latest Crime Survey in England and Wales found more than a quarter of children who are sexually abused are abused by a family member. This is supported by other research which suggests sexually abusive behaviour by siblings is a common form of intra-familial abuse.

Despite having the core skills to respond, many professionals report a lack of knowledge or experience to feel confident in doing so effectively.


Indeed, research suggests that sibling sexual behaviour can make professionals particularly uncomfortable, which may lead them to minimising the seriousness of behaviour or even catastrophising it further to access services.


Stuart Allardyce, Director at Lucy Faithfull Foundation with responsibilities for Stop it Now! and Dr Peter Yates, lecturer at Edinburgh University, were authors of both pieces of work, in collaboration with the CSA Centre.

Professional speaks to young woman at home

Sibling sexual behaviour

Whilst it may be uncomfortable to acknowledge, children display a range of common and healthy sexual behaviour at different stages of their development, and this may include with each other and between siblings. To help professionals negotiate the complexities raised by these sexual behaviours, we have create this new guide.

As outlined in the resource, the professional response is actually – in principle – the same as for any other concerns about children: to identify concerns, understand the nature of any harm, take steps to prevent any further harm and ultimately ensure the children and families are supported to understand and respond. Our free guide is split into two: Part A covers the identification and understanding of sibling sexual behaviour and Part B covers the professional response.

Male professional speaking to a child in a garden

Sibling sexual abuse

This knowledge and practice overview was created to give professionals a clear summary of the current research and practice knowledge, to understand the issues and challenges raised by sibling sexual abuse.

It is designed to give professionals confidence that, through the work they do, the therapeutic goal of families healing and moving forward is possible.

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