Today I was speaking with a group of people from within the education and human services sector about working with young people who exhibit sexually abusive behaviours. What we mean here is young people aged over 10 and under 16 who sexually abuse others. When having this discussion it became apparent that there were two different opinions in the room. The Education view was to intervene early and deal decisively with the behaviours at the earliest point possible. The human services view was to deal with the behaviours only when they became problematic.
One view was early intervention and preventative. The other was critical intervention. As someone who has worked in the human services I struggled with the heavy handed approach of the education sector. One case they spoke of had a child suspended after rubbing himself against a fellow classmate. The human services also struggled with this. They commented that this would not even be an issue that they would look at.
After listening to this discussion I started to think that perhaps we are allowing young people to exhibit sexual behaviours to early. When children under 10 are regularly having sex and children even younger are experimenting with their bodies and each other have we as a society already lost the battle? Young people by nature will experiment with their sexuality, but are we as youth workers to soft on them when they exhibit inappropriate behaviours?