Early identification of children and youth who engage in problematic sexual behavior is important for all parties involved, such as children who exhibit and are impacted by the behavior. There are several reliable and valid identification tools that can be used to recognize problematic sexual behavior in children and youth (PSB-CY) in clinical practice; however, professionals who work with children in non-clinical settings (i.e., child development centers, youth programs, and schools) often have limited resources and tools when they encounter PSB-CY. This paper describes the development, content, and user feedback of a referral tool (RT) that was designed to help identify incidents of PSB-CY for use with military agencies and schools. Specifically, the RT was designed to help professionals, who may have observed or who may have been made aware of sexual behaviors in children and youth, organize their observations of the behavior in alignment with evidence-based information about PSB-CY and consistently document these occurrences. The RT guides users in determining if the observed behavior is normative, cautionary, or problematic and promotes informed decisions about whether the behavior needs to be referred to those who have experience using clinical tools for further review and the identification of next steps for supporting the children and families involved. Early adopters provided feedback on the use of the RT. The feedback suggested that the tool was user-friendly, understandable, and helpful as they made objective decisions about how to identify and handle referrals of PSB-CY.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1016-1035
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Child Sexual Abuse
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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