Promoting Safe Behaviors

Hearing that your child/teen has engaged in Problematic Sexual
Behavior can be extremely stressful for everyone involved.
But there is help, and there is hope.


What is Problematic Sexual Behavior?

Problematic Sexual Behavior is more than kids playing doctor or showing curiosity about private parts. Problematic Sexual Behavior includes sexual behaviors that are beyond typical sexual development. The term is also used when youth display sexual behaviors that do not respond to parental intervention, or are frequent, intrusive or occur among youth of disparate ages or abilities. Problematic Sexual Behavior could also be behaviors that are aggressive, intrusive or coercive, and/or cause harm to the youth and others.

The mission of the Promoting Safe Behaviors (PSB) Program is to strengthen families and prevent future harm by holistically addressing the needs of children and youth with problematic sexual behaviors through evidence-based treatment and diversionary services.


Our program is designed to help youth and caregivers alike.


Youth ages 3-14 displaying patterns of problematic sexual behavior at home, school and/or community settings

Impacted Youth

Kids of any age.


Caregiver(s) of youth with problematic sexual behavior


A weekly, group-based approach.

Group-model-based program made up of two groups: youth with problematic sexual behavior, and caregiver(s) of youth with problematic sexual behavior.

  • Groups will meet separately, on a weekly basis for 60-75 minutes
  • Depending on age of child and progress in treatment, program will last between 18-22 weeks
  • Impacted youth will receive individual trauma therapy or abuse prevention sessions

Youth Groups will learn:

Caregiver Groups will learn:

Understanding the Issue

There isn't one type of youth who develops problematic sexual behavior.

Problematic Sexual Behavior usually occurs when youth are feeling curious, anxious, angry, reacting to trauma, trying to imitate others, or calm themselves down. Youth who exhibit problematic sexual behavior often exhibit a lack of impulse control or challenges with social skills and decision-making abilities.

Research suggests that many factors can contribute to developing problematic sexual behavior, including:

  • Youth vulnerabilities
  • Exposure to sexual materials
  • Exposure to violence
  • Factors that hinder caregiver guidance and supervision

Why “Person-First” Language is Important

When talking to a child or family about their youth’s problematic sexual behavior, it’s important to use person-first language. Person-first language puts a person before a behavior, describing what behavior a person “has” rather than asserting what a person “is”. Simply put, it sends a strong message to the child:

You are not defined by your mistake, and doing a bad thing doesn’t make you a bad person.

Here are a few examples of person-first language that you can use when talking to a child or family:

  • Youth with sexual behavior problems
  • Youth who sexually acted out
  • Child actor
  • Youth with sexually harmful/hurtful/illegal behavior



Kelly Hagenbaugh
PSB Clinical Supervisor

Learn about other services available through Mission Kids

Forensic Interviews

When kids need to retell their abuse, Mission Kids’ child-centric interviews help build the strongest case while limiting additional trauma.

Collaborative Services

Uniting top prosecutors, detectives, social workers, pediatricians, and therapists, our multidisciplinary team keeps kids at the center of their investigation.

Family Advocacy

No family should go through a child abuse investigation alone. Mission Kids advocates make sure families are supported at every step.

Medical Services

In partnership with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Mission Kids can provide medical evaluation referrals to top pediatricians.

Mental Health Services

The trauma of child abuse is tricky. Mission Kids’ network connects kids to specialized providers who can guide them to a healthier headspace.

Prevention Education & Training

Mission Kids is a national leader in child abuse prevention for kids, caregivers, and professionals. Click to request a training for your organization.
Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center Logo
Contact Us
Follow Us