Children with Problematic Sexual Behavior


Pathways for Stronger Families: Defining and Treating Problematic Sexual Behaviors (PSB) in Children

Sexual behaviors in children are often the result of harmless curiosity, but there are times when these behaviors become harmful to the children or others. Guidelines now exist for those seeking answers to help determine what are normal developmental behaviors in children and which are problematic. Sexual behaviors in youth are considered problematic when they have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Occur frequently;
  • Take place between children of widely different ages (e.g., a 12 year old and a 4 year old) or between children of different developmental abilities;
  • Involve intrusive interpersonal behavior with other people or animals;
  • Are initiated with strong, upset feelings, such as anger or anxiety;
  • Cause harm or potential harm (physical or emotional) to any child;
  • Do not respond to typical parenting strategies (e.g., discipline); and/or
  • Involve coercion, force, threats, bribery, or aggression of any kind.

Any child can be affected. Both boys and girls display problematic sexual behavior and sexual abuse isn’t necessarily a factor. In fact, most children who have been sexually abused do not exhibit these problems. However, research suggests that many factors can contribute, including:

  • Family sexuality patterns
  • Exposure to sexual material
  • Exposure to family violence
  • Physical abuse
  • Other non-sexual behavior problems

This pioneering program is nationally recognized for its success in treating children.

Help begins with a phone call

Many youngsters who exhibit inappropriate sexual behavior can be helped with outpatient treatment from 12 to 32 weeks. They can live at home and attend school and other outside activities without jeopardizing the safety of other children. Most do not continue to have sexual behavior problems into adolescence and adulthood. Kristi House is providing a program for children ages 7 to 12 years and their caregivers. Behaviors for which children are referred include:

  • Repeatedly exposing themselves to others
  • Excessive masturbation
  • Failure to recognize socially acceptable physical boundaries
  • Aggressive sexual acts

Who can refer to this program

Kristi House’s assessment and group therapy services are provided without cost to the family, except for parking fees. Contact us if you know a child who might benefit from this program. We accept referrals from parents and guardians; DCF; mental health, medical, school and other professionals; law enforcement and State Attorney’s Office; and Miami-Dade Juvenile Services.

Group Treatment

Kristi House Children’s Advocacy Center, with support from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services SAMHSA, offers an evidence-based approach for addressing PSB in school age children.

The Kristi House Pathways for Strong Families program, based on the Oklahoma University Problematic Sexual Behaviors-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (OU PSB-CBT) group treatment model, addresses problematic sexual behavior in school-aged children. These outpatient group treatment programs are recognized and supported by research as being effective in reducing or eliminating problematic sexual behavior in youth. The programs work with caregivers and the youth to increase safety and communication as well as promote healthy, positive choices in youth with PSB.

The first step is an assessment to determine of the group treatment program is a good fit for the child and family. If accepted into the program, children will learn:

  • Guidelines for appropriate sexual behavior
  • Privacy and boundary rules
  • social skills

Caregivers (parents, foster parents, grandparents) also must participate in the weekly program. They learn:

  • To distinguish normal from problematic sexual behaviors in children
  • Appropriate responses to children’s sexual behaviors
  • Ways to prevent sexual behavior problems
  • Effective responses to other behavior problems

Groups are Open for School-aged Children, 7-12 years old, at Kristi House
Spanish – Monday evenings 6-7 p.m.
English – Thursday evenings, 6-7 p.m.
There is no cost to families to participate

All Pathways sessions will be held at Kristi House’s main location.

Kristi House provides services at no cost to all clients regardless of race, religion, age, gender, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, country of origin, or language.  Appropriate communication aids and translation services are available.

For more information, contact the Clinical Supervisor Josefina Costa, or Programs Director Ruthlyn Webster. Via phone call: 305-547-6800

Download Pathways Brochure