Vulnerability Factors for Youth with Problematic Sexual Behaviors


There is not a single risk factor that is strong enough to cause a young person to have sexualized behaviors (PSB) with another child. Usually, there are at least 6 or 7 factors involved. To get a full assessment of a child’s overall functioning, I would recommend meeting with a Psychologist who specializes in this area. The most helpful way to use this list is to identify areas of concern to prevent inappropriate behaviors in the future. If you have questions, or want more information, please contact me at Woodhaven Counseling Associates in Omaha, NE or soverby@woodhavencounseling.com


per Wm. Freidrich Ph.D. Book: Children with Sexual Behavior Problems; Family Based Attachment-Focused Therapy
 Exposure to domestic violence or aggressiveness between parents or other adults in home
 Youth exposed to elicit sexual activity or images or information (pornography)
 Modeling of Coercion by adults: authoritarian parenting style, spanking, physical aggression, verbal threats
 Parental Stress and adversity: divorce, death, legal problems, job loss, drug/alcohol use, depression
 Overly permissive sexual attitudes in home
 Youth has poor social skills
 Youth has poor coping skills
 Nudity or lack of modesty in home
 Youth has seen a lot of violence in peers and /or community
 Poor supervision when youth is with other kids
 Youth has poor impulse control; acts w/out thinking
 Developmental delays compared to other children
 Lack of guidance, child is left on their own too much
 Physical abuse or physical harm to the youth
 Sexual abuse history; hands off or hands on offenses


 Emotional abuse of children in family: ignored, bullied, threatened, verbal abuse
 Overly permissive parenting in general
 Repressive or punitive sexual attitudes in family
 Not providing any explanation for age appropriate sexuality
 Chaotic home life; no schedule, rules change often
 Poor family boundaries; too tight or too loose
 Parents not responsible for family’s wellbeing
 Poor family communication
 General family dynamics are extreme
 Low income or poverty; lack of shelter or food
 Intense rivalry between siblings, sometimes unknowingly fostered by parents
 Adults confused about own sexuality or victims of childhood sexual abuse
 Children rely on each other to be soothed, rather than adults
 Parents have had extra marital affairs
 Children disliked or treated differently by parents for reasons not related to the child
 Caregivers unaware of current trends of sexuality on internet/social media


 Social alienation and isolation
 Bullied by peers, feels inferior in peer group
 Lack of same age peer friendships
 Aggressive or threatening to others
 Coercion from peers re: sexuality
 Uses sexuality to form friendships
 Uses sexuality to “look cool” with peers


 Alcohol or drug or pill abuse by the youth
 Uses sexuality to feel strong or powerful
 Uses sexuality to feel affection & love
 Uses sexuality to meet other emotional needs
 Unable to manage sexual arousal appropriately
 Inability to delay gratification
 Overwhelmed by depression or anxiety
 Extreme mood swings or emotional meltdowns
 Can’t think of non-sexual solutions to problems
 Breaking rules at home, school or community
 Has excuses for any wrong behavior
 Feels so special that he/she doesn’t have to follow the same rules as everyone else
 Inability to think for self or make own decisions
 Low self esteem, feels unworthy of a happy life
 Sexual interest in young children
 Is generally coercive in relationships with others
 Criminal history of other types of offenses
 Poor grades in school, lack of interest in school
 Preoccupied with sex and sexuality


 Unable to understand information during sex education from school or parents
 Emotionally immature
 Too young to understand sexuality
 Undeveloped conscience or morals
 Pre-mature puberty, biological and growth factors


 Presence of vulnerable people that could be harmed or tricked into keeping secrets
 Normal sexual outlets for age are limited or not allowed
 Has powerful or controlling role with possible victim (ex: babysitter, older sibling)
 Too much time with TV and video games


 No monitoring of internet use by caregivers (software filters don’t count)
 Crowded living conditions (no private bedrooms)
 Youth has chronic stressors in personal life
 Child observed adult sexual behavior without explanation or ability to understand
 Exposed to traumatic or scary events