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4.4 Children and Young People who Sexually Harm


This chapter details guidance on what is normal sexual behavioural development and what may be concerning. It deals with the actions to be taken following assessment and support services available. This information covers children in Residential Care as well as those in Foster Care.


Working Together To Safeguard Children 2015

Interagency Safeguarding Children Procedures (NSCB and NCSCB), Sexually Harmful Behaviour Procedure


In July 2015, this chapter was extensively updated and should be re-read throughout.


  1. Introduction
  2. Context and Key Features Of Children/Young People who Sexually Harm
  3. What is 'Normal' / Concerning Sexual Behaviour in Children?
  4. Referral and First Steps
  5. Child and Family Assessment
  6. Need and Risk Assessments
  7. Role of CAMHS 'Head 2 Head' Service
  8. The Multi-Agency Planning Meeting
  9. Young People who Deny Allegations
  10. Working with Young People and their Families During Assessment
  11. Suspected abuse in Residential or Foster Care

    Appendix 1: Youth Justice Service (YJS) and Children's Social Care Protocol about Responsibilities and Joint Working

    Appendix 2: Summary of the Aim Model of Risk Assessment

    Appendix 2a: Children Who Sexually Harm (CSH) AIM Assessment (Assessment, Intervention, Management) Flowchart

    Appendix 3: The Aim Model: Lists of Strength and Concern Indicators

    Appendix 4: Threshold for Referral to the CAMHS Head 2 Head Team

    Appendix 5: Referral for AIM Trained social worker to Co-work an Assessment

    Appendix 6: Multi-Agency Planning Meeting

1. Introduction


This guidance aims to help staff make a judgment as to whether the behaviour of one child towards another is within anticipated developmental norms, or is child abuse; it also aims to give guidance about referrals, assessments and service plans. It should be read in conjunction with:

1.2 The same definitions of Sexual Abuse apply to the behaviour of children / young people, as apply to the behaviour of adults who abuse children.
1.3 Similarly, an effective multi-agency approach and partnership working are more likely to provide positive outcomes for the children and young people involved.
1.4 Practitioners undertaking the assessment of these young people should have received training covering the use of the AIM (Assessment, Intervention, Moving On) assessment model.

2. Context and Key Features Of Children/Young People who Sexually Harm


Retrospective studies show that between 25 - 30% of all alleged sexual abuse involves young, mostly male adolescent perpetrators. (Given the predominance of male perpetrators, this guidance will refer throughout to he/his etc, but nonetheless recognises both male and female young people may be perpetrators).

There is no particular bias in relation to the ethnicity of young people with sexually harmful behaviour. Young people with learning disabilities are thought to be over-represented in this group.
2.2 There is no particular bias in relation to the ethnicity of young people with sexually harmful behaviour. Young people with learning disabilities are thought to be over-represented in this group.

3. What is 'Normal' / Concerning Sexual Behaviour in Children?


The boundary between 'normal' sexual experimentation between children and behaviour which is sexually abusive can appear blurred because of:

  • Variations in adults' understanding of what constitutes 'normal' sexual behaviour;
  • Different views about childhood sexual development and how much knowledge children have at certain ages;
  • How current power structures in society - and within peer groups -- affect children's behaviour towards one another;
  • The effect of TV, films, magazines and the availability of pornography.
3.2 An analysis about the nature of sexual development and behaviour will inform the judgement about whether behaviour is abusive

The following considerations should also be addressed in assessing whether the behaviour is, or is likely to be, abusive:

  • What is the nature of the relationship between the alleged "abuser" and the "victim"? Does one party have authority / power over the other? What is the power differential?
  • Is there aggression, coercion, trickery, verbal threat or bribery? If so, this usually indicates an abusive relationship;
  • How often, where and for how long, did the activity happen? One short-lived incident may be abusive. Frequent and persistent activities are strong indicators of abuse;
  • Did the "abuser" encourage the "victim" to believe it was only a game?
  • Did the "victim" believe the behaviour was wrong; is s/he blaming themselves for what happened? If so, the behaviour is likely to be abusive;
  • Have there been attempts to keep the behaviour secret? If so, the reasons for this need to be clarified;
  • How was the activity revealed? Was there a spontaneous account from either "abuser" or "victim"?
  • Does the "abuser" appear to target a particular type of "victim"? Is there a pattern of behaviour? If so, this is indicative of planned abuse;
  • "Normal" exploratory behaviour tends to be short-lived. Developing patterns of more frequent, severe or deviant behaviour with successive and / or younger "victims" are indicative of abuse;
    • If the sexual activity is not likely to be within the child's age range and the child shows extensive sexual knowledge, and / or there are age-inappropriate sexual motivators in the behaviour of the "abuser", the activity is likely to be abusive.




There are three broad areas which will assist in defining an abusive context:

Absence of Consent

Consent is based on informed choice, is active and not passive, and generally only possible where there is equal power and equal understanding. Forcing, threatening, tricking or bribing another child to go along with the activity is not consent. Therefore true consent is informed, not forced; it occurs within an equal relationship, free from any pressure to comply.

Over and above this, it is important to recognise that the legal age for consent to sexual intercourse is 16 for both sexes. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 also creates new offences in relation to any sexual acts involving children under 13. The presumption is that these children cannot give (or be said to give) consent, by virtue of their age.

Power Imbalance

Abuse of power is critical. Perceived differentials of power can be thought of in several ways. In relation to age, the greater the age difference, the more likely it is that there will be abuse. Also differences in size, gender, family support, peer popularity (including bullying relationships) and cognitive functioning are high indicators that power differences will be abused.


Exploitation occurs when advantage is taken of a position of authority or trust to secure compliance, e.g. older sibling or relative, babysitter, gang leader, school prefect.
  3.4.2 Whilst no single indicator is always definitive, the presence of one or more of the above should alert staff to enquire in more detail.
  3.4.3 Professional judgement is required to consider why a particular behaviour is inappropriate or abusive. If an act appears to be inappropriate, but not abusive, there may still be a need for some kind of behaviour management or other intervention, particularly if the children / young people involved live in the same household or unit.
  3.4.4 Acts of omission or commission by a parent / carer which have placed or left the child at risk indicate the need to consider child protection procedures.

Useful link to aid the assessment of sexual behaviour which is concerning:

Brook – Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool

4. Referral and First Steps

4.1 Where the sexual behaviour of a child is considered to be abusive the details must be passed on without delay to Children’s Social Care, by whichever agency becomes aware of it, via the MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) or to the appropriate Children's Social Care Team (for an open case).
4.2 On receipt of the information, separate referrals must be opened on both / all the young people involved, those alleged to have offended and those alleged to be victims.

5. Child and Family Assessment


Where there is reason to suspect that a child or young person has sexually abused another child, the needs of alleged offender and alleged victim and the potential for further abuse must receive a child and Family Assessment.  There may be some situations where, to prevent conflicts of interest, allocation of alleged offender and victim to different workers should be considered.

The responsible Children's Social Care Team Manager will discuss with the relevant Youth Justice Service and agree who will undertake assessment with the young person who is alleged to have offended. The protocol between the Youth Justice Service and Children's Social Care covering this is attached as Appendix 1: Targeted Support and Youth Justice Service and Children's Social Care Protocol about Responsibilities and Joint Working.
5.2 The Child and Family Assessment will consider whether an AIM assessment is needed. The Team Manager(s) will exercise their professional judgment regarding whether an incident has occurred, and that the described circumstances are considered abusive, making reference to the age of the child, the child’s gender, and the extent of the child’s learning needs.
5.3 Early discussions should take place with the police in the normal way to clarify their involvement and agree a strategy for investigation / assessment.

6. Need and Risk Assessments


Following Child and Family Assessment, the Team Manager (Children's Social Care) / Team Manager (Targeted Support and Youth Justice team) will consider whether a young person against whom an allegation has been made should be further assessed with Child and Family Assessment/ Core asset and AIM. (S)he will contact a Child Protection Coordinator immediately to discuss and agree:

  • Whether or not the threshold for an AIM Assessment is met in the particular case (in terms of both the abusiveness of the incident and the grounds to suspect that it has happened) and (if it is);
  • The date for a multi-agency planning meeting to be held within 35 working days, to consider the outcome of the completed assessment;
  • Arrangements for invitations, venue and other preparation.
6.2 If the case is already in the Family Proceedings Court, permission of the court is required to carry out the Child and Family/AIM2 Assessment.

The specific tool being used to assess needs and risks with this group is the AIM assessment model.

The AIM assessment should be used for all young people 10 – 18 years.

The assessment completed will be holistic, incorporating the ’Assessment framework’ and using the additional AIM tools and scales Nottinghamshire County Council note that the AIM model is only validated by research for young males aged 12 – 18 years who do not have specific learning difficulties. However, notwithstanding this, the AIM assessment provides a useful model to assist  professionals working with the child / young person and his/her family to carry out an assessment of sexually harmful behaviour.

A summary of the AIM assessment model is given in Appendix 2: Summary of the Aim Model of Risk Assessment and Appendix 3: The Aim Model: Lists of Strength and Concern Indicators.
6.4 In practice, these assessments will be made using information from a series of visits and other contacts with the young person, their family and relevant professionals, in the usual way within the 35 working day time frame.

7. Role of CAMHS 'Head 2 Head' Service

7.1 The CAHMS 'HEAD 2 HEAD' team will offer a specialist service to young people who display sexually harmful behaviour, who, following the completion of an AIM assessment, are judged to be of 'high concern' (as per the AIM assessment outcome matrix). The service may become involved in certain other circumstances where the young person presents with significant emotional health / mental health or learning disability issues. Where these factors are present it may be appropriate to consult the service at the beginning of any assessment. Appendix 4 explains the threshold for referral to the service and provides contact details. The service will also provide consultation on any case in this category. Dependant on the outcome of the assessment case workers should consider inviting a member of the team to the multi-agency planning meeting.

8. The Multi-Agency Planning Meeting


The multi-agency planning meeting will be held within 35 working days of agreement by the Child Protection Coordinator (CPC) that further assessment with AIM is required.

The functions of the Multi-agency Planning Meeting are:

  • To bring together parents / carers and all the professionals currently involved with the young person;
  • To discuss the outcome of the AIM risk assessment, with a view to agreeing on the level and type of risk which he may pose in different settings (e.g. at home, at school, in public places);
  • To consider the holistic assessment, agree on how his/her needs are to be met in a service plan to be offered to him and his family, and establish whether there is family agreement to this plan;
  • The plan should specifically include offering input to help reduce the risk of a pattern of sexual abusive behaviour developing, if this is indicated after discussion of the assessment;
  • To recommend actions to manage the risk of sexual abuse in the family and community, as indicated by the assessment, bearing in mind any criminal justice action being taken.

Worker(s) undertaking the AIM assessment will provide a report for the Multi-agency Planning Meeting detailing the outcome.(see Appendix 6: Multi-Agency Planning Meeting). A summary of the AIM assessment will be included in the current Child and Family Assessment.

The Multi-Agency Planning Meeting should be chaired by a Child Protection Coordinator (CPC), with the assistance of a child protection minute-taker.
8.3 Invitations should be sent to parents / carers and relevant professionals. Although there is a different agenda and purpose to the meeting, preparation of parents / carers should follow the same principles as are used in enabling parents to attend and participate in child protection conferences.
8.4 Because of the sensitive nature of such allegations and the young person's right to privacy, agency invitations should be limited to individuals with a need to know and / or a direct contribution to make. The following should be considered, as appropriate to each case: social worker, Team Manager, Youth Justice Service case-manager, police officer, a senior manager from school, community child health nurse, GP, CAMHS.
8.5 There may some young people who demonstrate that they understand the issues involved and wish to attend or send in their views. Whether and how they are to participate should be considered in discussion with the CPC/ chair of the meeting.
8.6 In many cases the outcome of the meeting will be a multi-agency Child in Need service plan to address the identified needs of the young person and their family, including any risk management elements.
8.7 In these cases further multi-agency meetings may be needed to review progress on the plan. These will be in the form of Children in Need Reviews (Children's Social Care) or other appropriate review meetings (Youth Justice Service).
8.8 If there is on-going risky behaviour requiring active management, the young person may meet the criteria for continuing use of risk strategy meetings, organised in the same way as Level One of the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA). Some young people who have been previously convicted of sexual or violent offences and who present the highest risk may meet the criteria for MAPPA and should continue to be dealt with under those arrangements.

9. Young People who Deny Allegations

9.1 It is common for young people to deny allegations of sexual abuse made against them outright. Some will acknowledge that an incident took place, but minimise their part in it. In some cases there is enough evidence for the Crown Prosecution Service to bring a criminal case; in others, an uncorroborated statement from a young, vulnerable witness is considered unlikely to result in a successful prosecution.
9.2 In those situations where prosecution is pursued and the young person continues to deny the allegations, the Youth Justice Service is unable to become involved in offence related assessments pre-trial (see Appendix 1, paragraph 3.2). In these circumstances Children's Social Care will be responsible for the assessment and convening of the multi-agency meeting.
9.3 In practice, because of the difficulty in obtaining supporting evidence, a large proportion of those who deny allegations will not be prosecuted because there is no prospect of establishing their guilt at the criminal standard of proof, 'beyond reasonable doubt'. Children's Social Care retains responsibility for intervention with these families.  In these cases a Child and Family Assessment with AIM should still be completed by Children’s Social Care and a Multi-Agency Planning Meeting arranged. In most circumstances it should be possible to collect enough information to form a view about risk.
9.4 Denial should not be taken as any indication of the truth, or otherwise, of an allegation, nor should it be assumed that an alleged offender who denies is intrinsically more, or less, likely to abuse in the future.
9.5 A young person may deny in an attempt to avoid coming to terms with their responsibility and/or avoid others becoming aware of their behaviour. His family may not want to think of him being responsible for Sexual Abuse of another child and it is possible for parents to close their minds to the possibility early on, not to question the young person's honesty, and even to blame the alleged victim or their family for inventing the allegation.
9.6 Denial also acts to turn away agency intervention at the point where research indicates it is likely to be most effective, i.e. early on.
9.7 Assessment of the risk of an alleged offender establishing a pattern of sexually abusive behaviour in the future is as important when there is denial as when the allegation is admitted. Workers should therefore avoid the temptation to back away as soon as there is denial.
9.8 Young people are entitled to legal advice when the Police want to speak to them about allegations. Workers conducting assessments where a prosecution is pending should collect information from as many sources as possible including from the police in terms of offence related information. Any direct discussions with the young person about the offence itself should not take place without the express agreement of the Police / Crown prosecution service (the latter if felt necessary would be sought via the police). The agreement of the young person's solicitor should also be sought. In most circumstances it should be possible to collect enough information to form a view about immediate risk pre-trial without the need for direct offence related discussions with the young person.

10. Working with Young People and their Families During Assessment


The role of the social worker is:

  • To assess whether there is a risk of harm - to the young person; or
  • To other children - and act to protect where necessary, using child protection procedures;
  • To offer assessment of needs; and
  • To provide appropriate services, including support to the family during the crisis brought on by the allegation / Police intervention, etc.
10.2 The risk to other children in the same household will need immediate assessment and may require the family to take specific protective action to remove or reduce the opportunities for abuse for the time being until the risk assessment is completed. In the absence of cooperation from the family Children's Social Care will need to consider the need to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference and/or may need to consider taking protective legal action.
10.3 The social worker should ask about all opportunities the young person has to be alone with younger or more vulnerable children. These may include school, leisure activities, baby-sitting, contact with the children of extended family or family friends, etc. Parents should be expected to take any necessary action to restrict or supervise the young person's contact within the family and community if there is concern.
10.4 It is important to ask if there have been any previous suspicions or concerns about the young person's sexual behaviour within the family and community, whether or not they were reported to any agency, so as to be clear if a pattern of inappropriate behaviour has been forming.
10.5 It sometimes becomes clear early on that a young person is saying that he himself has been sexually abused in the past. This should be listened to and addressed within a separate interview process (as per the Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Boards’ Safeguarding Children Procedures). What he says may require an urgent response, depending on the circumstances. Nevertheless the focus of work with him also needs to return to the consequences of his own sexual behaviour now.
10.6 There are a number of young people who have multiple needs: they may be in trouble in other ways, have behaviour issues at home and at school, have learning needs / a learning disability, difficulties in social relationships, poor parental boundaries or difficult socio-economic circumstances. For these young people, poor sexual boundaries and / or sexually aggressive behaviour can be seen as part of this greater range of needs, requiring a wider approach on top of specific attention to sexual issues.
10.7 Young people and their parents sometimes fear that they will 'get a name' in their community, resulting in further allegations being made in future. Those who maintain denial about an allegation may still cooperate with an approach based on working together to avoid this happening.
10.8 Further guidance is contained within the Interagency Safeguarding Children Procedures of the Nottinghamshire Safeguarding Children Board (NSCB) Manual, Sexually Harmful Behaviour.

11. Suspected abuse in Residential or Foster Care

11.1 It is important to create a positive model of relationships within care placements, where there is respect for children's rights; where there are clear behavioural boundaries; where support is given to develop self-responsibility, self-worth and impulse control; and where children feel safe to speak out.
11.2 The primary responsibilities of staff in residential care and of foster-carers are to create and maintain this nourishing and safeguarding environment.
11.3 In defining whether sexual behaviour is abusive, section 3 (above) should be referred to. Young people in the care system are very much under scrutiny and it is important to use the same threshold as with others who live with their own families.
11.4 Children whose life experiences have meant they have to live away from their families of origin are more likely than other children to have emotional and behavioural problems, social difficulties and low self-esteem. Some may have particular difficulties handling their sexual feelings and conforming to norms of sexual behaviour. They are also vulnerable to being sexually abused or exploited by other young people (as well as adults).
11.5 Where suspicions or allegations of a child or young person sexually abusing another child emerge within a residential unit or foster home, it is vital that they are treated seriously and in the same way as with children living at home.
11.6 The initial actions to be taken follow the same principles and process as when any other sexual abuse allegation is received by the Department.
11.7 Invitations to the Multi-agency Planning Meeting (Section 8, The Multi-Agency Planning Meeting above) should include the relevant Registered Care Manager, or social worker (Fostering). The Independent Reviewing Officer (Children Looked After) should be informed with a view to deciding if it is appropriate to attend. Because of the potential significance of a looked after child being involved, the Group Manager (Fieldwork) responsible for the child concerned and the Group Manager Head (Regulated Services) should also be informed.
11.8 The meeting will make recommendations which should be incorporated into the young person's placement and care plans.

If a young person is thought to be engaged in sexually exploiting other young people, see the Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Boards' (NSCB) Procedures Manual:

Practice Guidance, Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation,


Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Boards Manual, Child Sexual Exploitation Procedure.

Appendix 1: Youth Justice Service (YJS) and Children's Social Care Protocol about Responsibilities and Joint Working

1. First Youth caution

1.1 In the majority of cases the YJS will only be notified that a youth caution has been issued. In the event that that the YJS is contacted by the police to undertake an assessment, the process detailed in section 2 (below) should be followed.
1.2 In the event that a first youth caution has been issued for a sexual offence without the involvement of the YJS in assessing the young person, the Youth Justice service will not have a statutory role. As a result  assessments will fall to Children's social care.

2. Second or subsequent Youth Caution or Youth Conditional Caution

2.1 The Youth Justice Service will undertake the assessment and convene the Multi-agency Planning Meeting, liaising with Children's Social Care.
2.2 The date for completion of the assessment and the holding of the meeting will need to be before the Police bail-back date.

3. Prosecutions

3.1 First offence and 'guilty' plea
  3.1.1 The Youth Justice Service will pick up responsibility for these immediately, with the AIM assessment completed and Multi-agency Planning Meeting held prior to any Referral Order Panel.
  3.1.2 Liaison and possible joint work with Children's Social Care will be undertaken, as outlined above.
3.2 'Not guilty' Plea
  3.2.1 The Youth Justice Service are unable to become involved in offence-related assessments pre-trial, although will contribute to any bail assessment.
  3.2.2 Any cases coming to the attention of the Youth Justice Service will be immediately referred to the relevant Children's Social Care team, who will take responsibility for convening the multi-agency planning meeting and completing the AIM assessment.
  3.2.3 The views of Children's Social Care in relation to initial bail assessment / remand to care will be represented by the Youth Justice Service in court if appropriate. (Where the young person is looked after or where court are considering a remand to LAA, the court will expect a field social worker to be present).
  3.2.4 The Youth Justice  worker will be invited to the multi-agency planning meeting.
  3.2.5 If the young person is subsequently found guilty, Youth Justice  worker will complete a PSR which will be informed by the AIM assessment already completed. Given the not guilty plea, it is possible the AIM assessment will not have been fully completed. In these circumstances, the Children's Social Care SW and Youth Justice  worker will confer and agree which areas warrant further exploration and who should lead on completing these. The Youth Justice  worker will normally be present at any further sessions with the young person prior to sentencing.
  3.2.6 If the young person is found not-guilty, the Youth Justice worker will inform Children's Social Care, who will continue to be responsible for risk assessment.
3.3 Second (and subsequent) offences and 'guilty' plea
  3.3.1 The Youth Justice  worker will convene the multi-agency planning meeting (which is then likely to be held post-sentence) and complete the AIM assessment.
  3.3.2 If custody is being considered, the Youth Justice Service will be asked to complete a PSR. The AIM assessment will both inform the PSR and the multi-agency planning meeting.
  3.3.3 The Youth Justice  worker will liaise with Children's Social Care, as outlined above.

4. No reported offence

4.1 Children's Social Care will take responsibility for convening the Multi-agency Planning Meeting and completing the AIM assessment

Appendix 2: Summary of the Aim Model of Risk Assessment

Nottinghamshire has adopted the use of the AIM2 (Assessment, Intervention, Management Risk) Assessment Model 2 and a number of staff in each locality will have been given training in its use.

The AIM 2 model is designed to assist professional judgement on the management, placement and intervention needs of a young person who has harmed sexually. Where a specific learning need/ disability has been identified, specialist advice from the HEAD2Head service should be obtained before proceeding with an AIM assessment. Please note that the model does not make decisions for assessors but can support decision making. The model is drawn on current evidence: understanding and thinking which should inform and influence good practice.

The young person who may have committed the harmful sexual behaviour may or may not have been charged/prosecuted/convicted of the abuse. This model is equally applicable to those young persons who are known to have harmed sexually but do not enter, for whatever reason, the criminal justice system.

The Child and Family Assessment/AIM2 Report should ideally be undertaken by a co-working pair (usually the AIM trained worker and allocated worker) and to be completed within the agreed timescale i.e. 35 days.

The model is not designed to be used unless there is a starting point i.e. a particular incident / offence. The assessing worker collects information about a range of factors about the alleged offender, his developmental history, family circumstances and community environment, as well as offence-specific attitudes and behaviour.

If the young person is likely to be prosecuted but denies the referral offence and may not plead guilty then he should not be interviewed as part of this assessment process without explicit agreement of his legal representative, police and CPS. Similar consideration should be given to interviews with members of the young person’s family. In such circumstances or others where the young person does not agree to participate, a ‘Stage 1 paperwork assessment’ (see Assessment Structure below) may be carried out based on all available information. However, it should be stressed that such an assessment will have its limitations but should still be useful in making an immediate assessment of risk pre trial.

Assessment Structure

The AIM assessment framework consists of 10 steps (set out below) to assist and encourage practitioners in gathering and analysing information on the risks posed by the young person, as well as on their needs. The worker leading the assessment ideally should:

  1. Identify the assessors, the consultant and dates for the completion of the report, and subsequent multi-disciplinary meeting for discussion;
  2. Observe the memorandum interview or read the victim statement;
  3. Listen to the PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) interview or any account given by the young person regarding their behaviour;
  4. Read files and collate any information held by other professionals;
  5. Use the AIM Project assessment model to identify what is known and not known;
  6. Plan the interview with the young person and the parents/carers, aiming to fill in the missing information, and to prepare them for the assessment process;
  7. Interview the young person;
  8. Interview the parents/carers;
  9. Draw conclusions about the young person’s risk, needs, capacity to change, and the degree of support parents/carers can provide;
  10. Complete the assessment and take to the multi-agency meeting.

The AIM2 Assessment Model

The model is based on four domains:

  • Harmful sexual and non-sexual behaviours;
  • Development;
  • Family;
  • Environment.

Thus the model links with the Child and Family Assessment process, where the focus is on the last three domains and the ASSET tool used within the Youth Justice forum, where focus includes the first domain. In this way it is intended that the model has relevance to both systems and draws on the knowledge and skills of the professionals involved in each.

A particular benefit of the AIM2 model remains its scope to identify an individual’s needs identified by the dynamic factors (changeable thoughts, feelings, behaviours and external factors) which will be significant in planning a programme of intervention.

This revised AIM2 is therefore able to offer an initial, evidence based tool that can be used to begin to consider the level of supervision that is required for an individual, together with their developmental and intervention needs.

The AIM2 model considers the concerns raised in each of these domains, and then the strengths. As a result, the outcome provides guidance in relation to the level of risk that the young person presents, and the level of supervision and support required to manage this risk.

Each domain has a list of questions which are scored using the guidance provided. Some questions are fact-based (static) whilst others are dynamic requiring professional judgement, justifying the value of co-working the AIM2 assessment.

Example: the young person who has sexually harmful behaviour, may have grown up in a family where he experienced some degree of neglect and witnessed domestic violence at a very young age. However, he has a more secure attachment figure in his maternal grandmother. The former requires professional judgement on ‘static’ ‘concerns’, (those that cannot be changed) whilst the latter requires professional judgement on ‘dynamic’ ‘strengths’ (those can be worked with or can change).


Once the assessment questions have all been answered, the outcome scores for each section are totalled and placed on an Outcome Sheet. This scoring is then transferred to a Matrix which provides an overall risk assessment outcome, giving guidance about the type of further interventions which may be helpful. The outcomes for each domain will be calculated as high, medium or low concern. Finally a supervision level is calculated as high, medium or low.


The information gathered from the Strengths questions will provide a solid foundation for developing a relevant support plan at whichever level of supervision has been identified.

Tools used for interviewing the young person

As with all assessments it is essential to see the young person and ascertain his views, wishes and feelings. Some of the conversation with him may be difficult due to the nature of the offence. It is therefore really important to consider carefully the tools to use to facilitate responses and gathering the relevant information needed for the AIM2 Assessment, whether or not the young man is denying the incident.

The following is a list of tools which may be helpful:

  • Family tree – exploring family members and relationships;
  • Ecomap – exploring friends and family relationships and attachment figures;
  • Timeline – exploring childhood experiences;
  • Cartoon sketch-boards with captions e.g. what you do in school, when being bullied, on the playground etc;
  • Islands exercise – relationships, fears and anxieties in their world;
  • My worlds exercise – referring to ‘caring world; angry world; hurting world; happy world and sexual world. Segments of a ‘pie’ are allocated for each part of the young person’s world and then positive and negative influencing figures and relationships are discussed in relation to each segment.

Appendix 2a: Children Who Sexually Harm (CSH) AIM Assessment (Assessment, Intervention, Management) Flowchart

Click here to view Children Who Sexually Harm (CSH) AIM Assessment (Assessment, Intervention, Management) Flowchart

Appendix 3: The Aim Model: Lists of Strength and Concern Indicators

Click here to view Appendix 3: The Aim Model: Lists of Strength and Concern Indicators

Appendix 4: Threshold for Referral to the CAMHS Head 2 Head Team

  1. Young people who are identified by the AIM2 assessment as having a high/medium supervision level who have associated significant emotional/mental needs and/or learning disability needs should be referred to HEAD2HEAD. Such young people are likely to need a more detailed specialist, comprehensive assessment (Print, Morrison and Henniker 2001);
  2. In these cases, HEAD2HEAD should be invited to the multi-agency planning meeting to discuss the completed AIM2 assessment, and to plan intervention and the responsibilities of the different agencies involved;
  3. Even if the young person receives a custodial penalty, HEAD2HEAD should be involved from the multi-agency planning meeting stage, so that intervention can be planned whilst in custody that will also be provided upon release;
  4. HEAD2HEAD can offer consultation, support, advice and training for the case workers working with this group of young people, regarding how best to manage and treat their on-going sexually harming behaviour and on-going risk assessment. HEAD2HEAD can also offer further specialist risk assessments, treatment and intervention for high risk cases where there is no emotional/mental health needs and/or learning needs.

Appendix 5: Referral for AIM Trained social worker to Co-work an Assessment

When it has been agreed that the threshold for completing an AIM assessment has been met, an AIM trained co-worker needs to be allocated who can support the allocated social worker to complete their assessment incorporating the AIM2 methodology. The Team Manager for the Social Work Practice Consultant Team holds the list / rota for AIM tried social workers. 

The responsible Team Manager should send an e-mail to advising that an AIM Trained social worker is required to co-work the case, confirming the name and date of birth of the alleged perpetrator, the name of the child protection co-ordinator who has agreed that the AIM assessment is needed and the date when this discussion took place.

All AIM assessments should be completed by two social workers, therefore if the allocated social worker is already AIM trained the same process for allocation of a second AIM trained social worker will take place.

Where possible an AIM trained social worker from the same team will be assigned to co-work the assessment, if this is not possible then a Social Work Practice Consultant, or AIM trained social worker form another team will be assigned to the case as a co-worker. 

Appendix 6: Multi-Agency Planning Meeting


  1. Introductions and apologies;
  2. Statement by Chairperson:
    • Purpose of the meeting;
    • How the meeting will be managed.
  3. Family / household structure;
  4. Originating allegation and Police investigation;
  5. Outcome of Children's Social Care / Youth Justice Service assessment;
  6. Other information / issues from agencies;
  7. Views of parents / carers;
  8. Views of young person;
  9. Analysis;
    1. The present level of risk posed (in the family and community);
    2. Actions needed to manage / reduce this risk;
    3. Changes needed to help avoid sexually harmful behaviour in the future (if this is indicated).
      • Chair's summary;
      • Recommended plan;
      • Any expectations agreed with family / young person to reduce risk;
    4. How any risk management plan will be monitored;
    5. Services required to support young person and family / to make changes;
    6. Agency professionals responsible;
    7. Identify a key worker;
    8. Information sharing (with young person, others) by whom;
    9. Arrangements for review.