Behaviour is harmful or concerning when...

  • It is different from that of other children of the same age
  • The sexual behaviour continues despite repeated requests to stop
  • The child appears driven to engage in sexual behaviour regardless of whether or not they will be punished or reprimanded
  • Other children complain about the child’s sexual behaviour or are adversely affected
  • The child uses sexual behaviour to hurt, frighten or upset other children
  • The sexual behaviour is engaged in by children of different ages or developmental levels
  • One child uses force, threats, bribery or coercion to get the other child to participate in sexual behaviour
  • One child forces another child to keep the sexual behaviour a secret
  • The sexual behaviour progresses in frequency, intensity or intrusiveness over time
  • The child’s sexual behaviour is directed at adults who feel uncomfortable about it
  • The child manually stimulates or has oral or genital contact with animal/s
  • Verbal and/or physical expressions of anger precede, follow or accompany the sexual behaviour.

Information sourced from Understanding Children’s Sexual Behaviours by Toni Cavanagh Johnson, PhD, and Ending Offending Together by Caroline Witten-Hannah, Frances Miller, John McCarthy.

Safe Network's services

Early Intervention Fact Sheet

Safe Network offers a specialist clinical assessment and intervention service for children aged 5-12 years who display problematic or concerning sexual behaviour.

Many children engage in and display a range of sexualised behaviour that is healthy and normal for their age. But sometimes children engage in or display sexualised behaviour that causes others to be concerned because it is unusual for their age or it makes others feel uncomfortable, confused or hurt.

Early Intervention fact sheet

In addition to individual services for children, Safe provides the following further specialist services:

Te Kakano

Safe Network offers specialist intervention services for children (5 – 12 years), through kaupapa Māori therapeutic models of practice.

Approximately 25% of Safe’s clients are Māori. The services under Te Kakano have been developed by and are delivered by Maori practitioners for Maori clients. Safe also has the external guidance and oversight of a kaumatua.

Amanaki Pasifika

Safe Network offers specialist intervention pathways for Pasifika children (5 – 12 years).

Our Amanaki Pasifika service has been developed and is led by clinicians of Samoan and Tongan descent who are fluent in their language and able to meet the clinical and cultural needs of this client group.

Women and girls

Safe Network offers specialist clinical assessment and intervention service for women and girls who present with concerning and harmful sexual behaviour, and for their families.

This service pathway spans the range of Safe’s service areas and was designed to understand and accommodate the specific needs of female clients by providing a gender-responsive and collaborative service that acknowledges the social and cultural realities of women and girls.

Women and girls fact sheet


We provide services for those who have accessed, traded, or produced child sexual abuse material or who have engaged or communicated with children and young people online in a sexual context (grooming).

What is the process

At Safe Network we want to make sure you get the help you need. It is important to assess whether Safe is the right place to provide that help. We conduct an assessment to find out about the individual, their history and the sexual behaviour that has brought them to Safe. Their strengths and resources will be assessed, as well as their problems.

Family members and partners are part of the assessment process. The effects of the concerning or harmful sexual behaviour, the safety of others and the needs of the family are all important factors for consideration.

Although assessment processes across the service areas may have aspects unique to the focus of that client group, all assessments are likely to involve the following:

  • Up to four interviews with the individual and their significant family members or support person(s)
  • Collection of information and reports from other agencies or professionals who are involved e.g. CYF, Police, counsellors
  • Completion of written questionnaires and psychological tests by the client and their adult family member or other support person(s).

Once the interviews and tests are completed, a detailed report is prepared. This will make recommendations about the person’s suitability for acceptance into Safe’s care. A copy of this report, including recommendations about the next steps, will be sent to the referring agency or person.

If an individual is accepted into Safe’s care, they will be allocated to a suitable clinician to undertake the intervention. Individuals are offered a tailored pathway within a suitable service that could range from 6-18 months’ duration. Each service includes all or some of the following:

  • Weekly group sessions
  • Weekly one-to-one appointments as required
  • Monthly family sessions
  • Annual intensive group therapy intervention of three days’ duration.

Expected outcomes

Our goal is to work with you to ensure you are able to lead a safe and healthy life.

This means that when you leave Safe’s care, we expect that you:

  • Do not commit further offenses of any kind
  • Take full responsibility for your offending behaviour
  • Gain acceptance as a safe, responsible member of your family and whānau
  • Are able to have safe intimate relationships with others
  • Have created a safe and healthy lifestyle

Research indicates that around 95% of adults1 and 98% of adolescents2 with sexually harmful behaviour who complete one of Safe’s services will not engage in any further harmful sexual behaviour.

  1. Community Solutions for the Community’s Problem: An outcome evaluation of three New Zealand community child sex offender treatment programmes, by Ian Lambie and Malcolm Stewart, 2003
  2. Getting it Right: An evaluation of New Zealand community treatment programmes for adolescents who sexually offend.  Ka pu e ruha, ka hao te rangatahi, by Ian Lambie, 2007.


Safe Network fact sheets

Introduction to Safe Network clinical services

Early Intervention fact sheet

Youth Services fact sheet

Adult Services fact sheet

Women and girls fact sheet