Sexual development is influenced by many factors. The environment in which children grow, develop and interact has a significant influence on their knowledge, attitudes and behaviours. When using the traffic lights framework to establish whether the sexual behaviour of children or young people is normal, concerning or harmful, it is necessary to consider the current social, cultural and familial context.
The chart on the next page lists specific examples of green, orange and red light behaviours at various ages. These are examples only and must be considered in context. Take into account the age and ability level of the child, young person and others involved as well as the location, frequency and nature of the behaviour.
Use the traffic lights framework to identify the characteristics of the behaviour and the way it occurs and then follow steps 2 and 3 to understand and respond. All green, orange and red behaviours require some level of information, support and protective response.
Red sexual behaviours are problematic or harmful, forceful, secretive, compulsive, coercive or degrading signal the need to provide immediate protection and follow up support. Read more.
Orange sexual behaviours are outside normal behaviour in terms of persistence, frequency or inequality in age, power or ability signal the need to monitor and provide extra support. Read more.
Green sexual behaviours are normal, age appropriate, spontaneous, curious, mutual, light hearted and easily diverted experimentation provide opportunities to talk, explain and support. Read more.