Harmful Sexual Behaviours Among Children and Young People On-Line: Cultural and Regulatory Challenges

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


In recent years, harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) among children and young people, particularly within virtual contexts, has featured prominently within social, legal and professional discourses. Drawing on two empirical projects conducted by the authors, this Chapter critically explores the cultural and social dimensions attached to digital forms of HSB and how they are influencing contemporary normative understandings of peer-based sexual behaviour as exploration rather than exploitation. We argue that prevailing socio-cultural pressures are resulting in blurred boundaries around ‘normal’ or ‘healthy’ sexual behaviour among peers. The main objective of the Chapter is, therefore, to illustrate the complexities surrounding HSB among young people, including how young people are influenced by social and cultural paradigms in negotiating their own sexual identities and in particular the tension between consent and coercion. Antiquated legal and policy frameworks, however, often fail to take account of the rapidly changing social and cultural norms which lie at the heart of such behaviours. Given the limitations of regulatory frameworks in addressing HSB among young people, the Chapter also briefly explores the need for broader educative responses which better address the nuances and complexities of HSB.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSexual Violence on Trial
Subtitle of host publicationLocal and Comparative Perspectives
EditorsRachel Killean, Eithne Dowds, Anne-Marie McAlinden
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2021


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