Sexual Health and Relationships


The Health and Well-being Standard
Regulation 10


Promoting the health and well-being of looked-after children: Statutory guidance for local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and NHS England

NHS Choices –Sexual Health


In November 2017 Section 3, Pornography was updated to include advice for staff on how to deal with issues relating to young people’s access to pornography online.


  1. Provision of Information and Advice
  2. Puberty and Sexual Identity
  3. Pornography
  4. Sexual Activity in Homes
  5. Contraception
  6. Pregnancy and Termination
  7. Sexual Exploitation
  8. Sexually Transmitted Infections
  9. Masturbation
  10. Peer Group Abuse

1. Provision of Information and Advice

Home’s managers must ensure that children are provided with age appropriate, good quality, up to date information, support and advice on matters relating to sexual health and relationships. This information should supplement what information which is provided through the child’s school/educational setting.

2. Puberty and Sexual Identity

Staff must adopt a non-judgemental attitude toward children, particularly as they mature and develop an awareness of their bodies and their sexuality.

Staff must adopt the same approach to children who are confused about or wish to explore their gender identity, sexual identity or who have decided to embrace a particular lifestyle (so long as it is not abusive or illegal).

Children who are confused about their sexual identity or gender identity must be provided with information, advice and support.

As necessary this must be addressed in Placement Plans.

3. Pornography

The use of online filters can help to ensure that younger children do not accidentally access pornographic or sexual images online. See UK Safer Internet for more information,

Older young people are likely to be curious about sex and relationships and may search for online for pornographic or sexual material. It is important that staff have an open discussion with young people about pornographic images and the impact that viewing these can have on young people and their own developing relationships. The NSPCC have produced comprehensive guidance for parents and carers on how to talk to young people about online porn and healthy relationships.

For more information please see Online porn - Advice on how to talk to your child about the risks of online porn and sexually explicit material (NSPCC).

4. Sexual Activity in Homes

Children under the age of 13 years are unable in law to consent to sexual activity. Therefore, where there are concerns that children under this age have been sexually abused or exploited they must be referred to Children’s Social Care under the Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP) Procedures.

When staff have concerns that children living in the home are engaging in sexual relationships, they should:

  1. Ensure the basic safety of all the children concerned;
  2. Notify the home’s manager, who should notify/consult relevant social workers and consider reviewing the child's Placement Plan;
  3. Record all events in the Daily Log, relevant child's Daily Record. If required an incident report should be completed.

5. Contraception

Access to contraceptives are not conditional on children giving information about their lifestyles, and contraception will never be withdrawn as a punitive measure.

If children in the home are engaging in sexual activity (even before they reach the age of consent) staff must take reasonable steps to minimise the risk of pregnancy or infection. This could include facilitating contact with relevant agencies providing contraceptive advice; such as the Brook Advisory Service or local Sexual Health Services.

Matters of concern must be discussed with the social worker and addressed in Placement Plans.

6. Pregnancy and Termination

If a child is suspected or known to be pregnant, the manager should talk to the child about who should be informed and what support the child may require to promote their own and the unborn baby's welfare.

Under normal circumstances, the child's social worker and parent(s) should be informed and should collaborate with the child in drawing up a suitable plan for the promotion of the welfare of the parent to be and the unborn child.

However, a child may request that their parent(s) are not informed, and if they have capacity to make such a decision this should be respected.

In all cases where there are any concerns that the young woman or the unborn child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, the manager must discuss it with the child's social worker with a view to making a Child Protection referral. In these circumstances it must be explained to the child why her request for confidentiality cannot be agreed. See Referring Safeguarding Concerns Procedure.

See Consents and Delegated Authority.

Where a child wishes to terminate a pregnancy, the social worker must be notified/consulted with a view to providing advice, counselling and support by suitably qualified independent counsellors.

If the termination goes ahead, the manager must ensure that the child's privacy is protected and any physical or emotional needs are addressed sensitively.

7. Sexual Exploitation

The following should be read in conjunction with the Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP) Procedures.

Children who are placed in Children’s Homes may have previously experienced sexual exploitation. Some children may continue to be exploited even when they are accommodated by the authority. Both boys and girls can be sexually exploited.

The manager and all staff must be alert signs of sexual exploitation, and should do all they can to create an environment which encourages children to be open about their experiences and which offers them support.

Where there are any concerns that a child is being sexually exploited, it should be addressed in the child's Placement Plan.

Where children living the home are being sexually exploited, their social worker must be notified, and the home's manager, must make a notification to Ofsted and the Police. See Notification of Serious Events Procedure.

See also Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation Procedure

8. Sexually Transmitted Infections

Also see Blood Borne Viruses (BBVs) Procedure

The young person should be referred to the local Genito-Urinary Medicine Clinic, who will provide advice, counselling, testing and other support.

Only those immediate carers of the child who need to know will be informed of any suspicion or the outcome of any tests and the strategies or measures to be adopted.

9. Masturbation

It is accepted that masturbation is part of normal sexual behaviour but children must be positively encouraged to undertake such activities in private and in a manner, which is not harmful to themselves or other people.

10. Peer Group Abuse

The following should be read in conjunction with the Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool and Lancashire Children's Safeguarding Assurance Partnership (CSAP).

The possibility of peer abuse should always be taken seriously. However, it is important not to label or stigmatise age appropriate sexual exploration and experimentation between children.

Sexual behaviour is not usually a cause for concern unless it is compulsive, coercive, age-inappropriate or between children of significantly different ages, maturity or mental abilities.

If at any time staff suspect children are engaged in abusive sexual relationships as perpetrators and/or victims, they must immediately inform the home’s manager, who must consult the relevant social worker(s) and make a referral under the Referring Safeguarding Concerns Procedures.

Consideration should be given by the home’s manager as to whether a Notifiable Event has occurred, see Notification of Serious Events Procedure.