The STOP Children’s Service is aimed at helping primary and intermediate aged children who have engaged in concerning sexualised behaviour. The service is aimed at helping these children and their parents/caregivers and schools to gain the understanding, knowledge and relevant skills to prevent further concerning sexualised behaviour from occurring.
The service is designed to provide effective intervention suitable for this age group, identify the factors which have led to the concerning sexualised behaviour occuring and provide an intervention to address these factors.
While each child referred is managed on the basis of the unique circumstances involved, the general outline of the STOP Children’s Service integrates the following components:
Phase 1: Assessment (8 weeks)
- Clinical Assessment: Meetings with Children’s Service clinicians, the child, their parents/caregivers/whanau, both at STOP and a home visit
- Assessing the social context including school visits
- Liaison with other professionals working with the child. This assists with identification of the necessary resources for the child and family to ensure the safety of the child and others.
- Relevant questionnaires and psychometric assessments are completed by the parents/caregivers and the child, where appropriate.
- An assessment report is written which provides an understanding of the factors leading to the concerning sexualised behaviour in the context of a holistic view of the child and family. The assessment report makes recommendations regarding suitability for the intervention phase of the service and consideration of how other unmet needs for the child may be met. This report is discussed with the child and their parents/caregivers/whanau and provided to referral agents at the completion of the Assessment phase.
What happens after Assessment?
For some families, assessment is all that is required, which includes a basic intervention based around education, boundaries and safety. For others a short to medium term therapeutic intervention, that will specifically meet the needs of each child, is recommended.
Phase 2: Intervention
- To help children to stop their concerning sexualised behaviour.
- To assist children to understand what is OK and not OK sexual behaviour.
- To assist children to understand and take responsibility for their concerning sexualised behaviour.
- To help children understand the thoughts and feelings they had prior to engaging in concerning sexualised behaviour.
- To help children understand the impact of their concerning sexualised behaviour and how they may have affected others.
- To assist children to make safe choices for the future.
- To consider the needs of children in relation to harm which they may have experienced and provide intervention regarding this where appropriate.
Consists of the following components:
Individual therapy will most likely be effective when:
- Ongoing support of the child is provided by a primary parent figure
- A sense of safety has been or is being established for the child to protect against future victimization
- The therapy with the child is occurring concurrently with therapy that is creating systems change and a safe parent or caregiver is having regular contact with the clinician in family therapy
- The clinician is skilful, goal-orientated, conceptually clear, and willing to be directive in a supportive manner
- The child is able to communicate regarding the concerning sexualised behaviour and can tolerate the intensity of the therapy process
- Is child focused using playful approaches that enable the child to have a voice about matters than concern them
- Aims to establish safe and clear boundaries that encourage the development of honesty and responsibility in the family system
- Involves a systematic view that includes all members of the child’s system of concern e.g. absent parents
- Supports the other therapeutic work that the child has engaged in where the flow of information is carefully and appropriately managed with due regard to confidentiality and the limits of this
- Builds on the strengths and resources of the child and family
- Attends to the cognitive ability of the child and to the verbal and non-verbal language of the child
- Aims to facilitate conversations that assist in the negotiation of family relationships that continue in the child’s world outside of therapy
Phase 3: Closure
- Reviewing and celebrating what has been learnt and the new choices
- Final meeting with the school
- Completion session with the child and family
Phase 4: Follow-up
- Follow up session offered 3 months post closure. Additional booster sessions held/offered on an agreed basis with family/whanau and school