Sexual Behavior in Youth: What’s Normal? What’s Not? And What Can We Do About It?, with Jane Silovsky

Season 3Episode 15November 5, 2021

What’s normal sexual behavior in youth, and how do we identify, treat, and prevent problematic behaviors?

When we first met Dr. Jane Silovsky years ago, talking about youth with problematic sexual behaviors, it was a pervasive myth in the Children’s Advocacy Center world that CACs could not serve these kids. Somehow they weren’t our kids, somehow they weren’t deserving of help, or somehow they just weren’t ours to serve. But 25% to 30% of our cases each year involve sexually abusing or acting out on other kids. To make any difference at all in that work, we have to serve these kids. This is meaningful prevention work.

In today’s conversation, we explore what’s normal sexual behavior in youth—a tough question for any parent or any colleague. How do we identify and stop problematic sexual behaviors? What treatment actually works? How do we involve families in their own healing and success? And how do we get beyond billboards and bus kiosks to doing the kind of prevention work that actually matters?

Topics in this episode:

  • What is problematic sexual behavior?
  • What causes it?
  • Myths about problematic sexual behavior
  • The importance of caregivers
  • Demographics & treatment
  • Public policy and CAC advice
  • Put on your oxygen mask first
  • Available resources
  • Learn more


Jane Silovsky, Ph.D., is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. She serves as the CMRI/Jean Gumerson Endowed Chair, director of the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, and director of the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth

Barbara L. Bonner, Ph.D.

20-25% of cases at CACs involve a child hurting another child

David Finkelhor, Ph.D.

Resources for parents from the National Center on the Sexual Behavior of Youth

Elizabeth J. Letourneau, Ph.D.

Military Learning Family Network webinar series is publicly available

NCA’s resources on problematic sexual behavior in youth

For more information about National Children’s Alliance and the work of Children’s Advocacy Centers, visit our website at And join us on Facebook at One in Ten podcast.

Transcript to come.