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Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) in Adolescents with Learning Disabilities (LD) and Whether There is a National Support Strategy in Place


For many decades, it has been notified that young people and adults with learning disabilities are likely to be engaged in harmful sexual behaviour. However, the existing literature has synthesised the findings from different perspectives and views to understand the scope of Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) amongst young adults that suffer from learning disabilities. Many medical scientists and theorists have emphasised exploring the rise of Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) in adolescents facing problems with learning and understanding situations.

Adolescence is the period under the development phase in which the abilities and capabilities of a person evolve or change with the change in their childhood phase to adulthood. However, several studies have been studied and mentioned in this report, which emphasised that Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) is relatively concerned with specific adult behaviors that come along with their development from childhood to adulthood phase. The transition from one phase to another carries a transition in behaviours as well, which shows a significant relationship between Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) and the mindfulness of an adult.

Several studies have been discussed in this report that showed that adults with learning difficulties are likely to be engaged in behaviours that cause sexual abduction and behaviours. Adults with learning disabilities are at much more significant risks of acquiring harmful sexual behaviours. These harmful sexual behaviours may occur due to various reasons, such as abuse and neglect and other wider behavioural problems related to their social situations.

Emotional and psychological breakdowns within adults have resulted in a lack of cognitive and metal stability amongst young children that cause them to indulge in harmful sexual behaviours. Adults with intellectual and learning disabilities are at higher risk of social disadvantage and adversity, increasing mental and emotional problems. Scholars are appeared to be emphasising the negative influences of these social or emotional problems on mental stability of young people that attributes to harmful sexual behaviours.

As per the career in counselling, the use of Person-centred approach for the counselling of young people with learning disabilities helps to engage the audience in an effective conversing process where an equal chance of conversation is granted to each conversing party, identifying and evaluating the concerns through active participation. This study is helpful to understand the transitions from childhood to adolescence and the changing behaviours of adults that come along with these transitions.

The evidence, findings, and analyses carried out in this study help determine whether or not the person-centred approach of counselling is helpful to understand the mental and emotional problems faced by the younger generation, aging from 16 to 18 years old. This report aims to view and discuss Harmful Sexual Behaviour within adults who suffer from learning disabilities while exploring the major reasons, causes, and effects of these behaviours on young adults’ social, emotional, and intellectual well-being.

Main Body

Harmful Sexual Behaviour

The existing literature on harmful sexual abuse amongst adolescents has been the major focus of scholars for the past few decades (Hackett, Holmes & Branigan, 2016). However, it is important to understand the basic concept of sexual behaviours that are harmful to adults. Hollis, Belton & Team (2017) has described that harmful sexual behaviours are the activities in which, adults are engaged in several sexually harmful activities where, adults speak sexually abusive words and phrases, use sexually explicit touching other adults or children or use sex as a threat or violence. Sometimes, authors have been suggesting that full penetrative sex has also been sexually harmful behaviours of adults.

The definition of sexually harmful behaviours of adults shows that these behaviours are so common within adults that most of the past researchers were encouraged to contribute, exploring how these behaviours affect the mental health of adults, from their childhood to adolescence.

With the rise of these sexual misbehaviours in societies, there have been increased numbers of interest groups responsible for developing legislation and assessment policies and tools to prevent sexual behaviours amongst adults and young people. These legislations and assessment policies resulted in AIM Assessment Model.

This model was established to identify the difficulties and problems in sexual behaviours of adults (Myers, 2007). Consistent with the study, it has been identified that the model of assessment has been used to understand the sexually harmful behaviours of adults while managing risks and leave professionals powerless to devise planning and stop adults from these behaviours.

Some of the major issues and factors that have been identified because of the AIM Assessment Model are dysfunctional families and domestic violence in houses, mental and behavioural disorders. As per this model, harmful sexual behaviours include behaviours such as excessive bullying, fighting, animal abuse, stealing, property destruction, and sexual assaults. Therefore, it can be said that different scholars in different periods have explained harmful sexual behaviours in different contexts.

Moreover, the study of Hackett et al. (2013) also explained that harmful sexual behaviours had been studied for decades and these behaviours are common all across the social strata irrespective of any culture, tradition, religion, or race. However, major emphasis has always been on youngsters and adults. Scholars have suggested that there is a rise of such behaviours amongst adults because of their transitional age and the change in their characteristics.

The findings consistent with this study explained that most of the adults that are engaged in such behaviours are likely to have learning disabilities which cause them to conduct such harmful actions. The studies also explored that if the younger adults have a prior abusive history may also experience harmful sexual behaviours in their adult life.

Adolescents with Learning Disability

According to Vizard, Hickey & McCrory (2007), learning disabilities appear to be common in younger children and more often in adults who display Harmful Sexual Behaviour. Adults with learning and educational disabilities have been witnessed in terms of sexual aggression and sexual offending. Adults are more likely to be engaged in sexual behaviours. However, most of the researches asserted that those adults who suffer from educational and learning disabilities are considered to be a victim of sexual behaviours.

Authors explained the major reasons that caused a higher rate of harmful sexual behaviour in adults is because of the facts that those adults might be open to factors such as traumatic experiences in the past, negligence from family or friends which resulted in cease of mental development of adults (Dukes & McGuire, 2009).

Studies have suggested that when children evolve from its childhood to adolescence, this period is considered crucial for the mental stability development of the brain. When young people have experienced any traumatic experience in the past and caused a severe effect on the mental development of children, this has negatively influenced the development phases of adults and causes them to engage in sexual behaviours. This implies that the major reason that causes the indulgence of adults in harmful sexual behaviours is any bad experience in the past that has allowed them to incorporate bad things in their daily routine Almond & Giles (2008).

Another study suggested several incidents where certain behaviours are not considered as problematic as they are in general; however, they arise due to a lack of personal or social space for adults and poor social abilities. These behaviours may include self-exploitation and masturbation, allowing adults to engage in self-sexual abuse (Dukes & McGuire, 2009). Hence, these behaviours may restrict them from developing their mental stamina and capabilities to develop sexual maturity within them and cause learning disabilities.

However, studies explained that there are several incidents when learning disabilities are the major factor that causes harmful sexual behaviours amongst adults. The empirical study of Almond & Giles (2008) revealed that the probability and incidents of harmful sexual behaviours are more significant in the context of learning disabled adults than normal adults. This implies that the rate of sexual behaviours is high in adults suffering from learning disabilities. They lose the sense between wrong and right while establishing the connection in things that are legally or morally wrong.

Studies have also concluded that there are shreds of evidence that the adults are more likely to suffer from learning disabilities that have displayed a wide range of emotional, social, or behavioural difficulties that enabled them to experience harmful sexual behaviours. On the other hand, these behaviors have been victimising younger children, boys, and girls that cause anxiety, depression, and traumatic experiences (Dukes & McGuire, 2009).

This exiting literature explored that not only sexual behaviours, but these adults have also been suffering from psychological breakdowns. The empirical evidence explored that the probability of the occurrences of learning disabilities within young males and females are equal. However, the rate of sexual behaviours in males is significantly higher as compared to females.

Similarly, another study demonstrated that females are most likely to become the victim of these sexual behaviours, while vagina penetration has been one of the foremost harmful sexual abuses experienced by the majority of women. Consistent with the study, it has been identified that practitioners and experts should use effective assessment measures to increase the learning capabilities of adults by judging their family dynamics and prior historical and traumatic experiences.

Adults with learning disabilities are likely to be engaged in adverse situations where young boys and girls fail to recognise the consequences of such harmful behaviours. The disabilities in learning activities amongst adults are likely to experience little adversity in their social and emotional lives, lack of precognitive and control over aggression, sexualisation in pre-adult ages, and other traumatic experiences that have been affecting their mental stability as well (Vizard, Hickey & McCrory, 2007). this implies that whenever adults with weak cognition and learning capabilities experience the bad influences, their brains respond in negative manners, which cause them to engage in sexual activities, causing mental sickness to themselves and victims of sexual assaults.

Harmful Sexual Behaviour in Adolescents

Existing studies indicated that harmful sexual behaviours are more common in adults than any other age group because of various types of factors. For instance, early adolescence or puberty is when a person experiences changes in physical and emotional development, which is the major driver of sexual growth (Allardyce, Wylie & Ritchie, n.d.). However, early adolescence is when the sexual identity of children is under the development phase as per the social and emotional intimacy with the opposite gender.

However, in this development phase, adults are likely to be engaged in several activities that show that the human brain faces a transition in its emotional and sexual levels. Any negative influence on the lifestyle or social identity of the children during this transition severely affects the mental and emotional stability of the adult.

During the transition, adults are more intended to engage in sexual activities or watching porn, downloading inappropriate sexual pictures that arouse their feelings of having physical penetrations, masturbation and do whatever they can in order to get their sexual needs to be satisfied. These major behaviors can be categorised as non-contact sexual behaviours (Hackett et al., 2013). This implies that during this emotional and physical transitions of children, the sexual drivers of human are likely uncontrollable which impact their sexual choices.

On the other hand, these studies also implicated that the absence of consequential thinking, rules breaking, and satisfying sexual needs are the foremost choices of adults. Consistent with these studies, it has been identified that learning disabilities and lack of consequential thinking of adults are the major factors causing the development phases to be diverted towards harmful sexual behaviours in adults (Myers, 2007).

In adults, harmful sexual behaviours can be distinguished between contact and non-contact behaviour. The contact sexual behaviours include sexual intimacy with the opposite genders, sexual assaults, and rape (Fyson, 2007). The studies and empirical evidence explored that these types of sexual behaviours are likely to pose catastrophic impact on victims’ mental and psychological health. Similarly, not only personal health but these contact-based sexual behaviours have been affecting the mental and emotional health of families of victims.

Consistent with studies, it has further been mentioned that harmful sexual behaviours have been significantly affecting the legislative systems of countries such as the UK and USA, where these impacts and a variety of intervention and assessment programs have been initiated to eliminate the causes and harms to adults as well as their families (Myers, 2007).

However, as per the significant findings, it can be evaluated that the effects of these harmful sexual behaviours, whether based on non-contact or contact-based, can be responded to ineffective means. With the help of therapeutic services, assessment, and interventions, the extent of such abuses can be lowered to a significant amount, not only for victims but also for offenders.

With the increase of harmful sexual behaviours in adults, the government of the UK and many other developed countries have increased their concerns and recognition towards preventable measures to lower the degree of such abuses. However, experts and practitioners have made fewer studies and focused on the services that could eliminate the emergences and causes of sexual behaviours amongst adults (Allardyce, Wylie & Ritchie, n.d.).

For most of the studies, it has been explored that there is a large number of evidence that indicated that adults experiencing harmful and inappropriate sexual behaviours are likely to continue their inappropriate behaviours before their adolescence period that has not to be diagnosed by their families or friends (Myers, 2007). Studies and evidence have been mentioned and evaluated, which showed that there are several cases in which adults had displayed the symptoms of harmful sexual behaviours in their childhood which were progress with the continuation of the evolution of their mental or physical health.

The transition from childhood to adolescence progressively increased their harmful sexual behaviours that go unnoticed or improperly assessed (Fyson, 2007). For pre-pubescent children, studies indicated that the extent to which dangerous sexual abuse has been majorly present are the children where their families have been affected by domestic violence. This shows that harmful sexual behaviours are most common in cases where young children have experienced traumatic experiences in their families and houses in which their fathers have been sexually victimisation their mothers.

This further explains that when young children see symptoms of sexual abuse in their homes, they establish that the only reason to get out of the traumatic experience is to indulge in such harmful sexual activities and behaviours (Allardyce, Wylie & Ritchie, n.d.). Although those behaviours have been causing significant effects on the mental health of families, communities, and their selves, still during the transitions, the harmful sexual behaviours provide satisfaction and pleasures to their sexual arousals.

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Harmful Sexual Behaviour, a Recognised Disorder in the DSMs

Regarding the nomenclature of mental disorders, studies have explained that in most cases, sexual activities and abuses are considered not as crimes but as mental disorders (Fyson, 2007). The constant development in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has encouraged professionals to understand the major causes of mental disorders.

DSM developments have categorized individuals’ different activities and considered them mental or psychological disorders (Aragona, 2009). Under DSM-V, harmful sexual behaviours are viewed as a mental and psychological disorder in which young adults ruin their personal lives and lose their abilities to control their sexual behaviours and impulses, causing them to engage in immoral and sexually abusive activities (Kafka, 2010).

However, the declaration of these harmful sexual behaviours as mental disorders is likely to be called a disorder based on various factors and criteria. In most cases and studies, these mental and psychological vents have resulted in hypersexual impulsivity, which influences adults to indulge in the mental disorder of compelling the opposite gender to be sexually abused (Kraus et al., 2016).

This indicates that a mental disorder is harmful sexual behavior that influences adults to engage in abusive activities and victimise others to get sexual pleasure and satisfaction.

The studies conducted by Aragona (2009) analysed different sets of people in which different samples were analysed and analyses based on other factors that signified harmful sexual behaviours to be the mental disorder. Studies indicated that HSB can be declared as a mental disorder and cause impairments to the physical or mental health of adults until the fifth decade of life that is affected due to long-term sexual abuse between families and disrupted emotional state of young brains that have been experiencing a transition from childhood to adolescence (Kraus et al., 2016).

This implicates that hyper-sexuality is considered as a mental disorder in which the patients or victims use sexually abusive activities and harmful sexual behaviours to be activities as a way of coping with mental stress which can be aroused through domestic violence, emotional and social negligence or any other activity that affected the mental stability of young adults.

In the context of DSM, harmful sexual behaviours of adults are considered as an activity in which people experience unsuccessful attempts to control their sexual wishes and desires, which are then fulfilled through stressful events. However, there have been several studies that declared that hyper-sexuality is not a mental disorder, but it is more of the physical fascination that an adult carries out to cope with stressful conditions (Aragona, 2009).

This implies that when adults experience any traumatic condition in his/her pre-adolescence experiences, the individual reduces the learning capabilities to distinguish between the pros and cons of the activities which temporarily give pleasure to them; however, they are unable to evaluate the severity of the consequences of such activities. In DSM-V, the diagnosis of hypersexual disorder is carried out by assessing the harmful sexual behaviour amongst adults by evaluating their consistency up to 6 months (Kraus et al., 2016).

Learning Disabilities

Learning disability, as defined by The Department of Health, is the significant presence of decreased ability due to which a person becomes unable to comprehend complex information or learn new skills; this is also known as impaired intelligence where the person faces difficulty in coping with any situation independently (Vizard, Hickey & McCrory, 2007).

Historically, the term LD has been used by health services as Learning Disabilities, whereas other service providers in education have called it learning difficulties (Emerson & Baine, 2011). A number of researches have been conducted on the notion of learning disability; however, there has been a lack of literature in identifying the appropriate definition of learning disability. Nevertheless, many empirical types of research have also identified that these issues mostly occur in children before their adulthood.

According to the study conducted by Cortiella & Horowitz (2014), LD has been overly represented amongst young people due to the pertaining factors such as the impact of trauma, testing problems, and the effect of neglect amongst young people. On the other hand, Norms (2016) has argued that young people with a learning disability often have their behaviour identified because of the high level of observation and scrutiny experienced by them.

Young children might also be under scrutiny because of certain behaviours which are not considered as problematic amongst the general population but are regarded as important amongst psychologists and other pioneers in the field who might also believe that learning disability is a part of the cognitive process of a child which stays for a longer period of time.

The advent of the research agenda has brought many changes in the notion of the factors associated with learning disabilities in children. The ongoing debate has also been associated with calling LD a biological, neurological, or psychological issue. According to the empirical analysis conducted by Vizard, Hickey & McCrory (2007) showed that the pertaining factors of LD had been limited social networks, private space’s absence, and poor social skills.

However, others, such as Cortiella & Horowitz (2014), have argued that being a psychological disorder, LD has been associated with non-problematic sexual expressions. These problems have been exacerbated by the caregivers of young persons who might consider the issue as the lack of perceived development at the chronological age.

The study conducted by Young‐Southward, Philo & Cooper (2017) showed that many of the issues which are associated with the LD in young children are hidden disabilities due to the lower level of visual or behavioural indicators. This might also be because a large number of young people with LD do not prefer being self-identified about this issue.

Social Media and its Consequences on Young People’s Knowledge

The advent of the internet and social media has brought a number of consequences for young children. There has been a number of researches conducted on how early adolescence and puberty have brought an emotional and physical change in the growth and development of young children. The study conducted by Allardyce, Wylie & Ritchie (2007) showed that sexual knowledge amongst children is found to be partial and have been gathered from various different sources such as books, TV, peers and internet.

However, Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein (2010) stated that partial sexual knowledge could lead to wrong judgments amongst children. Young people who find new crushes or fall in love, or are at the start of dating may find as preoccupied in such instances.

Allardyce, Wylie & Ritchie (2007) provided that this can be the period of sexual experimentation that can even go wrong amongst individuals. However, Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein (2010) argued that sensation seeking, lack of momentous thinking, and rule-breaking are three common factors affected by the knowledge provided on the internet and hence affect the sexual choices in young people. Researchers have also linked the sexual knowledge provided on the internet with young people with learning disabilities.

However, most of the recent researches has also included the prospect of social media. Moreover, the study conducted by Ashurst & McAlinden (2015) revealed that young people with a learning disability might be affected by the development delay. There may be significant factors related to the internet that can impact their relational, sexual, social development. It has been identified in many researches as an online harmful sexual behaviour which can have many forms.

The study was undertaken by Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein (2010) showed that the harmful online sexual behaviour has taken many forms; earlier it has been associated with revenge porn and coercive sexting and later it took a shape of abuse through broadcasting of intimate material.

However, harmful online sexual behaviour in young children can be purported by images of abuse, especially child abuse on the internet. It has been identified in the study of Ashurst & McAlinden (2015) that it is considered highly difficult to quantify the proportion on which adolescents are inclined towards sexual abuse because it has largely appeared online.

In this way, the interaction on social media might also lead towards the sexual behaviour amongst adolescents where interactions might lead towards sexual tension amongst young people Fox and Bale (2017). However, there has not been any evidence available on how social interactions through social media can lead to harmful sexual behaviour.

The study conducted by Allardyce, Wylie & Ritchie (2007) showed that online pornography and access to such images and videos could be considered as the factor which has triggered harmful sexual behaviour in adolescents. It has also been shown in the study of Strasburger, Jordan & Donnerstein (2010) that many adolescents who have recorded the harmful sexual behaviour have also experienced pornography. The early exposure of such videos and images has become the risk factor amongst adolescents.

The various studies have identified the difference between the traditional and contemporary use of the internet; where Ashurst & McAlinden (2015) provided the traditional view of internet when the access to pornography has not been simple, on the other hand, Fox and Bale (2017) provided that the contemporary means of the internet have brought various means such as proxies through adults and even young people now have easy access to internet.

Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) in Adolescents with Learning Disabilities (LD)

Harmful sexual behaviour has become a major concern for various psychologists due to the fact that it has been pertaining in adolescents on a higher level. According to the empirical analysis conducted by Myers (2007) sex offenders have often found having certain learning disabilities. The study has further revealed that one–third of the adolescents have been showing harmful sexual behaviour and also have LD.

Because the concern has become more evident, various researches have also questioned different learning disabilities related to educational issues. However, Wylie & Griffin (2013) stated that offending could not be considered as common amongst people who have learning disabilities; it has been because harmful sexual behaviour has been regarded as disproportionally present. Therefore, it has been considered an uncommonly reported offence in numerous studies.

On the contrary, it has been argued by Almond (2014) that not only LD but also antisocial and non-sexual offence can be considered as pertinent behaviour in young people. The researches have also found that these factors have been evident in young people who have shown harmful sexual conduct.

However, it has been argued by Lambie & Price (2015) that there can be the exception of arson which has not been seen in the case of adolescents with learning disabilities who are also associated with harmful sexual behaviour. Prior studies have been conducted on adult sexual offenders with learning disabilities, such as the study conducted by Tracey & Hanham (2017) showed that most adults with learning disabilities had been engaged in harmful sexual behaviour. However, contemporary studies have mostly been conducted on the notion of harmful sexual behaviour amongst adolescents.

According to the study conducted by Myers (2007), most of the young people who have shown sexually harmful behaviour have been males. The study has further revealed that a wide range of harmful sexual behaviour has been clinical amongst adolescents. On the other hand, the study conducted by Wylie & Griffin (2013) reported that the inventory of clinical sexual behaviour amongst children aged between 14 had been related to the curiosity for getting information about sex.

Many other researchers have also pointed out that young people with learning disabilities are often found curious to know about sexual orientation; however, the lack of learning has led towards the harmful sexual behaviour. Traditional studies have been conducted which blamed education systems for changing young people’s behaviour. However, contemporary researchers have also pointed other cognitive features which can affect the child’s learning process and create harmful sexual behaviour.

One of the contributions made by Almond (2014) stated that the issue of educational systems must be resolved to deal with the children who have been suffering from learning disabilities. However, on the other hand, the study conducted by Lambie & Price (2015) showed that the young people who have indicated harmful sexual behaviour have also indicated a lack of self-esteem, loneliness, and a poor self-image amongst other people.
The Child’s Sexual Behaviour Inventory has further opined that it is difficult for younger people to understand this behaviour clinically since there have been various norms associated with young people’s difficulty (Tracey & Hanham, 2017).

On the other hand, it can be opined that harmful sexual behaviour can easily be detected in early childhood due to the close association of a child with a family. However, the study conducted by Myers (2007) showed that harmful sexual behaviour amongst young people with a learning disability had been associated with their curiosity of knowing other people’s as well as their own bodies.

Studies have also pointed to the notion of harmful sexual behaviour as the one that displays problematic sexual behavior hath cannot be considered developmentally normal. With respect to this, the study conducted by Wylie & Griffin (2013) stated that there must be a number of therapeutic interventions which can identify if there has been a drop in sexual behaviour of people. Therefore, it might also imply that harmful sexual behaviour in young people with learning disabilities has been different with reference to the nature of their behaviour ; development, legal status, and histories.

The study conducted by Almond (2014) showed that there had been incidents of sexual victimization of children with learning disabilities which can be resulted in the triggering of harmful sexual behaviour when they grow up. It has also been provided in the study that child abuse can be considered as the way purporting harmful sexual behaviour.

However, it has been argued by Lambie & Price (2015) that sexual abuse in early childhood cannot be considered as the only factor in initiating harmful sexual behaviour rather, there have been other major factors associated with development, social, economic, and familial factors such as violence, neglect, physical abuse, poor parenting and the exposure to and presence of sexually explicit media. With respect to this, the young people with learning disabilities get more affected by these factors and hence show problematic and harmful sexual behaviour.

Some empirical researches have been conducted on cases which had involved young people provided that the children in their early ages must be dealt in order to counter sexual harmful behaviour in adolescents. The study conducted by Wylie & Griffin (2013) showed that the effective demonstration of young children with LD could target harmful sexual behaviour. However, there must be a mechanism available that can deal with the unresolved experiences of young people with LD.

These might include victims of abuse as well as can be given a broader concern to the wider influences being associated with child’s family. Another study conducted by Tracey & Hanham (2017) professed that young people with LD have been considered as highly heterogeneous who also have diverse backgrounds, age, and motivations; these changes also bring changes in their behaviour and targeted victims. Therefore, various studies have revealed that there have been a large number of young people who have been engaged in harmful sexual behaviour.

The studies that revealed that most males had been associated with harmful sexual behaviour have also shown other perspectives. The research conducted by Almond (2014) showed that young boys are more inclined towards externalisation of their trauma which has been resulted in the high level aggression amongst others.

On the other hand, the study has further revealed that females have been more inclined towards internalisation of their feelings through self-harm. Therefore, harmful sexual behaviour in young males and females with learning disabilities might differ however with the factors remained the same.

Current Specialist Support in UK

According to the study conducted by Vizard et al. (2007), there has been a higher recognition given to young people in the UK in order to assess their harmful sexual behaviour. However, the normative paradigm has been lying in the developmental parameters under which young people are harmful and abusive to others.

On the other hand, it has been indicated in the study of Bunting, Anderson & Allnock (2009) that approximately one-third of the young people have been engaged in child sexual abuse. Therefore, a number of studies have shown the trajectory of procedures, practices, policies, and their effectiveness. Smith et al. (2014) stated that policies and procedures related to harmful sexual behaviour had been emerging for the past 20 years. It has also been reflected through the Journal of Sexual Aggression which has demonstrated the continuous concerns and causes related to harmful sexual behaviour amongst young people.

By 2012, Hackett, Holmes & Branigan (2016) identified that youth justice and local child protection guidance and procedures became evidence which had mapped out key messages to the policymakers for bringing variations in procedures especially in England. The researches have also shown that the policies and procedures in UK have been verified on the basis of quality and depth of the information as well as specific requirements.

It has been identified in the research of Bunting, Anderson & Allnock (2009) that policy-based requirements to achieve the support for young people with LD have been associated with the inter-agency agreements. In 2013, there was a removal of various references from the guidance known as Working Together. Myles-Wright & Nee (2017) stated that this policyhads brought unlikely consistence in the specialist support.

According to the study conducted by Bunting, Anderson & Allnock (2009) the policy and procedures in UK and USA are different where the notion of diversity has been pertaining in UK, USA has been pertinent with the policy of complexity in its specialist support.

For instance, there have been various researches which have shown that there has been a robust frameworks present for the specialist assessment; however, Smith et al. (2014) argued, in terms of outcomes, the improved results have not been achieved. There has also been the inconsistent use of specialist support by agencies where in practice it has not been supported sufficiently and rigorously.

Nevertheless, it has been further identified by Hackett, Holmes & Branigan (2016) that as the minimum, there have been specific requirements available for young children with LD as well as the ones who have been considered as black minority. There have been several attempts made on the notion that there must be coherence, availability of support, and fairness in the procedures while dealing with young people who have been engaged in harmful sexual behaviour.

However, Myles-Wright & Nee (2017) provided that there must be a structure provided which can show that the vulnerable and troubled position of the young people with learning disabilities.

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The findings of the literature review have provided a comprehensive description of the research available on harmful sexual behaviour amongst young people with learning difficulties. The literature has been summarised in a way that has also identified the gap that existed. It has given the description on learning disabilities and harmful sexual behaviour.

However, the gap has been identified in the literature related to LD that there has not been a comprehensive definition available on the notion of learning disability except the one provided by the Department of Health. It has been identified that the internet and the use of social media have been the reasons for harmful sexual behaviour amongst young children. However, the gap has been identified in the use of social media being the factor of purporting harmful sexual behaviour amongst young people with learning difficulties.

The research gap also showed that there had been the requirement of a significant amount of research being conducted on young people with LD in order to connect the issue with the issue of harmful sexual behaviour.  The comprehensive literature review has also connected the literature with the area of the study. It has demonstrated the harmful sexual behaviour in young people with disabilities by the inclusion of various factors.

However, there have been contradicting views related to the factors such as few studies have shown that educational system can be the issue for having young people engaged in the harmful sexual behaviour whereas some studies have shown that the lack of self-esteem, poor self-image, family neglect, and low-level confidence are the factors which can create a harmful sexual behaviour in young people.

Therefore, the literature review will enable the reader to have a better understanding of the prospects associated with both learning disabilities and harmful sexual behaviour.


Allardyce, S., Wylie, N., & Ritchie, B (2007). Preventing Adolescent Harmful Sexual Behaviour: A NOTA Think Piece.

Allardyce, S., Wylie, N., & Ritchie, B. Preventing Adolescent Harmful Sexual Behaviour: A NOTA Think Piece.

Almond, L., & Giles, S. (2008). Young people with harmful sexual behaviour: Do those with learning disabilities form a distinct subgroup?. Journal of sexual aggression, 14(3), 227-239.

Almond, T. J. (2014). Working with children and young people with harmful sexual behaviours: exploring the impact on practitioners and sources of support. Journal of sexual aggression, 20(3), 333-353.

Aragona, M. (2009). The concept of mental disorder and the DSM-V.

Ashurst, L., & McAlinden, A. M. (2015). Young people, peer-to-peer grooming and sexual offending: Understanding and responding to harmful sexual behaviour within a social media society. Probation Journal, 62(4), 374-388.

Bunting, L., Anderson, P., & Allnock, D. (2009). Sexual abuse and therapeutic services for children and young people in Northern Ireland.

Cortiella, C., & Horowitz, S. H. (2014). The state of learning disabilities: Facts, trends and emerging issues. New York: National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2-45.

Dukes, E., & McGuire, B. E. (2009). Enhancing capacity to make sexuality‐related decisions in people with an intellectual disability. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 53(8), 727-734.

Emerson, E., & Baines, S. (2011). Health inequalities and people with learning disabilities in the UK. Tizard Learning Disability Review, 16(1), 42-48.

Fox, N.J. and Bale, C., 2017. Bodies, pornography and the circumscription of sexuality: A new materialist study of young people’s sexual practices. Sexualities, p.1363460717699769.

Fyson, R. (2007). Young people with learning disabilities who sexually abuse: Understanding, identifying and responding from within generic education and welfare services.

Hackett, S., Carpenter, J., Patsios, D., & Szilassy, E. (2013). Interprofessional and interagency training for working with young people with harmful sexual behaviours: An evaluation of outcomes. Journal of sexual aggression, 19(3), 329-344.

Hackett, S., Holmes, D., & Branigan, P. (2016). Harmful sexual behaviour framework: an evidence-informed operational framework for children and young people displaying harmful sexual behaviours.

Hackett, S., Holmes, D., & Branigan, P. (2016). Operational framework for children and young people displaying harmful sexual behaviours.

Hackett, S., Phillips, J., Masson, H., & Balfe, M. (2013). Individual, family, and abuse characteristics of 700 British child and adolescent sexual abusers. Child Abuse Review, 22(4), 232-245.


Kafka, M. P. (2010). Hypersexual disorder: A proposed diagnosis for DSM-V. Archives of sexual behavior, 39(2), 377-400.

Kraus, S. W., Voon, V., Kor, A., & Potenza, M. N. (2016). Searching for clarity in muddy water: future considerations for classifying compulsive sexual behavior as an addiction. Addiction, 111(12), 2113-2114.

Lambie, I., & Price, M. (2015). Transitioning youth with sexually harmful behaviour back into the community. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 21(2), 244-265.

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Topic: Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) in adolescents with Learning Disabilities (LD) and whether there is a national support strategy in place

Themes Source A Source B Source C Comments
Theme 1

Harmful Sexual Behaviour

Hackett, Carpenter, Patsios & Szilassy (2013). Hackett, Holmes & Branigan (2016). Hollis, Belton & Team (2017). The main idea behind this theme was to identify the findings available on Harmful Sexual Behaviour
Theme 2

Learning Disabilities

Vizard, Hickey & McCrory (2007) The main aim for conducting this theme was to identify the literature available on LD as well as the gap existed in LR
Theme 3

Adolescents with Learning Disability

Almond & Giles (2008). The theme is established to include major findings and literature related to Adolescents with Learning Disability to address the research questions
Theme 4

Harmful Sexual Behaviour in Adolescents

Myers (2007) Fyson (2007). The aim of this theme has been to determine HSB in adolescents
Theme 5

Harmful Sexual Behaviour, a recognized disorder in the DSMs

Aragona (2009). Kafka (2010). The aim of the theme was to identification of HSB in the context of DSM and to evaluate whether HSB is considered as a mental disorder or not
Theme 6

Social Media and its Consequences on Young People’s Knowledge

Allardyce, Wylie & Ritchie (2007) Ashurst & McAlinden (2015) The main behind conducting this theme has been to demonstrated the effect of internet, social media and pornography on harmful sexual behaviour of young people with LD
Theme 7

Harmful Sexual Behaviour (HSB) in Adolescents with Learning Disabilities (LD

Myers (2007) The main aim behind this theme has been to identify demonstrate the relationship between HSB and LD as well as finding factors associated with the theme
Theme 8

Current Specialist Support in UK

Vizard et al. (2007). Hackett, Holmes & Branigan (2016) The aim of this theme has been to determine the available sources on policies and procedures in UK related to HSB in young people with LD

Frequently Asked Questions

To write an undergraduate level literature review:

  1. Define the research scope.
  2. Search and select relevant sources.
  3. Summarize and synthesize key findings.
  4. Organise by themes or trends.
  5. Provide critical analysis.
  6. Conclude by highlighting gaps and significance.