Teens with Problematic Sexual Behaviors

Better lives,through better choices.

Some sexual behaviors are viewed as a normal part of growing up.

Characteristics of typical or normative sexual behaviors include that the behavior is spontaneous or intermittent, light hearted and playful, occurs between children or adolescents of similar age, size, and ability who may be the same and opposite genders, and typically decreases with caregiver guidance and supervision. Normative sexual behavior, does not cause discomfort, fear or shame and, is not coercive.

In contrast, problematic sexual behaviors by youth involve sexual body parts in a manner that are developmentally inappropriate and potentially harmful to themselves or others.

Problematic sexual behaviors include repetitive sexual behaviors involving oneself or others that may be frequent or excessive or include, sexual touching without permission, coercive or aggressive sexual contact, sexual contact with animals, transmissing sexual images via cell phone, the Internet, and other electronic media, and persistent viewing or focusing on developmentally inappropriate sexual media or pornography involving young children or violence. Sibling sexual experiences also occur and are perhaps less likely to be reported to caregivers or professionals.

What are some diagnostic considerations related to problematic sexual behavior?

  • Problematic sexual behavior” is not a diagnosable condition-these actions are clinically concerning behaviors

  • Problematic sexual behaviors involve breaking rules and violating other people’s physical boundaries, and thus, may represent behaviors consistent with other symptoms of disruptive behavior disorder(s), such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder, Disruptive Behavior Disorder, or Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)

  • At times, the problematic sexual behaviors represent an isolated or transitory problem of an adolescent or teen who is otherwise functioning well
    Sexual behaviors may be part of a pattern of activities or one of a number of symptoms of a disruptive behavior disorder

What situational factors are related to problematic sexual behaviors in adolescents and teens?

  • Normal surge of adolescent, teen onset sexual interest and impulses.

    • Lack of knowledge or misunderstandings about society’s rules regarding sexual behavior and not appreciating the wrongfulness of sexual misconduct
  • Insufficient adult monitoring

  • Exposure to sexual behavior through media or on the internet

  • Negative peer influences

  • Obstacles to age appropriate peer relationships, e.g., social isolation

  • Substance use

Some teens may have other difficulties, learning disabilities, intellectual disability, or developmental disabilities, such as autism, Asperger’s Syndrome or fetal alcohol syndrome, and have difficulties with decision making and impulse control. For these adolescents and teens, interpersonal problems may be similar to children with ADHD, including impulsively touching others’ private parts or violating physical boundaries.

What is the first step?

  • Deciding whether your teen exhibits problematic sexual behavior is the initial consideration
  • Are you worried about your youth’s sexual behaviors, such as masturbatory practices, pornography use, inappropriate nudity, “sexting,” or perceived promiscuity, behaviors that may not always be illegal?
  • Has your teen engaged in illegal sexual behavior with a willing partner close in age, yet one or both of them have not obtained the age of consent in your state?

Dr. Doré Frances has assisted families and their children, adolescents and teens for over 20 years with private pay referrals to the best treatment centers in the country. These teens need to be in a residential therapeutic treatment center that does not have a mixed population of other teens who are in treatment for other various reasons. Effective treatment planning requires an initial assessment to ensure safety and identify risk and protective factors, interventions needs, and treatment responsivity requirements.

60 to 90 day assessments are available at all of the private pay residential therapeuitic treatment centers supported by Dr. Doré Frances.

Interventions are most likely to be effective when individual and family treatment needs are matched with high quality services in a seamless and flexible continuum of care. Ongoing and timely reassessments are necessary to facilitate effective treatment plans over time.

For information about the residential therapeutic treatment support available for adolescents and teens with problematic sexual behaviors, please call Dr. Doré Frances at 720-446-0188.


As an advertising executive for more than 17 years, I know when I look at websites there was much effort and time spent on content and placement of what is being promised. When I contacted Dr. Frances, she was very open about her statement – ‘websites are like magazine ads and everyone puts their best foot forward. It is what is behind the ad that really matters.’ Dr. Frances really worked hard for our family as our situation was very difficult. The amount of energy she gave us, especially in the first 5 months was unmatchable to what we had experienced with previous assistance. She did everything we asked and more. She responded to late night and weekend calls when we were panicked. Dr. Frances showed us that she had her own personal belief in our son and his situation and what she ‘advertised’ was just a fraction of what she actually gave us in services. Our son is home now, and is successful, and we know why. Thank you Dr. Frances.”

David L., Son 17, Oregon, 2008