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Services for Teens Engaging in Problem Sexual Behaviour (STEPS-B)

In the USA Multisystemic Therapy (MST) has been supporting families for the last 25 years with young people who are considered as being ‘high risk’ of out-of-home placements, such as foster care and custody.

Recently MST has been specifically adapted for young people who have problem sexual behaviour, which is called Multisystemic Therapy for Problem Sexual Behaviours (MST-PSB).

Although the results are very promising, the effectiveness of MST-PSB has not yet been investigated in the UK.

MST is a way of helping young people and their families when the young person is getting into trouble and are at risk of out of home placements, such as custody or foster care. It is an intensive support service, working with the young person and the young person’s family, education services and community for 5-7 months.

Research outside of the UK has shown that young people who received MST-PSB were less likely to engage in problem sexual behaviour, to be rearrested for both sexual and nonsexual offences and spend less time in and out of home placements and confined facilities, in comparison to young people who received other community services (management as usual).

With adolescents accounting for about 20% of all sexual offences and the promising results that MST-PSB has shown outside the UK, the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Youth Justice Board are supporting the STEPS-B research project to see whether these same promising results can be found in the UK.