• Help & Advice
  • Find a Service
    Close icon

Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool

A guide to identify, understand and respond to sexual behaviours in children and young people.

This course is CPD certified

About the Traffic Light Tool

The tool categorises sexual behaviours into green, orange and red light categories and gives examples for different age groups. This helps you to make consistent and informed decisions and have meaningful conversations about appropriate sexual behaviours.

The tool helps you understand appropriate behaviours for different age groups but it is also important to take into account the developmental age and ability level of the child or young person (and others involved) as well as the location, frequency and nature of the behaviour.

Our Traffic Light Tool supports you to

  • Identify behaviour and establish if sexual behaviour is typical or developmentally appropriate, problematic or harmful.  
  • Understand what that behaviour is communicating and why the child or young person may be exhibiting the behaviour.  
  • Respond appropriately, considering how the type of response will depend on what’s motivating the behaviour, what the behaviour is communicating and the severity of the behaviour. 

What do the colours of the traffic light mean?

Sexual behaviours for each age group can be categorised as a green, orange or red light. The Tool will help you identify whether behaviours such as kissing, touching genitals, masturbating, lifting another child’s skirt, drawing sexually explicit artwork are a cause for concern and what you can do.

Green light sexual behaviours are typical and developmentally appropriate.

They are:

  • Spontaneous, curious, light-hearted, easily diverted, enjoyable, mutual and consensual
  • Appropriate to the child’s age and development
  • Activities or play among equals in terms of age, size and ability levels.

These behaviours provide opportunities to talk, explain and provide support.

Orange light sexual behaviours cause concern because of:

  • Persistence, intensity, frequency or duration
  • The type of activity for the age and stage of development
  • Inequality in age, size, power or developmental ability
  • Risk to the health and safety of the child or others
  • Unusual changes in a child’s behaviours.

These behaviours signal should not be ignored and signal the need to monitor and provide targeted support.

Red light sexual behaviours indicate or cause harm because they are:

  • Excessive, compulsive, coercive, forceful, degrading or threatening
  • Secretive, manipulative or involve bribery or trickery
  • Not appropriate for the age and stage of development
  • Between children or young people with a significant difference in age, developmental ability or power
  • Abusive or aggressive.

These behaviours signal the need to provide immediate protection and follow up support.

Developing the Traffic Light Tool

The original Traffic Light Tool is owned by the Australian organisation True Relationships & Reproductive Health. We worked with professionals and young people for its use in the UK.

Brook is the only organisation in the UK who can give you access and training to use the Traffic Light Tool. We’ve been using the Tool for over 10 years and have trained thousands of people with over 95% approval rates.

Our safeguarding record

Safeguarding is a priority for Brook and is taken seriously by professionals. Day to day we endeavour provide the best possible safeguarding practice to the people we support whom require additional care and protection.

We embed these principles and practices in developing our training offer.

We are confident that our approach is effective in identifying risk and that we respond in the best interests of our clients and users to keep them safe. We will continue to work with professionalism, curiosity and desire to learn and evolve our safeguarding practice, recognising that there is no room for complacency and that you deserve the highest quality support.

Training is needed to use the Tool safely

Professionals must attend a group Traffic Light Tool group training session or complete the online course to be able to use the tool safely and, therefore, the tool cannot be shared with staff who have not completed training.

The Traffic Light Tool supplements your safeguarding processes and is not a replacement for your organisation’s safeguarding procedures.

Learning outcomes

After completing the training, you will be able to: 

  • Recognise and identify sexualised behaviours and differentiate between those which are part of healthy sexual development and those which are problematic or harmful. 
  • Reflect on your own values and understand how they can impact on decision making. 
  • Demonstrate a common language around developmental and harmful sexual behaviours. 
  • Understand what a behaviour may be communicating and why the child or young person may be exhibiting the behaviour. 
  • Appropriately respond to sexualised behaviours, considering possible motivations, communications and severity. 


Training options

We offer many different training options, whether you want to train when it suits you or license the tool to upskill your entire organisation. Once you’ve completed the training you’ll get access to the Traffic Light Tool.

Online course – £30

Complete the training at your own pace and in your own time on our online learning platform

Buy access for myself Buy a voucher for someone else

Already enrolled? Log in to Brook Learn

Group training

Book individual spaces on our online group training sessions or organise a session with us to train a group of your staff.

Training dates

Training your organisation

Train your staff to deliver the Traffic Light Tool training in your organisation or lease the online course on your LMS.

Browse our cost-effective methods

You might also be interested in…

Spotting the Signs Tool
Young person talking to a clinician in a clinic.
How to Deliver RSE
Two students stood in front of a whiteboard discussing what to write
Training for professionals
Education sessions for young people

Join Brook’s Learning Network

Join other teachers, educators and schools and receive regular email updates with exclusive content and tips from Brook

Sign up to the Learning Network