Child sexual abuse
A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities.
This doesn't have to be physical contact and it can happen online. Sometimes the child won't understand that what's happening to them is abuse.
They may not even understand that it's wrong. Or they may be afraid to speak out.
How do you define child sexual abuse?
There are 2 different types of child sexual abuse. These are called contact abuse and non-contact abuse.
Contact abuse involves touching activities where an abuser makes physical contact with a child, including penetration. It includes:
- sexual touching of any part of the body whether the child's wearing clothes or not
- rape or penetration by putting an object or body part inside a child's mouth, vagina or anus
- forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activity
- making a child take their clothes off, touch someone else's genitals or masturbate.
Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, such as grooming, exploitation, persuading children to perform sexual acts over the internet and flashing. It includes:
- encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts
- not taking proper measures to prevent a child being exposed to sexual activities by others
- meeting a child following sexual grooming with the intent of abusing them
- online abuse including making, viewing or distributing child abuse images
- allowing someone else to make, view or distribute child abuse images
- showing pornography to a child
- sexually exploiting a child for money, power or status (child exploitation).
Read more about the official definitions of child sexual abuse in the UK.
The CSA Centre have produced research on the scale and nature of Child Sexual Abuse.