What is Child Sexual Abuse?
When adults engage in any type of sexual activity with children, it is sexual abuse and it is a crime. When the sexual activity is between children or adolescents, it is not always so clear. Some kinds of sexual behavior between children might be innocent explorations, however, some behaviors between children might be abusive. If force or coercion is involved or if there is a big difference in age, development, or size there is a chance it could be abusive and an adult needs to take action. To find out more about sexual behaviors between children, click HERE.
What is considered sexual activity? By law sexual abuse can include touching and non-touching activities. ANY form of child pornography is illegal and needs to be reported. Some examples of other non-touching behaviors include:
- showing pornography to a child
- deliberately exposing an adult’s genitals to a child
- photographing a child in sexual poses
- encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts
- inappropriately watching a child undress or use the bathroom
Examples of abusive touching behaviors include: touching of a child’s genital area, buttocks or breasts over or under the clothing; intercourse and or penetration, however slight, of the child’s mouth, anus, or vagina. These behaviors are committed to abuse the victim, or for sexual arousal or gratification of the offender. Coercing a child to touch him/herself, the offender or another person in a sexual manner is also abusive.
No matter what the circumstances, most often child sexual abuse is a gradual process rather than a single event. Above all, child sexual abuse is NEVER the victim’s fault.