Child sexual abuse: what is it?
Child sexual abuse is when adults or older children involve children in any type of sexual activity, with or without physical contact.
Child sexual abuse can include adults or older children:
- showing their genitals to children, or encouraging or forcing children to show their genitals
- peeping while children are going to the toilet, bathing or undressing, or encouraging or forcing children to peep on somebody else
- touching children in a sexual way, or encouraging or forcing children to masturbate or touch themselves or somebody else in a sexual way
- getting children to look at pornography
- encouraging, bribing or forcing children to make or send videos or photos of themselves or other children in their underwear, partially dressed or naked
- putting penises, fingers or other objects in children’s vaginas or anuses
- making sexual comments to children or about children.
Child sexual abuse is a serious crime. It harms children mentally and physically, now and into the future. Children of all ages can be at risk of sexual abuse. Both girls and boys can be sexually abused.
Most child sexual abuse is carried out by someone children know. Just under half of all sexual abuse is carried out by family members, and just under half is carried out by someone else children know.
Child sexual abuse is never children’s fault, no matter what happened or how it happened. People who sexually abuse children are solely and fully responsible for their actions.
Questions or concerns about child sexual abuse
It’s OK to have questions and concerns about child sexual abuse and protecting your child or the child you’re caring for. The articles below have answers and suggestions for keeping your child safe.
How can you keep children safe from child sexual abuse?
- Child sexual abuse: talking to children 0-11 years
- Child sexual abuse: talking to teenagers
- Preventing child sexual abuse in your family and community
- Signs that someone is involved in child sexual abuse
How can you tell if children have been sexually abused?
- Signs of sexual abuse in children and teenagers
- Grooming: recognising the signs
- Problematic and harmful sexual behaviour in children and teenagers
What can you do if children have been sexually abused?
- Child sexual abuse: what to do if a child is sexually abused
- Child sexual abuse: help and support for children
- Child sexual abuse: helplines and services
- Sexual assault and teenagers
All children have the right to grow up safe from abuse. Talking with children about sexual abuse and protecting children from sexual abuse is part of creating safe environments that help children grow and thrive.