To allay any doubts:
All sexual activity between an adult and a child is sexual abuse.
Sexual touching between children can also be sexual abuse, when there is a significant age difference (usually 3 or more years) between the children, or if the children are very different developmentally or size-wise.
Sexual abuse does not have to involve penetration, force, pain, or even touching.
If an adult engages in any sexual behaviour (looking, showing, or touching) with a child to meet their own interest or sexual needs, it is sexual abuse.
CSA INCLUDES SEXUALLY-MOTIVATED CONTACT AND NON-CONTACT BEHAVIOURS.
Physical contact that constitutes CSA includes:
• Making a child touch someone else's genitals
• Touching a child's genitals for sexual purposes
• Making a child play sexual games
• Penetrating via putting an object body parts inside the child for sexual purposes, including the vagina, mouth and anus.
• Physically examining a child for sexual gratification.
• Engaging a child in prostitution.
Non-contact behaviours that constitute CSA include:
• Sexualised genital exposure from an adult to a child
• Making a child perform sexual poses
• Photographing a child naked or in sexual poses
• Showing a child pornography
• Making a child watch sexual acts
• Making a child listen to sexual acts
• Inappropriately watching a child undress or use the bathroom
• Downloading indecent, sexual images of children on the Internet
• Witnessing others being sexually abused
What to do if you suspect CSA:
If you think you were a victim of CSA, you were. It can be all too easy to dismiss an event we were uncomfortable with because it didn’t involve touch or it was carried out by someone we knew. If you feel that you were subjected to CSA, trust your own judgment – you wouldn’t be suspecting it without good reason.
If you are someone who has any suspicions at all that a child you know is being sexually abused, do not wait for ‘proof’ – report it immediately to the local police or social services. Alternatively, call the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000. If you have concerns about someone you think might have a sexual interest in children, contact Stop IT Now on 0808 1000 900.
Dr Nicola J Davies,
BSc (Hons); MSc Comm.; PhD; MBPsS
Health Psychology Consultant and Freelance Writer