Child sexual abuse occurs when a person uses his/her power over a child or youth, and involves the child in any sexual act. Child sexual abuse occurs when a person uses his/her power over a child or youth, and involves the child in any sexual act. The power of the abuser can lay in age differences, intellectual or physical development, a relationship of authority over the child, and/or the child’s dependency on him/her.
“Touching” is not the only way in which a child can be sexually abused. Sexual abuse includes acts such as: fondling, genital stimulation, mutual masturbation, oral sex, using fingers, penis, or objects for vaginal/anal penetration, inappropriate sexual language, sexual harassment, voyeurism, exhibitionism, as well as exposing a child to, or involving a child in pornography or prostitution.
The offender may engage the child in sexual acts through threats, bribes, force, misrepresentation, and other forms of coercion. Sexual abuse is usually an ongoing pattern of progressively intrusive sexual interactions. Most of the time, the offender is someone well known to the child and trusted by the child and/or family.
Age of Consent
Information adopted from Understanding Child Sexual Abuse: Guide for Parents and Caregivers.
What are the warning signs?
Child sexual abuse isn’t always easy to spot. The perpetrator could be someone you have known a long time or trust, which may make it even harder to notice. Consider the following warning signs:
- irritation or injury to the genital area,
- difficulty walking or sitting,
- frequent urinary or yeast infections,
- sexually transmitted infections,
- bloody, torn, or stained underclothes.
- seems threatened by physical contact,
- shows signs of depression or post-traumatic stress disorder,
- sleep disturbances,
- sexualized behaviour,
- unexplained anger, anxiety,
- poor self-image, low self-esteem, lack of confidence.
Child Sexual Abuse Resources
Dealing with Child Abuse: A Handbook for School Personnel.
(Developed by the Government of Northwest Territories.)
The BC Handbook for Action on Child Abuse and Neglect.
Click here to access more resources.