What Is Child Sexual Abuse?
Child sexual abuse is when an adult, a stronger child or a teenager involves a child in sexual activity.
Sexual abuse can include:
- having any kind of sexual contact with a child
- having sexual relations with a child under 16 years old
- talking in a sexually explicit way that is not suitable for a child's age
- sending obscene mobile messages or emails to a child
- persistently intruding on a child's privacy
- showing pornographic material to a child or forcing them to watch a sexual act
- child prostitution.
Signs of sexual abuse
Children who have been sexually abused may:
- know more about sexual activities than other children their age
- play in a sexual way
- create stories, poems or artwork about abuse
- run away
- break things or hurt animals
- be very quiet or more obedient than normal
- find it hard to concentrate
- have redness or pain around their mouth or private parts
- have torn, stained or bloody clothes, especially underwear
- often play games about power or control
- masturbate more than what is normal for their age
- wet their beds or soil their clothes.
If a child shows any of these signs, you may need to act to keep them safe.
Protect a child from sexual abuse
You should always:
- know who is looking after your children
- listen to your children and believe what they say - children hardly ever make up stories about sexual abuse
- watch your child for signs of stress in a specific person's company
- be aware of possible signs of grooming.
Grooming is the way sex offenders gain the trust of children before involving them in sexual activities.
Examples can be if someone:
- regularly offers to babysit for free or take a child on overnight outings
- separates a child from other adults or children
- buys a child very expensive or too many gifts
- insists on a physical show of affection such as kissing,
- hugging, wrestling or tickling even when the child clearly doesn't want it
- is too interested in the sexual development of a child
- insists on time alone with the child with no interruption
- takes lots of pictures of children
- shares alcohol or drugs with younger children or teenagers
- shows their genitals to a child.
When you are not with your child
You have a right to know your child is safe and to ask questions about what they will be doing and who will be looking after them.
People who work with children must:
- keep them safe
- have a blue card
- be able to show you in writing how they plan to handle claims of sexual abuse
- offer activities that suit the age of the children
- look after all the children in their care.
Teach your child
Help your child to be safe without frightening them. You could tell them:
- that the parts of their bodies covered by underwear are private
- what the right names for these body parts are
- that they should let you know if anyone tries to touch their private parts
- who they can talk to if you are not available.
If your child is not yet in school, you can:
- teach them about personal safety in simple language
- repeat the same rules often
what if games to repeat the message.
If your child is in primary school, you can teach them:
- your family safety rules
- how to use the rules in a situation that could be dangerous.
You can teach your teenager to:
- think for themselves
- make good decisions
- be strong and confident.
Where to get help
Support is also available from:
Text © The State of Queensland 1995-2012, Child Sexual Abuse, https://www.qld.gov.au/community/getting-support-health-social-issue/child-sexual-abuse/ Last updated: 17 September, 2012; Viewed 26 October, 2012.
© S. D. Goeldner, 2012. Last updated August, 2019.
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