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“Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is pressurised, forced or tricked into taking part in any kind of sexual activity with an adult or young person. This can include kissing, touching the young person's genitals or breasts, intercourse or oral sex. Encouraging a child to look at pornographic magazines, videos or sexual acts is also sexual abuse.


Child sex abusers can come from any professional, racial or religious background, and can be male or female. They are not always adults - children and young people can also behave in a sexually abusive way. Usually the abuser is a family member or someone known to the child, such as a family friend.


Abusers may act alone or as part of an organised group. They sometimes prefer children of a particular age, sex, physical type or ethnic background. After the abuse, they will put the child under great pressure not to tell anyone about it. They will go to great lengths to get close to children and win their trust. For example, by choosing employment that brings them into contact with children, or by pretending to be children in internet chat rooms run for children and young people.”


NSPCC - available here



“Sexual abuse seems to differ from other forms of abuse in that it is never an inadequacy or excess of what could be considered normal behaviour. It is very clearly deviant, deliberate and often pre-meditated behaviour. As with most forms of abuse, sexual abuse is usually by an adult or older child known to the child. There is often a period of 'grooming' in which the abuser draws close to the child, subsequently involving her/him in progressively more direct sexual behaviour. Such involvement is always kept secret, often through threats that leave the child trapped and confused.”


Christian Medical Fellowship - available here



“Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. rape, buggery or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts.They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual online images,watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.”


“Working Together to Safeguard Children” (2006) by HM Government, paragraph 1.32 - available here



"Sexual abuse in childhood involves a violation of the body, a profound threat to the self and a severe disruption in connections with others."


Burton et al, "Legacies of Abuse - 'It's more complicated than that': A Qualitative Study of the Meaning and Impacts of Sexual Abuse in Childhood" (1998)


Burton et al - available here



“Child sexual abuse includes all sexual activity with children by adults, and coercive sexual activity between children themselves. Children cannot consent to sexual contact with adults; they have neither the understanding nor the social position for this to be a free, equal and informed choice. And all coercive sexual contact, no matter the age or social position of the parties, is a breach of human rights. Sexual abuse of children includes single incidents as well as repeated and ongoing abuse over many years. It ranges from adults exposing their genitals ('flashing') through to repeated brutal sexual torture, and in the most extreme cases death. Whilst many countries in Europe have different ages of consent, there is absolute agreement that sex with a child under 12 is a crime, and many define sex between a 13-16 year old and an adult as a criminal act.”


CWASU - available here


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