Sexual abuse is any act that involves the child in any activity for the sexual gratification of another person whether or not it is claimed that the child either consented or assented or is aware of what is happening.
The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of indecent images or in watching sexual activities, using sexual language towards a child or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Harmful sexual behaviour between children and young people
Some children and young people can develop harmful sexual behaviour which harms others and themselves. Indications of abuse include a lack of consent between the children involved; inequalities of age, development age or size; and the use of force or threats.
Signs of sexual abuse
- Sexual acts or actions involving genital contact or no physical contact
- Talking in sexual language that is inappropriate or uncomfortable
- Touching or attempting to touch in a sexual way against the person's will or understanding
- Sexual intercourse or attempted sexual intercourse
- Lewd or libidinous practices towards a child
- Non-contact sexual activity e.g., exposing sexual parts to the child or having them witness adult sexual acts
- Rape, sodomy, incest, sexual assault and inappropriate touching of genitals.
Child sexual exploitation
The sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 is an often-hidden form of child sexual abuse, with distinctive elements of exploitation and exchange.
For example, this might involve them being coerced, manipulated, forced or deceived into performing sexual activities in exchange for receiving some form of material goods.
Signs of child sexual exploitation
- Staying out late and going missing
- Multiple callers
- Excessive use of a mobile phone or multiple mobile phones
- Expressions of despair
- Disclosure of abuse followed by withdrawal of allegation
- Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancies
- Drug and alcohol misuse
- Truancy or exclusion
- High number of sexual partners and/or older boyfriends
- Unexplained amounts of money or other material items
- Marked change in appearance.