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Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.

The abuser(s) may use different methods to persuade the child to co-operate and not to tell, like bribery, threats or physical force. He or she may spend time developing a relationship with a child and also his/her family.

Sexual abuse can take many different forms from touching to intercourse and may also include involving children in looking at, or being forced to take part in, the production of pornographic material, watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Both boys and girls can be sexually abused.

Warning signs

  • A child who displays sexual knowledge or behaviour inappropriate for their age
  • Injuries or unusual appearance to private areas of the body
  • A child who is being encouraged into a secretive relationship with an adult
  • A child who hints at sexual activity through words, play or drawings
  • A child with a sexually transmitted infection

If you suspect sexual abuse, report it

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

More information can be found on our Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) webpage.