Signs of 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 be physical, verbal or emotional, including:
- kissing, holding or fondling a child in a sexual way
- exposing genitals to a child
- talking in a sexual way that’s not appropriate for the child’s age
- making obscene phone calls, text messages or remarks
- persistently intruding on a child’s privacy
- penetrating a child’s vagina or anus by penis, finger or other object
- having sex with a child under 16 years of age
- showing pornographic films, magazines or photographs to a child
- having a child pose or behave in a sexual way
- forcing a child or young person to watch a sexual act
- forcing a child or young person to have sex with another child
- oral sex
- child prostitution.
In addition to the signs of child abuse outlined above, children who’ve been sexually abused may also:
- know more about sexual activities than other children their age
- play in a sexual way
- masturbate more than what’s normal for their age and stage of development
- refuse to undress for activities or often wearing layers of clothing
- have bruising, bleeding, swelling, tears or cuts on their genitals or anus
- have unusual vaginal odour or discharge
- have itching or pain in the genital area, difficulty going to the toilet, walking or sitting
- have a sexually transmitted disease, especially in a young child
- have torn, stained or bloody clothing, especially underwear
- be afraid of being alone with a particular person
- be frequently depressed, feel suicidal or attempt suicide
- create stories, poems or artwork about abuse.
If a child shows any of these signs, you may need to act to keep them safe.