What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse is sexual activity between an adult and a child. (Note: a child may be sexually abused by another child, too.)


Examples of physical sexual abuse are:

  • fondling a child or touching a child in a sexual way
  • making a child touch an adult’s or older child’s sexual organs
  • oral contact with genitals involving a child and an adult or older child
  • penetration, attempted penetration, or any genital-to-genital contact.


Examples of nonphysical sexual abuse are:

  • indecent exposure (for example, displaying genitals)
  • talking to a child about sex for inappropriate reasons, or telling sexual stories
  • making obscene phone calls to a child
  • sending sexually-oriented e-mail or text messages to a child
  • allowing a child to watch or hear sexual acts or materials
  • showing a child pornography or other inappropriate sexual material.


Examples of exploitive sexual abuse are:

  • child pornography- photographs, films, videotapes, Internet sites or live performances of children in sexual activities or poses
  • child prostitution- when children are paid by adults for sexual services (adults may pay money or provide a child with shelter, food or drugs)
  • sex rings- when one or more adults sexually abuse children in small groups
  • Internet exploitation- when an adult uses e-mail or Web sites to find children to sexually abuse.