Sexual abuse is any misuse of a child for sexual pleasure or gratification. It is the involvement of children in sexual activities that they do not fully comprehend, that they are unable to give informed consent to and/or that violates societal taboos. 9.5% of all child abuse cases are the result of sexual abuse.*
Sexual abuse comes in different forms:
* Non-touching sexual abuse – Indecent exposure or exhibitionism, exposure to pornographic material or any sexual act, including masturbation.
* Touching sexual abuse – Fondling, making a child touch an adult’s or another child’s sexual organs, penetration of a child’s vagina or anus by an adult or an object, and any other sexual act with a child.
* Sexual exploitation – Engaging a child for the purposes of prostitution or using a child to film or photograph pornographically.
* Excessive curiosity about sex or seductiveness
* Sexual acting out with peers, others
* Bruises or bleeding in external genitalia or stained, torn, bloody underclothing
* Frequent, unexplained sore throats, yeast or urinary infections.
* Bed-wetting, soiling, playing with feces
* Complains of pain or itching in genitalia
* Difficulty in sitting or walking
* Excessive bathing
* Withdrawn or aggressive
* Sexually transmitted diseases
* Pregnancy, especially in early adolescence
* Sexual inference in school artwork
* Substance abuse
* Legal issues
* Overly compulsive behavior
* Fears and phobias
* Running away
* Sleep problems
* Fire starting
* Somatic symptoms (stomach aches, headaches, etc.)
Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families, Children’s Bureau. (2010). Child Maltreatment 2009.