What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Sexual abuse involves any sexual activity with a child where consent is not or cannot be given. This includes sexual contact that is accomplished by force or threat of force, regardless of the age of the participants, and all sexual contact between adult and child, regardless of whether there is deception, or the child understands the sexual nature of the activity. Sexual contact between an older and a younger child can also be abusive if there is a significant disparity in age, development, or size, rendering the younger child incapable of giving informed consent. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

From Disability and Child Sexual Abuse: Lessons from Survivors’ Narratives for Effective Protection, Prevention and Treatment by Martina Higgins and John Swain