What is Child Sexual Abuse?

CONTENT WARNING: the information below contains explicit descriptions of sexual abuse and can be very difficult to read.


Child sexual abuse is defined as the inappropriate exposure or subjection of a child to sexual material, contact, activity or behaviour.

It includes any sexual act directed toward a child by an adult or by an older, more powerful child.

The four types of child sexual abuse:

i. Exposure abuse

  • Exposure of the genitals to a child
  • Photographing the child’s genitals or the child for a sexual purpose
  • An adult masturbating in front of a child
  • Exposing a child to pornography or using a child in pornography
  • Talking to, taunting or teasing a child in a sexual way

ii. Non-genital touching

  • Inappropriate oral contact (i.e. kissing)
  • Rubbing a child’s thighs in a sexualized manner and/or saying things that are sexual in nature

iii. Genital contact

  • Touching of a child’s genitals by an adult with a body part or object
  • An adult telling a child to touch an adult’s or another’s genitals
  • Rubbing (masturbating) against a child
  • An adult putting his or her mouth on the child’s genitals or the child putting his or her mouth on the adult’s genitals

iv. Penetrative abuse

This is any type of penetration of a child’s vagina, anus or mouth—however slight—by a penis, finger, tongue or other object.