Sexual Abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.
The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse.
Sexual abuse can take place online, and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children. (Definition provided by Working Together)
Within the spectrum of sexual abuse there is:
- Harmful Sexualised Behaviour (HSB) often refers to sexually harmful behaviour towards children by another child. HSB is damaging to both the children who demonstrate it and those who are exposed to it.
- Intra-familial Sexual Abuse is sexual Abuse that takes place within the family environment or surroundings. Not necessarily by a related family member, perpetrators may be family members, wider relatives, friends or close contacts of the family.
- Extra-Familial sexual Abuse, referring to sexual harm and abuse that occurs to children outside of their family home and environment. Children are often more at risk in adolescent years because of their rapidly broadening social networks and contacts.
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