Defining Sexual Abuse Against Minors

Sexual abuse against minors (child sexual abuse) can be any sexual activity with a minor by an adult or even another minor, physical or non-physical, forced or coerced.

Physical sexual abuse could include touching, a “friendly” touch or pat on the back, or fondling over or under clothes, and kissing or other oral contact or oral-genital contact. Non-physical sexual abuse could include exposing a minor to pornography, verbal sexual comments, innuendo, talks or discussions.

The sourced articles below should provide you more information on the definition of sexual abuse against minors.

  1. What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

    “Child sexual abuse is defined as sexual activity with a child by an adult, adolescent or older child. If any adult engages in sexual activity with a child, that is sexual abuse. If another child or adolescent engages in sexual activity with a child, a grey area enters where some sexual behavior is innocent exploration rather than abuse. … There are two main types of child sexual abuse: touching and non-touching.”

    Prevent Child Abuse North Carolina,, accessed 6/22/2022

  2. Child Sexual Abuse Facts & Resources

    “What is Child Sexual Abuse? … It is any sexual activity between adults and minors or between two minors when one forces it on the other. This includes sexual touching and non-touching acts like exhibitionism, exposure to pornography, photography of a child for sexual gratification, solicitation of a child for prostitution, voyeurism and communication in a sexual way by phone, Internet or face-to-face. It is a crime punishable by law that must be reported.”

    The Children’s Assessment Center,, accessed 6/22/2022

  3. Defining Sexual Assault

    “Child Sexual Abuse or Molestation … is when a person has sexual contact with a child. In most cases, children know their abusers. Perpetrators can be family members, neighbors, coaches, teachers, clergy members, caretakers, family friends, or other trusted adults. Examples of child sexual abuse might include sexual touching, penetration, manipulating the child to do something sexual, or taking graphic photos of children. Perpetrators use grooming behaviors to gain a child’s trust and slowly introduce sexual contact.”

    State of Michigan,, 6/22/2022

  4. What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

    “Child sexual abuse is any sexual act with a child by a parent, an adult or someone who is older or more powerful than the child. It involves forcing, tricking, bribing, threatening or pressuring a child into sexual acts. The abuse can be physical, verbal or emotional and includes such acts as sexual touching, exposing the child to pornography, taking pornographic pictures of the child, ‘peeping’ at the child, exposing oneself to a child, and attempting/performing oral, anal, or vaginal penetration.”

    Marshall University,, accessed 6/22/2022; (Broken link removed 8/2023)

  5. Understanding Child Sexual Abuse

    “People don’t always realise that there are different forms of child sexual abuse. It isn’t just about an adult having sex with a child or touching a child in a sexual way, although it often does involve touching a child’s private parts or making them touch someone else’s. It can also include other activities, such as showing a child pornography or forcing a child to watch a sexual act. Child sexual abuse also happens online, for example making and sharing sexual images of under 18s (sometimes called child pornography), and having sexual conversations with under 16s, commonly called grooming.”

    Parents Protect,, accessed 6/22/2021

  6. Identifying The Different Types Of Child Abuse

    “Sexual Abuse: Touching a child in a sexual manner, or having sexual relations with the child is sexual abuse and includes any behavior toward the child for sexual stimulation. This type of abuse is characterized by fondling, forced sexual acts, and indecent physical exposure. Whether the abuse occurs as an isolated incident or as repetitive conduct that continues for years, both types are considered sexual abuse of a child. … These behaviors in a child can signal sexual abuse: knowledge or promotion of sexual behavior premature for his/her age; sudden difficulty with toilet habits in a young child; pain or itching, bruises or bleeding in the genital area. Other symptoms are trouble sitting or walking, blood in his/her underwear, and sexual abuse of other children.”

    CASA Child Advocates of Montgomery County,, accessed 6/15/2022

  7. What Is Child Sexual Abuse?

    “Examples of abusive touching behaviors include:
    – fondling of a child’s genitals, buttocks or breasts;
    – penetration of the child’s mouth, anus, or vagina by the abuser or with an object;
    – coercing a child to fondle him/herself, the abuser, or another child.
    Examples of abusive non-touching behaviors include:
    – exposing oneself to a child;
    – viewing and violating the private behaviors of a child or teen (e.g. while undressing, bathing, etc);
    – taking sexually explicit or provocative photographs of a child;
    – showing pornography or sexually suggestive images to a child; or
    – talking in sexually explicit or suggestive ways to children in person or by phone
    – sending sexually explicit or suggestive messages to children by internet or text message.”

    Massachusetts Citizens for Children (MassKids),, accessed 6/15/2022

  8. Child Abuse And Neglect: What Parents Should Know

    “Sexual abuse is any sexual activity that a child cannot understand or consent to. It includes acts such as fondling, oral-genital contact and genital and anal intercourse. It also includes exhibitionism, voyeurism, and exposure to pornography.”

    American Academy of Pediatrics,, 3/16/2022

  9. What Is Childhood Sexual Abuse?

    “Types of abuse include but aren’t limited to:
    – Exposing a child to sexual activity or sexual content either in person or online
    – Incest
    – Producing, owning, or distributing child pornography
    – Rape
    – Sex trafficking or prostitution of a child
    – Sexual assault (including intercourse, fondling, masturbation of oneself, or forcing a minor to masturbate)
    – Sexual harassment (such as calling or messaging a minor with obscene content)
    Using physical force or causing physical injury is not required for an act to be considered sexual abuse of a child. Legally, any sexual act between a child under the age of consent (which varies from state to state) and an adult is considered sexual abuse because children cannot provide consent.”

    Elizabeth Hartney, BSc, MSc, MA, PhD, Medically reviewed by Ann-Louise T. Lockhart, PsyD, ABPP,, 12/6/2021

  10. Definitions Of Child Abuse And Neglect

    “CAPTA [Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act] defines sexual abuse as follows:

    The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or The rape, and in cases of caretaker or interfamilial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.

    Children’s Bureau/ACYF/ACF/HHS,, 3/2019; (Broken link removed 12/2023)