• • • • • • • Introduction What is child sexual abuse? Who sexually abuses children? How does abuse take place? What can I look out for? What can I do to keep my children safe? Further information and organisations that can help
Many people feel that they already hear more than they want to about child sexual abuse and hearing about these crimes, in the media and in the community, can be extremely upsetting. Often the TV, radio and newspapers cover stories about children who are abused, abducted and even murdered, usually by strangers, but it is important to know that these are not typical crimes. Sexual abuse is more often perpetrated by people who are known to the child. People who abuse children are often very skilled at building trust both with the child and with their parents, carers and friends. Abuse may take place for years with no one being aware of it. The internet can also provide opportunities for adults to make contact with children in order to groom a child for abuse – both online and offline. The secrecy surrounding child sexual abuse is evident in the fact that only a quarter of children who are sexually abused tell anyone about it at the time. Of these, most tell a family member or friend. Relatively few come to the attention of the police, Children’s Services or health professionals. Most adults want to protect children from such abuse. Recognising the behaviour of people who groom and sexually abuse children is not easy – either because we do not know what to look for or because our suspicions are so disturbing that we push them out of our minds. You may be concerned about someone who has contact with your child or a child close to you (which could also be via the internet) and it is important that you know the right steps to take to raise your concerns and take the appropriate measures to keep that child safe. This leaflet is designed to give you practical information to help you understand how abusers and potential abusers operate, how you can identify the signs of grooming and child sexual abuse and what you can do to protect your child or a child close to you from harm. 5
What is child sexual abuse?
Child sexual abuse can involve touching and non-touching activity. Non-touching activity includes: • • • • • • showing adult pornography or images of child abuse to a child; deliberately exposing an adult’s genitals to a child; photographing a child in sexual poses; encouraging a child to take indecent and inappropriate images of themselves or others; encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts; and / or inappropriately watching a child undress or use the bathroom.
Touching activity includes: • • • • touching a child’s genitals or private parts for sexual pleasure; inciting a child to touch themselves sexually; making a child touch someone else’s genitals, play sexual games or have sex; and/or putting objects or body parts inside the child’s mouth or body.
What is child sexual abuse? continued
Child sexual abuse can also occur via the internet. Child sexual offenders can use the internet in a number of ways to abuse children, including: • • • • • contacting children they already know and using the internet to groom that child in secret; contacting children unknown to them and grooming them into performing sexual acts via a webcam; contacting children unknown to them and grooming them into meeting in the real world to abuse them; taking still or moving images of child abuse and sharing these online; or downloading and / or sharing indecent images of children (sometimes referred to as child pornography) with other likeminded people online.
Who sexually abuses children?
More than 8 out of 10 children who are sexually abused know their abuser. This means, that sexual abusers are likely to be people we know, and could well be people we care about. Some will seek out employment or voluntary work which brings them into contact with children....
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