top of page

Understanding Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is a serious and complex issue, involving a range of criminal activities that can have a lasting impact on the victim's life. The National Crimes Against Children Investigators Association (NCACIA) is dedicated to raising awareness about the various forms of child sexual abuse and providing support for victims and their families. This comprehensive guide will help you understand the different types of child sexual abuse, as well as the importance of reporting such incidents to the appropriate authorities.


What Constitutes Child Sexual Abuse?

Child sexual abuse occurs when an adult or older teenager engages in sexual activities with a child who is unable to give legal consent. In most states, children aged 16 or younger cannot legally consent to sexual activities. The terminology used to describe child sexual abuse can vary, but it is crucial to understand the specific acts and behaviors that constitute illegal conduct. The following are examples of some common forms of child sexual abuse, though this is not an exhaustive list.

  1. Indecent Exposure: An offender exposes their genitals or breasts to a child, or observes a child exposing their private areas for the offender's sexual gratification.

  2. Indecent Contact (Molestation/Fondling): An offender touches a child's private areas (genitals, buttocks, breasts, or chest), or coerces the child to touch the offender's private areas for sexual gratification.

  3. Sexual Assault (Rape/Sexual Battery): An offender penetrates a child's vagina, anus, or mouth with their body parts or a foreign object, or coerces the child to penetrate the offender's vagina, anus, or mouth.

  4. Online Solicitation: An offender sends explicit images to a child through digital means or coerces the child to send explicit images to the offender. The offender may also engage in communication with the child, expressing intent to meet and engage in sexual activities in person.

  5. Sexual Coercion (Sextortion): An offender threatens or manipulates a child into sending explicit images or engaging in sexual activities, often as a form of blackmail or to prevent the offender from causing harm or embarrassment to the child.

  6. Child Pornography/Erotica: An offender creates, shares, promotes, or possesses images that depict a child in a sexually explicit or suggestive manner. Pornography involves explicit nudity and sexual content, while erotica may feature partial nudity or suggestive poses.

  7. Sex Trafficking (Child Sexual Exploitation): An offender coerces a child into engaging in sexual activities with others in exchange for compensation or transports a child for the purpose of engaging in sexual activities for compensation.

Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

If you or someone you know has experienced child sexual abuse, it is crucial to report the incident to local Child Protective Services (CPS) and law enforcement agencies immediately. You can also contact the National Child Abuse Hotline for support.

National Child Abuse Hotline

1-800-4-A-CHILD (800-422-4453) 

In most states, it is mandatory to report child sexual abuse to the authorities once a disclosure is made. Failure to do so may be considered a crime, depending on the circumstances. Even if the victim is now an adult, it is still essential to report past incidents of child sexual abuse to the appropriate authorities.

bottom of page