About 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. Touching includes touching a child’s genitals, making a child touch someone else’s genitals, playing sexual games, and/or putting objects or body parts inside the vulva or vagina, in the mouth, or in the anus of a child for sexual pleasure. Non-touching abuse includes showing pornography to a child, exposing a person’s genitals to a child, prostituting/trafficking a child, photographing a child in sexual poses, encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts either in person or on a video, and/or watching a child undress or use the bathroom.
- Over 300,000 children are abused in the United States each year.
- Approximately one in three adult women and one in six men were abused sexually as children.
- Child sexual abuse is a crime in all 50 states.
- Child sexual abuse can lead to antisocial behavior, depression, identity confusion, loss of self-esteem and other serious emotional problems.
- 73% of child victims do not tell anyone about the abuse for at least a year. 45% of victims do not tell anyone for at least 5 years.
- Nearly 70% of all reported sexual assaults occur to children ages 17 and under.
- In 2000, the sexual assault victimization rate for youths 12 to 17 was 2.3 times higher than for adults.
- Family structure is the most important risk factor in child sexual abuse, where children who live with a single parent that has a live-in partner are 20 times more likely to be victims of child sexual abuse than children living with both biological parents.
What can you do to prevent child sexual abuse?
- Get involved with community-based prevention efforts.
- Seek more information about how to prevent abuse and keep children safe.
- Protect your own children.
- Support child abuse victims.
- Teach others about child abuse prevention.
- Report suspected child abuse.
In 2013, the NC Alliance of YMCAs adopted Darkness to Light as a statewide initiative to educate and engage communities in the prevention of child sexual abuse. To learn more about this community-based program that educates adults about the steps they can take to prevent, recognize, and respond when they suspect a child may be a victim of child sexual abuse.
Learn more about Darkness to Light.
Visit the NC Alliance of YMCA’s website for a list of YMCA’s in NC communities that are participating in this important work.
NC Coalition for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse
For more information contact Suzanne Metcalf at 919-829-8009.