Child Sexual Abuse Definition & Facts | Prevent Child Abuse NC

About Child Sexual Abuse

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.

What are the two types of child sexual 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.

The Facts

  • Every nine minutes child protective services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sexual abuse.
  • Over 65,000 children are abused in the United States each year.
  • Approximately one in four adult women and one in thirteen men were abused sexually as children.*
  • Experiencing child sexual abuse is an adverse childhood experience (ACE) that can have many long-term impacts on a persons physical and mental health. Including:
    • Unplanned pregnancies
    • Chronic health conditions such as obesity or cancer
    • Depression and PTSD
    • Substance abuse
    • Increased risk of suicide


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.


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