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Understanding Child Sexual Abuse and its Indicators

Child sexual abuse is defined as coercing or enticing a child or a young person into participating in sexual activities, regardless of whether the child comprehends the event. This abuse incorporates instances where a child is manipulated or forced into sexual activities, such as prostitution, even if they do not fully grasp the implications.

The Range of Child Sexual Abuse

In the context of child safeguarding, sexual abuse extends beyond just penetrative acts. It involves non-penetrative acts, encouraging children to view or create pornographic material, exposing them to sexual activities, and instigating children to display sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Potential Behavioural Signs of Child Sexual Abuse

There are numerous behavioural signs that might suggest sexual abuse. These can include inappropriate, unusual, or aggressive sexual behaviour indicative of a sexual relationship between the victim and the perpetrator. Some typical signs exhibited by children who are victims of sexual abuse might include:

  • Explicitly describing sexual activity.
  • Compulsive masturbation.
  • Drawings with sexual content.
  • Sexualised play involving explicit acts.
  • Discomfort or pain in the genitalia or bottom, possibly accompanied by irritation or bleeding.
  • Bruises on external genitalia or inner thighs.
  • Difficulty walking or sitting.
  • Torn, stained or bloody underwear.

The Importance of Recognising Online Sexual Abuse

In today's digital age, it is paramount to be vigilant about online sexual abuse and exploitation. These forms of abuse can include grooming, sexual communication with the child, and the live streaming of abuse. The signs of such abuse can be more subtle and are equally vital to recognise and report promptly to ensure child safety and well-being.