Sexual abuse occurs when a child is exposed to, or involved in, sexual activity that is inappropriate to the child’s age and developmental level. It includes circumstances where the child has less power than another person involved, is exploited or where the child has been bribed, threatened, or coerced. It also includes situations where there is a significant difference between the developmental or maturity level of the child and another person involved.
Some examples are:
- letting a child watch or read pornography
- allowing a child to watch sexual acts
- fondling the child’s genitals
- having oral sex with a child
- vaginal or anal penetration
- using the internet to find a child for sexual exploitation.
Possible signs of sexual abuse include when a child:
- acts in a sexualised way that is inappropriate to his/her age
- creates stories, poems or artwork about abuse
- has pain, bleeding or swelling in his/her genital area
- starts doing things they have grown out of such as crying a lot, bed wetting or soiling, clinging to caregiver
- has nightmares or sudden unexplained fears
- has a sexually transmitted infection or is pregnant.
Go to the Mandatory Reporting website for further information on the legislation for the mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse by doctors, nurses, teachers and police officers.