Defining Child Sexual Abuse
At the extreme end of the spectrum, sexual abuse includes sexual intercourse or
its deviations. Yet all offences that involve sexually touching a child, as well
as non-touching offenses and sexual exploitation, are just as harmful and devastating
to a child’s well-being.
Touching sexual offenses include:
- Making a child touch an adult’s sexual organs; and
- Penetrating a child’s vagina or anus no matter how slight with a penis or
any object that doesn’t have a valid medical purpose.
Non-touching sexual offenses include:
- Engaging in indecent exposure or exhibitionism;
- Exposing children to pornographic material;
- Deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse; and
- Masturbating in front of a child.
Sexual exploitation can include:
- Engaging a child or soliciting a child for the purposes of prostitution; and
- Using a child to film, photograph or model pornography.
Note that the actual sexual abuse of a child is often preceded by a period of “grooming.”
Child grooming involves psychological manipulation in the form of positive reinforcement
and foot-in-the-door tactics, using activities that are typically legal but later
lead to illegal activitie. These activities are done to gain the child's trust as
well as the trust of those responsible for the child's well-being. Additionally,
a trusting relationship with the family means the child's parents are less likely
to believe potential accusations.
Child grooming may be used to lure minors into trafficking of children, illicit
businesses such as child prostitution, or the production of child pornography.