Sexual abuse is any sexual molestation or sexual exploitation of a child by a person having charge of a child or by another person.

Sexual abuse also occurs when the person having charge of a child knows, or should know, of the possibility of sexual molestation or exploitation by another person and fails to protect a child.

Sexual abuse includes sexual touching, engaging in sexual activity with a child, exposing genitals to a child, and incest.

The signs and indicators of sexual abuse may include, but are not limited to, those that follow. It is important to realize that the presence of any one indicator is not conclusive proof that a child has been abused. In most instances, abused children will exhibit a number of behavioural and physical indicators.

Behavioural indicators in children

  • Age-inappropriate play of sexual nature with toys, self or others

  • Age-inappropriate sexually explicit drawing and/or descriptions

  • Bizarre, sophisticated or unusual sexual knowledge

  • Seductive behaviours

Physical indicators in children

  • Unusual or excessive itching or pain in the throat, genital or anal area

  • Torn, stained or bloody underwear (may be observed if the child needs bathroom assistance)​

  • Injuries to the breasts, genital or anal areas such as ​

    • bruising

    • swelling

    • infection

  • Sexually transmitted disease

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