Child abuse – sexual : Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Alternate Names : Sexual abuse – children

Definition

Child sexual abuse is the deliberate exposure of minor children to sexual activity. This means a child is forced or talked into sex or sexual activities by another person. Such abuse includes:

  • Oral sex
  • Pornography
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Touching (fondling)

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Society was reluctant to deal with child sexual abuse a few decades ago. Today, it is considered a serious issue.

It is difficult to determine how often child sexual abuse occurs, because it is more secret than physical abuse. Children are often scared to tell anyone about the abuse. Many cases of abuse are not reported.

Abusers are usually men. They tend to know the person they are abusing. The abuser violates the trust of the younger person, which makes the sexual abuse even more devastating.

Child sexual abuse occurs in all social and economic classes of people. It has the same type of risk factors as physical child abuse, including:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Family troubles
  • Poverty

Abusers often have a history of physical or sexual abuse themselves.

A small group of repeated abusers have the psychiatric disorder, pedophilia. Their preferred sexual contact is with children.

Definition

Child sexual abuse is the deliberate exposure of minor children to sexual activity. This means a child is forced or talked into sex or sexual activities by another person. Such abuse includes:

  • Oral sex
  • Pornography
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Touching (fondling)

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Society was reluctant to deal with child sexual abuse a few decades ago. Today, it is considered a serious issue.

It is difficult to determine how often child sexual abuse occurs, because it is more secret than physical abuse. Children are often scared to tell anyone about the abuse. Many cases of abuse are not reported.

Abusers are usually men. They tend to know the person they are abusing. The abuser violates the trust of the younger person, which makes the sexual abuse even more devastating.

Child sexual abuse occurs in all social and economic classes of people. It has the same type of risk factors as physical child abuse, including:

  • Alcohol and drug abuse
  • Family troubles
  • Poverty

Abusers often have a history of physical or sexual abuse themselves.

A small group of repeated abusers have the psychiatric disorder, pedophilia. Their preferred sexual contact is with children.


Review Date : 3/14/2009
Reviewed By : Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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