What is Child Sexual Abuse?

  Child sexual abuse is defined as any sexual conduct with a child by an adult, adolescent, or older child. Be aware of age, size, social or power differences between two children.

Touching Offenses may include:

  • Fondling private parts.
  • Touching a child’s genitals or asking a child to touch someone else’s genitals.
  • Playing sexual games. (Pants-Down or Doctor)
  • Coercing a child to be sexual with animals.
  • Genital, oral or anal intercourse.
  • Forcing a child into prostitution.

Non-touching Offenses may include:

  • Showing pornography to a child.
  • Exposing oneself.
  • Photographing a child in sexual poses.
  • Encouraging a child to watch or hear sexual acts.
  • Voyeurism. (Peeping Tom)
  • Verbal or emotional abuse of a sexual nature (e.g. making fun of a child’s body parts, calling a child “slut”, etc.).
  • Obscene phone calls.

What Should I Know?

  • In 90% of child sexual abuse cases, the child knows and trusts the person who commits the abuse.
  • 30-50% of all abusers are under the age of 18.
  • One in four girls and one in seven boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • 84% of sexual abuse is never reported.

Child Abuse and Neglect Information
for Child Care Providers

  Child abuse and neglect can be difficult to recognize, especially if the victim is too young to talk about the abuse and identify the person responsible for it. A child care providers’ frequent contacts with children puts him/her in a good position to recognize victimized children. Child care providers are legally mandated reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect. Child care professionals concerned about the safety and well-being of a child can play a major role in the nurturing of children by recognizing the potential effects that child abuse and neglect can have on a child’s growth and development.

The following signs of abuse and neglect can be observed in
the child care setting:
  • The child tells you about an abusive or neglectful situation.
  • Bruises or injuries are evident after an absence. (Abusive parents may keep children home after a beating in an effort to conceal bruises or injuries.)
  • There are sudden changes in the child’s behavior.
  • The child wears clothing inappropriate to the weather to cover their body.
  • The child displays consistent hunger and/or poor hygiene.
  • The child frequently complains of pain and/or injury without apparent injury or illness.
  • The child turns to strangers indiscriminately for affection.
  • The child does not look to the parents for relief from discomfort.
  • The child seems afraid to go home.
  • The child expresses a belief that, “I am bad”, or that, “I deserved it” (regarding excessive punishment).
  • The child displays destructive or cruel behavior.
  • The child re-enacts the abuse using dolls, drawings or friends.
  • The child has detailed and age-inappropriate understanding of sexual behavior.

What are the Physical and Behavioral Signs?

  Children who may be too frightened to talk about sexual molestation may exhibit a variety of physical and behavioral signals. Any or several of these signs may be significant.
  • Physical signs of sexual abuse are not common, although redness, rashes or swelling in the genital area, urinary tract infections or other such symptoms should be carefully investigated. Also, physical problems associated with anxiety, such as chronic stomach pain or headaches, may occur.
  • Emotional or behavioral signals are more common. These can run from “too perfect” behavior, to withdrawal and depression, to unexplained anger and rebellion.
  • Sexual behavior and language that are not age-appropriate can be a red flag.
  • Sexually aggressive behavior toward adults or other children.
  • Fear of a person or an intense dislike at being left somewhere or with someone.

“It can’t happen in my family or child care setting.
I could tell if someone I know is an abuser.”
Yet at least 90% of the victims know their abusers.

What do I Watch for When Adults/Adolescents
are With Children?

  Have you ever seen someone playing with a child or giving a child unwanted attention and felt uncomfortable with it?
Don’t ignore the behavior; learn the warning signs.
Do you know an adult or an older child who:
  • Refuses to let a child set any of his or her own limits?
  • Insists on hugging, touching, kissing, tickling, wrestling with, or holding a child even when the child clearly does not want this affection?
  • Is overly interested in the sexuality of a particular child or teen; talks repeatedly about the child’s developing body or interferes with normal teen dating?
  • Manages to get time alone or insists on time alone with a child with no interruptions?
  • Spends most of his/her spare time with children and has little interest in spending time with someone his own age?
  • Buys children gifts or gives them money for no apparent reason?
  • Walks in on children or teens using the bathroom?
  • Allows children or teens to consistently get away with inappropriate sexualized behavior?

If you answered “yes” to some of these questions, talk to that person. If you are uncomfortable, but don’t see these signs, be sure to trust your instincts and ask questions.
Whatever your level of discomfort, take special note of the activities and whereabouts of the child and adult/adolescent in question. Protect the child from unwanted or uncomfortable situations and believe the child if they tell you they don’t want to be around a certain person.
Notify the county social services child protection division or law enforcement if you believe the child has been abused.


Contact the Alliance for Children’s Justice at:
701-223-9052 OR 1-800-403-9932

Contact us for information on:

Authentic Voices of North Dakota:
Authentic Voices of ND provides opportunities for survivors and others impacted by any form of child sexual abuse, child abuse or neglect to educate adults and protect children by sharing their voice.

Participate in opportunities to educate adults and
protect children by sharing your voice!

To learn more about child sexual abuse:
Call to schedule the presentation
“Once Can Hurt A Lifetime”
701-223-9052 or 1-800-403-9932

Educational presentations and materials are available on the topics of child abuse, child sexual abuse, and neglect from
Prevent Child Abuse North Dakota.


You have the power to stop it.


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