Skip to content

Child abuse

Sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse is when someone persuades or forces a child to take part in sexual activities, or encourages a child to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

It doesn’t necessarily involve physical contact and can also take place online.

Sexual abuse with contact can include sexual touching, whether the child is wearing clothes or not, all penetrative sex and forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activity.

Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, which may include grooming, sexual exploitation, engaging in sexual activity in front of a child and making, permitting to take, distributing and showing or advertising indecent images of children.

Find out more from the NSPCC about what defines child sexual abuse.

It’s important to have a good idea of what is normal sexual behaviour so you can spot the warning signs of harmful behaviour or if something might not be quite right. Find out more about sexually harmful behaviour, underage sexual activity and general sexual health, including sexually transmitted infections. 

Getting help


Information for children and young people about sexual abuse - including what to do and how to tell someone. Children and young people aged under 19 can call the confidential 24 hour helpline or chat online with a counsellor.

0800 1111


Offers advice and information aimed at adults about what to do if you think a child is being sexually abused. Also further guidance about the signs and indicators of sexual abuse and child grooming.

0808 800 5000

Parents Protect

Offers a wealth of information to help parents and carers protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. The Stop it Now! helpline is available for anyone with concerns about child sexual abuse.

0808 1000 900

If you are concerned that a child is being abused please call

0345 155 1071

or email

If it’s an emergency call 999

website feedbackX

Give us your feedback


Welcome to beta.devon, a development environment for all of our web sites and an example of how our information and services are presented.

PLEASE BE AWARE - this is a test website. It may contain inaccuracies or be misleading. remains the official website for county council information and services.

Your suggestions will help us make this site better, so if you have any comments please leave us feedback.

N.B. This site uses 'cookies' and Google Analytics. Closing this page sets a cookie so you don't see it again. There's more information on cookies at