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.