Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 defines sexual abuse as:
“forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse. Sexual abuse can take place online, and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.”
Child sexual abuse (CSA) is referred to as either being recent if it occurred within the previous 7 days, or as non-recent in that it occurred within the previous few weeks, months or years. Our response to the child should be the same regardless, the only difference being that in recent abuse the police may request forensic sampling from a child protection medical by a specialist CSA regional centre
Research indicates that just one in three children who had been sexually abused by an adult told anyone. For those abused by another child this was even less, with five out of six not speaking to anyone. This may be because:
However children may show other emotional, behavioural and physical signs of their abuse. Here are some of the signs you may notice:
The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse has developed a Signs & Indicators Template using practical evidence-based guidance. Use of this can provide a common language amongst professionals to discuss, record and share concerns that a child is being, or has been sexually abused.
It is important to consider the details of the disclosure by a child of sexual abuse; very often the child will report the abuse days, weeks or months after it has happened. However, when reporting child sexual abuse, timeframes are crucial for the professionals undertaking an assessment or investigating so that the child experiences an appropriate response. Please refer to this guide on Reporting Child Sexual Abuse
Worried about a child – If you are concerned that a child or young person has suffered harm, neglect or abuse, please contact Portsmouth Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
If a child is at immediate risk of harm, call the Police on 999.
Please see the links below for contact details and pathways, referral forms and patient leaflets:
Centre of expertise on child sexual abuse provides a range of useful guidance resources, including: