Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is when a child is tricked or forced to take part in sexual activities or the taking of sexual photos. It can happen in person or online, and there are two types: contact and non-contact sexual abuse.

Contact abuse involves physical sexual contact with a child’s body, including:

  • Sexual touching of any part of a child’s body (whether they are clothed or not)
  • Kissing
  • Oral sex
  • Using a body part or object to penetrate a child
  • Forcing a child to take part in sexual activities
  • Making a child undress or touch someone else

Non-contact abuse is sexual activity that doesn’t involve physical sexual contact, and can happen in person or online. Non-contact abuse includes:

  • Exposing or flashing
  • Showing pornography
  • Exposing a chid to sexual acts
  • Making a child masturbate
  • Making, viewing, or distributing child abuse images or videos
  • Tricking or forcing a child to make, view, or share child abuse images or videos
  • Tricking or forcing a child to take part in sexual activities or conversations
  • Sexual exploitation

Effects of Sexual Abuse

Children who are sexually abused can experience short- and long-term effects, including:

  • Feelings of shame and guilt
  • Difficulty coping with stress
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Sexually transmitted infections
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Relationship problems with family, friends and in romantic relationships
  • Pregnancy
  • Self-harm
  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts at suicide

See our Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) Strategy here.

Find out how to spot the signs of sexual abuse here.


If you are concerned about a child, please contact Front Door For Families on 01273 290400, FrontDoorForFamilies@brighton-hove.gov.uk, or use their Online Referral Form.

If a child is in immediate danger,
you should contact the
police by calling 999.