Child sexual abuse (CSA) refers to the use of children in sexual activities when, because of their immaturity and developmental level, they cannot understand or give informed consent. A wide range of activities is included in sexual abuse, including contact and noncontact activities. Contact activities included are sexualized kissing, fondling, masturbation, and digital and/or object penetration of the vagina and/or anus, as well as oral-genital, genital-genital, and anal-genital contact. Noncontact activities include exhibitionism, inappropriate observation of child (eg, while the child is dressing, using the toilet, bathing), the production or viewing of pornography, or involvement of children in prostitution.
The sexual activities are imposed on the child and represent an abuse of the caregiver's power over the child. The sequence of activities often progresses from noncontact to contact over a period of time during which the child's trust in the caregiver is misused and betrayed.
Angelo P Giardino, MD, PhD & Eileen R Giardino, PhD, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, ANP-BC Updated: Dec 11, 2008