Sexual abuse occurs when a person forces a child to have any form of sexual contact or makes a child perform sexual acts. Sexual abuse may involve touching private parts (clothed or unclothed), penetration using an object, forced sexual acts between children, or making the child view, read or participate in pornography. These acts are abuse even when offenders say they were gentle and did not hurt the child.
Sexual abuse is also known as molestation and exploitation. Sexual molestation does not always mean sexual intercourse. Sometimes older children molest younger or small children. Sexual acts between children become molestation when one child uses coercion, force, or violence to get the other child to do the acts. Young molesters should be reported to social service agencies so they can receive the help they need.
Sexual molestation is overwhelming to children, especially when an adult is involved. Most children are taught to trust adults. They tend to believe what adults tell them is true rather than to rely on their own feelings. This works against them in two ways. If the molester tells them that what is being done is okay, they may doubt their own feelings that it is not. If a parents’ initial reaction when they hear the child’s molestation report is “This can’t be true!”, the child may wonder if his or her own feelings are mistaken. Children almost never tell about abuse “to create problem.” More often, they fear that telling will make people angry at them. It is extremely difficult for children to report abuse.