Child sexual abuse

Sexual abuse (also referred to as sexual assault) can be experienced by anyone. When a child experiences sexual assault, it is commonly referred to as child sexual abuse. Many adult survivors have found common factors in their experiences, including:

  • they were usually abused by someone they know
  • the abuse often started when they were very young
  • the abuse was generally not an isolated one-off incident and happened over many months or years
  • the abuse was often accompanied by threats and verbal, or emotional abuse,  and sometimes physical violence


A number of resources are now available to parents and carers and the following may help you develop your understanding of CSE and the steps you can take to support children and young people and how to seek help when it’s necessary.

Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (Pace) and the Safeguarding Children e-Academy have teamed up to provide a short online course specifically designed for parents and carers.

Parents Protect is another dedicated child sexual abuse prevention and awareness website to help caring adults protect children and young people. The site is a useful resource providing information, guidance and resources.

It also offers an online learning programme enabling you to learn about the issues at your own pace and aims to:

  • give you the information you need about child sexual abuse
  • show you how to create a family safety plan
  • tell you who you can talk to if you are worried

Getting informed and seeking help and advice are the first steps to preventing or addressing issues around child sexual abuse.

The NSPCC advises teaching your child the Underwear Rule to help protect them from abuse. The Underwear Rule is a simple way that parents can help keep children safe from sexual abuse – without using scary words or even mentioning sex. They have also added an Underwear Rule video to help protect deaf children from abuse.

Female genital mutilation (FGM)

FGM is a form of both physical and sexual abuse of a child that has long lasting consequences for those it is forced upon. Officially FGM is defined as including the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons. It’s also known as female circumcision, cutting or sunna.
Religious, social or cultural reasons are sometimes given for FGM. However, FGM is child abuse. It’s a form of child abuse, dangerous and a criminal offence.
There are no medical reasons to carry out FGM. It doesn’t enhance fertility and it doesn’t make childbirth safer. It is used to control female sexuality and can cause severe and long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health (NSPCC, 2015).
More information or resources for support can be found here.
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