WHAT IS CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Every province and territory in Canada has a legal definition of what constitutes child abuse. Typically, child abuse is the act or omission by any person where the act or omission results in:
- Physical injury to the child
- Emotional disability of a permanent nature in the child or is likely to result in such a disability
- Sexual exploitation of the child with or without the child’s consent
Child Abuse Takes a Variety of Forms
Physical abuse: The use of force against a child in such a way that the child is either injured or at risk of being injured. Physical abuse can be overtly aggressive (e.g. beating, hitting, shaking, pushing, choking, biting, burning, kicking, assaulting a child with a weapon) or can be more subtle and less obvious (e.g. bumping, pushing, restraining, pinching, squeezing an arm or leg).
Emotional abuse: A chronic pattern of behaviour toward a child that causes negative effects on his/her emotional development. Examples include verbal threats, social isolation, ignoring, intimidation, put-downs, and unreasonable demands. A single episode of name-calling would be considered inappropriate, but would not necessarily constitute emotional abuse. Repetitive name-calling or the intentional damaging of a child’s self-esteem, however, would be considered abusive. A single incident of high intensity emotional abuse/trauma would also qualify.
Child Sexual Abuse: Any form of adult/child sexualized interaction constitutes child sexual abuse. Sexual abuse of a child may occur through behaviours that do not involve actual physical contact.
Contact sexual abuse includes:
- Touching the genital area, over or under clothing
- Touching breasts, over or under clothing
- Touching another’s genital area
- Oral sex
- Vaginal or anal penetration with a part of the body (e.g. finger, penis) or with an object
Non-contact sexual abuse includes:
- Invitation to touch another in a sexual way
- Voyeurism (‘Peeping Tom’)
- Encouraging or forcing a child to masturbate or to watch others masturbate
- Indecent exposure (‘flashing’) or showing genital areas
- Involving children in the viewing or production of pornographic materials or in watching sexual activities
- Encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways