Child sexual abuse is any sexual contact with a child. It can take many forms — including both touching and non-touching behaviors.

Touching behaviors include:

  • Touching a child's genitals (penis, testicles, vulva, breasts or anus) for sexual pleasure or other unnecessary reason;
  • Making a child touch someone else's genitals;
  • Putting objects or body parts (like fingers, tongue or a penis) inside the vulva or vagina, in the mouth, or in the anus of a child for sexual pleasure or other unnecessary reason.

Non-touching behaviors include:

  • Exposing a child to, or using him or her for, pornography or prostitution;
  • Encouraging a child to perform sexual acts;
  • Exposing a person's genitals to a child;
  • Performing sexual acts in a child's presence;
  • Photographing a child in sexual poses;
  • Watching a child undress or use the bathroom, often without the child's knowledge;
  • Using computers and the Internet to make sexual overtures or expose a child to sexual behavior.

A child sexual abuser may spend months "grooming" a victim with nonsexual hugging and touching — behavior that appears to be perfectly normal and acceptable. When the behavior becomes increasingly sexual, the child is confused, frightened and powerless to make it stop.

One Child's Story of Sexual Abuse

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

What is the HERO Project?

HERO, a project of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, is a community-based, media-driven, child sexual abuse prevention program designed to educate and motivate adult community members to call the 24-hour HERO Hotline if they suspect child sexual abuse. Learn More about how to step in and stop abuse