The Definitions and Effects of Sexual
Abuse and Child Molestation
The purpose of Section A is to clearly define what constitutes sexual
abuse and child molestation. The section will also identify the different
types of abuse as well as the effects of child abuse.
The precise legal definition of child sexual abuse or molestation varies from state to state, but in general includes any form of sexual contact or exploitation in which a minor is being used for the sexual stimulation of the perpetrator. In this training the terms molestation and sexual abuse will be used interchangeably.
(From Texas Administrative Code)Title 25, Part 1, Chapter 1, Subchapter Q, Rule 1.203
(4) Childâ€“A person under 18 years of age who is not and has not been married or who has not had the disabilities of minority removed for general purposes.
(22) Sexual abuse—Any sexual activity, including any involuntary or nonconsensual sexual conduct that would constitute an offense under the Penal Code 21.08 (indecent exposure) or Chapter 22 (assaulting offenses), involving a facility and a patient or client. Sexual activity includes but is not limited to kissing, hugging, stroking, or fondling with sexual intent; oral sex or sexual intercourse; and request, suggestion or encouragement for the performance of sex.
Child sexual abuse may be violent or non-violent. All child sexual abuse is an exploitation of a child's vulnerability and powerlessness in which the abuser is fully responsible for the actions.
Child sexual abuse or molestation is CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR that involves children in sexual behaviors for which they are not personally, socially, and developmentally ready.
Types of Abuse
• Physical Abuse—includes bodily harm or injury caused by blows or harmful substances, as well as exposure to unreasonable risk of harm or injury.
• Emotional and Psychological Maltreatment—attacks a child's selfimage, often through labels and ridicule.
• Neglect—is the failure to provide for a child's physical, medical, emotional, and safety needs.
• Sexual Abuse—can occur through showing and communicating as well as through touching. Not only forced activity, but also permission and persuasion, can be abusive.
• Non-touching sexual abuse offenses include:
1. Indecent exposure / exhibitionism
2. Exposing children to pornographic material
3. Deliberately exposing a child to the act of sexual intercourse
4. Masturbation in front of a child
• Touching sexual offenses include:
2. Making a child touch an adult's sexual organ(s)
3. Any penetration of a child's vagina or anus by an object that doesn't have a medical purpose
• Other types of abuse—include abandonment and threats of harm.
(From Church Mutual Safety Tips on a Sensitive Subject: Child Sexual Abuse)
Effects of Child Abuse
"Studies have shown that abuse and neglect may negatively affect children's physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development, resulting in aggressiveness, anxiousness, the inability to control emotions, depression, and learning difficulties, among other problems." (AWANA Child Protection Policy Training)
Victims of child abuse often suffer from:
• Inability to trust, which leads to problems in relationships
• Feelings of guilt, anger, and low self-esteem
• A tendency toward alcohol and drug abuse
• Eating disorders
• Suicidal thoughts and suicide
These effects continue long after the abuse has stopped, even into adulthood.
Victims of child abuse also tend to:
• Engage in criminal activity at a higher rate than the general population.
• More likely than others to engage in risky sexual behavior.
However, the greatest loss to society comes from lost innocence, lost joy, lost hope, and lost potential. In the life of a child, it may mean loss of faith and trust in God.