Sexual Harm

Preventing Sexual Abuse and Sexual Exploitation


A child is sexually abused if they are persuaded or forced into taking part in sexual activities. This doesn’t have to be physically as sexual abuse can also take place online.

Contact sexual abuse involves ‘touching activities’ where the abuser makes physical contact with the child.

Non-contact sexual abuse involves grooming, exploitation and persuading children to perform sexual acts over the internet.

For more information on sexual abuse please visit the NSPCC website.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

CSE is when a young person is used by being made or tricked into doing something sexual, sometimes receiving something in return like love, affection, gifts, money, drugs or alcohol.


Sexual abuse includes any sexual act to which the vulnerable adult has not consented and may not understand. For example, being touched or kissed when it is not wanted, being made to touch or kiss someone else, being raped, being made to listen to sexual comments or forced to look at sexual acts or materials.

Sexual abuse includes rape, indecent exposure, sexual harassment, inappropriate looking or touching, sexual teasing or innuendo, sexual photography, subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts, indecent exposure and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting.

What does Sexual Abuse look like?

  • Bruising, particularly to the thighs, buttocks and upper arms and marks on the neck
  • Torn, stained or bloody underclothing
  • Bleeding, pain or itching in the genital area
  • Unusual difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Foreign bodies in genital or rectal openings
  • Infections, unexplained genital discharge, or sexually transmitted diseases
  • Pregnancy in a woman who is unable to consent to sexual intercourse
  • The uncharacteristic use of explicit sexual language or significant changes in sexual behaviour or attitude
  • Incontinence not related to any medical diagnosis
  • Self-harming
  • Poor concentration, withdrawal, sleep disturbance
  • Excessive fear/apprehension of, or withdrawal from, relationships
  • Fear of receiving help with personal care
  • Reluctance to be alone with a particular person

Reporting a concern about a child

If you have concerns about a child please report your worries via the online form or by contacting the NELC Children’s Integrated Front Door on 01472 326292 Option 2.  The Front Door can also offer information, advice and guidance around early help.

Reporting Sexual Abuse

Anyone that suspects another professional or adult of abuse or neglect has a duty to refer it to the relevant employer or safeguarding agency to be investigated.  If you need to raise a Safeguarding Adults concern, please call 01472 256 256. This number is available 24 hours a day,365 days a year.


More information