What is Child Sexual Assault (CSA)?

Child Sexual Assault (CSA) is attempted or actual sexual contact between a child and an adult or a child and another child.

Note: CSA is not an all-encompassing term for sexual abuse of children. CSA can involve the use of physical force, threats of violence, bribes, or abuse of a position of authority.

How can this happen?

A common term used to describe how adults are able to manipulate children is “Grooming.”

Grooming describes the trust-building behaviors of an abuser toward the child (and sometimes the child’s friends and family). It tends to happens gradually and in phases. Initially, these behaviors can seem very sincere, such as being kind, considerate, and helpful.

Below describes the typical grooming process.

  • Frequently, over time, the abuser begins to bestow favors to the child and the family. For example, offering to babysit the children or buying the child a toy.
  • Another phase of the grooming process is when the abuser starts to alienate other people in the child’s life, while emphasizing how special or unique the relationship is with the child: “I’m your best friend, and you don’t need to hang out with those other kids.”
  • The fourth step is coercing secrecy from the child. This can happen in different ways: telling the child that the family will be hurt if the child tells, or convincing the child that this is a special game just for the two of them. The point is for the child not to tell about the abuse.
  • The final step is when the abuser actually violates the child’s boundaries and abuses them.

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