What is Child Sexual Assault?

What is Child Sexual Assault?

Surviving Childhood Sexual Assault

In most states in Australia, the age of consent for sex is 16. Any sexual activity undertaken by an adult with a child or young person below the age of consent is, by definition, sexual assault.

Child sexual assault includes (but is not limited to):

  • Exposing genitals to a child.
  • Exposing a child to pornographic material.
  • Sharing images of a child which could be interpreted sexually.
  • Sexual touching of a child.
  • Penetrating any orifice of a child with any part of the perpetrator’s body or an object.
  • Making a child perform sex acts of any kind.


Child sexual assault is a crime because adults have more power than children. The adult may use this power physically, through violence or threats. Or, the adult may use psychological power, such as talking a child or young person into doing something sexual. Even if a

child is talked into some sort of sexual activity by an adult, it is still child abuse, and a crime.

It doesn’t matter if the child or young person responded physiologically to the sexual activities (such as having an erection) or even enjoyed some aspects of the relationship with the perpetrator. Some perpetrators put a lot of effort into making the child or young person feel happy and wanted. This doesn’t mean that it is not child abuse.

If a child is over the age of consent, but was forced or coerced into having sex, it is still sexual assault.