Safe Place: The Center for Child Protection and Health

Definition of Sexual Assault, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Exploitation and Rape

It is important to note that the following definitions are gender neutral:

Sexual assault is defined broadly as sexual acts that include fondling and other non-penetrating acts, as well as rape.

Sexual abuse is described as the involvement of a child in sexual activities that the child cannot comprehend, and in which the child is developmentally unprepared and cannot provide consent, and/or violate the law or social taboos of family roles. This would include incest (sexual contact between family members).

Sexual exploitation usually refers to acts without sexual contact, but which are nonetheless, viewed as potentially harmful to a child such as having: children pose for sexually explicit photographs or videos, children witness sexual acts, or adults exposing themselves to children inappropriately for the adult’s sexual gratification.

Rape is generally defined as forceful, penetrative sexual contact of the mouth, genitals and/or anus.

  • Print
  • Share

Contact Us

Report Child Abuse or Neglect

  • PA: 1-800-932-0313
  • NJ: 1-877-652-2873
  • DE: 1-800-292-9582
  • If the child is in immediate danger, call 911 first.