Child sexual abuse

From MAP Wiki

Child sexual abuse or CSA is a form of abuse of children and adolescents where sexual acts are used as a means of harm. What particular actions are included under this label is debated by young people themselves, abuse prevention experts, and the general public alike.

Definition variations

Overall, it is possible to single out at least three different approaches to what should be considered CSA.

  • Legal. By this definition, everything that is considered child sexual abuse in the country where the incident occurred should be classified as such. This approach makes it very hard to discuss CSA as a worldwide problem.
  • Perpetrator-oriented. CSA is an abusive act against a child that was motivated sexually. One of the most important limitations of this definition is that it requires the perpetrator to honestly admit their intentions.
  • Victim-oriented. Any abusive act that is considered sexual by the person it happened to is child sexual abuse. This approach is newer than others, possibly based on the accounts of victims who have experienced sexual trauma from things that their society did not consider sexually inappropriate.

In addition to this, multiple people consider all sexual acts, involving children, to be abusive by default. Classifying sexual relationships between adults and children as either abusive or carrying a significant risk of abuse lies at the core of the anti-contact ideology. Some take this view to the extreme and go as far as to believe sexual relationships between same-age children or seeing pornographic content as a child is inherently traumatizing, thus classifying all involvement of children in sexuality that is not immediately intervened in as child sexual abuse. There also exists an opposing extreme, denying "CSA" as a meaningful category and recontextualizing it as predominantly non-abusive experiences[1]. It is worth mentioning that child sexual abuse was found to involve physical violence in 1 out of 5 cases[2].

Often, when talking about CSA, people use mixed definitions.


  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys experience sexual abuse before they turn 18[3][4].
  • 40% of CSA is perpetrated by another person below 18[5].
  • Over 30% of perpetrators are family members, only 7% are strangers[6].


News outlets and the general public often use the word "pedophilia" as a synonym for child sexual abuse. Even some of those, who are aware that not all maps commit abuse against children, still believe maps deal with urges that push them towards becoming abusers.

Male victims of CSA, especially the ones with a female perpetrator, are often dismissed and mocked, because it is assumed that boys want sex more than girls and cannot be traumatized by it as much.

According to a popular misconception, sometimes referred to as the "Stranger Danger" myth, strangers pose the biggest risk for children. This point of view lies at the core of demands for more parental control.


  1. Child Sexual Abuse, Newgon Wiki.
  2. Laila Essabar et al. Child sexual abuse: report of 311 cases with review of literature. Pan African Medical Journal. 2015;20:47. doi: 10.11604/pamj.2015.20.47.4569.
  3. Child Sexual Abuse Facts, YWCA USA.
  4. Sexual Violence Statistics, Opening the Circle.
  5. Child Sexual Abuse Statistics, Darkness to Light.
  6. Children and Teens: Statistics, Rainn.