What is child sexual abuse?
Understanding what child sexual abuse is, how it occurs, and how to create safer environments for children and young people is an important step in preventing it.
Help is available if you or someone you know has experienced, are experiencing, or are concerned a child or young person may be at risk of harm including child sexual abuse. If you need assistance or support, our Get support page provides a list of dedicated services. If you need information or resources for reporting child safety concerns, please visit our Make a report page.
If you or a child are in immediate danger, call Triple Zero (000).
Child sexual abuse can occur within families, by other people the child or young person knows or does not know, in organisations and online. For the purpose of this definition, children and young people are those under the age of 18.
The National Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Child Sexual Abuse 2021-2030 provides a framework for federal, state and territory governments to address child sexual abuse in all settings. You can read the National Strategy for more information about child sexual abuse and what we’re doing to keep children and young people safe.
Child sexual abuse: Get the facts
Get the facts
This fact sheet provides information and statistics to learn more about child sexual abuse. It helps to dispel common myths and misconceptions, and help people understand the role they can play in protecting children and young people.
Child sexual abuse is any act that exposes a child or young person to, or involve a child or young person in, sexual activities that:
- they do not understand
- they do not or cannot consent to
- are not accepted by the community
- are unlawful.
Victims and survivors are those who have experienced child sexual abuse. The Australian Government recognises that not all people with lived experience of child sexual abuse will identify with these terms. Victims and survivors of child sexual abuse come from all walks of life.
Visit the Bravehearts website for more information about child sexual abuse. Their information and support line is also available on 1800 272 831.
The Raising Children Network website also contains information for parents about child sexual abuse.
1 Mathews B, Pacella RE, Scott JG, et al 2023, The prevalence of child maltreatment in Australia: findings from a national survey, The Medical Journal of Australia, 218
3 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse 2017, Final Report: Private sessions – Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse Volume 5, page 384
4 Higgins DJ, Mathews B, Pacella R, et al 2023, The prevalence and nature of multi- type child maltreatment in Australia, The Medical Journal of Australia, 218