Department of Child Protection Child Protection: Mandatory Reporting Training Site



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Indicators of child sexual abuse

What are possible indicators of child sexual abuse?
Indicators of child sexual abuse include, but are not limited to:
•   Sexualised behaviours inappropriate to their age (including a child sexually touching other      
     children and themselves).
•   A child’s knowledge of sexual behaviour inappropriate to their age.
•   A child’s disclosure of sexual abuse either directly or indirectly through drawings, play or writing  
     that describes abuse.
•   Pain or bleeding in the anal or genital area with redness or swelling.
•   Fear of being alone with a particular person.
•   If the child or young person implies that he/she is required to keep secrets.
•   Presence of a sexually transmitted infection.
•   Sudden unexplained fears.
•   Enuresis and/or encopresis (bedwetting and bed soiling).

Each situation needs to be considered on its own merits. It is possible that none of these indicators may be present, yet a reporter still has the basis for a reasonable belief. Similarly, one indicator may be sufficient, or on other occasions it may be more than one.

Mandatory reporters should consider contextual elements in determining if a situation is abusive, such as the role of coercion or unequal power in a relationship that is claimed to be consensual or socially sanctioned. This is particularly important in relation to sexual behaviour between children. The respective ages of the children, developmental level and the nature of the relationship are important considerations.

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