What is Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)?

CSA occurs when a child is used by another person for his/her gratification or sexual arousal, or for that of others. Examples of child sexual abuse include:

  • Exposure of the sexual organs or any sexual act intentionally performed in the presence of the child;
  • Intentional touching or molesting of the body of a child whether by a person or object for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification;
  • Masturbation in the presence of the child or the involvement of the child in an act of masturbation;
  • Sexual intercourse with the child, whether oral, vaginal or anal;
  • Sexual exploitation of a child, which includes inciting, encouraging, propositioning, requiring or permitting a child to solicit for, or to engage in, prostitution or other sexual acts.
  • Sexual exploitation also occurs when a child is involved in the exhibition, modelling or posing for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification or sexual act, including its recording (on film, video tape or other media) or the manipulation, for those purposes, of the image by computer or other means.

CSA may also include:

  • Showing sexually explicit material to children, which is often a feature of the ‘grooming’ process by perpetrators of abuse;
  • Consensual sexual activity involving an adult and an underage person. In relation to child sexual abuse, it should be noted that, for the purposes of the criminal law, in Ireland the age of consent to sexual intercourse is 17 years for both boys and girls.

An Garda Síochána will deal with the criminal aspects of the case under the relevant legislation. It should be noted that the definition of CSA presented here is not a legal definition and is not intended to be a description of the criminal offence of sexual assault.

Go to our CSA Frequently Asked Questions Section