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Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)

Child sexual abuse is when a child or young person under 18 years of age is forced or coerced to engage in sexual activity for the gratification/arousal of another.

It is important to remember, that any child is at risk of being sexually abused and both boys and girls can be sexually abused. It is also not exclusive to one class, culture, or society. In fact, it happens to children in every kind of family and community regardless of age, gender or race. Sexual abuse can be experienced in person or online. Children can be sexually abused by someone known to them or by a stranger. This can also happen online.

When a person/adult engages with a child in a sexual way they are committing a crime which without appropriate therapeutic supports can have long lasting effects on the child/adolescent.

What Does the Term Child Sexual Abuse Cover?

Child sexual abuse includes but is not limited to the following:

  • Exposing oneself to a minor
  • Fondling
  • Masturbation – forcing a child/teenager to watch or forcing the child to masturbate
  • Explicit sexual conversations, phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction
  • Producing, owning, or sharing pornographic images or movies of children
  • Sex of any kind with a child/teenager, including vaginal, oral, or anal
  • Sex trafficking
  • Any other contact of a sexual nature that involves a child/teenager.
  • Exposing a child/adolescent to sexual contact between others in real life or exposing them to pornagraphic material in print or media. 

The Impact of Sexual Abuse

Children/teenagers who experience child sexual abuse can have short and long-term effects.

  • Feelings of shame and guilt
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Hypervigilance
  • Difficulties in concentration
  • Eating disorders and/or obsessive behaviours
  • Post-traumatic stress and difficulties coping with stress
  • Self-harm, suicidal thoughts and suicide
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Confusion and problems in relationships with family members, friends and partners.

Reporting Sexual Abuse

If you are concerned that a child is in danger of being abused, reporting is paramount. Children and teenagers need to be able to live in a world free from the threat and harm of sexual abuse. You can report your concerns and leave it to experts to follow up. Make your report to:


You can report your concern to TUSLA by contacting your local Duty Social work team here.


An Garda Síochána has a dedicated phone line for the reporting of child sexual abuse. The phone line number is 1800 555 222. You can find out more here.

CARI Helpline 0818 924567:

The CARI Helpline is the first point of contact and support for any person or professional who has concerns about or is affected by child sexual abuse or sexualised behaviour. The Helpline is open from: Monday – Friday 9.00am – 5.00pm. Find out more here about the CARI Helpline.