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Child abuse

Sexual abuse

Child sexual abuse is when someone persuades or forces a child to take part in sexual activities, or encourages a child to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

It doesn’t necessarily involve physical contact and can also take place online.

Sexual abuse with contact can include sexual touching, whether the child is wearing clothes or not, all penetrative sex and forcing or encouraging a child to take part in sexual activity.

Non-contact abuse involves non-touching activities, which may include grooming, sexual exploitation, engaging in sexual activity in front of a child and making, permitting to take, distributing and showing or advertising indecent images of children.

Find out more from the NSPCC about what defines child sexual abuse.

It’s important to have a good idea of what is normal sexual behaviour so you can spot the warning signs of harmful behaviour or if something might not be quite right. Find out more about sexually harmful behaviour, underage sexual activity and general sexual health, including sexually transmitted infections.

Working Group

The Devon SCP Executive set up a working group to look specifically at the issue of Child Sexual Abuse across the county. The group has four priority aims:

  1. To prevent the sexual abuse of children and young people by raising awareness and understanding across the community amongst adults and children.
  2. To increase the knowledge, skills and confidence of professionals in identifying and responding to child sexual abuse.
  3. To increase the provision of evidence-based therapeutic interventions for children who have been sexually-abused and for children who display harmful sexual behaviours.
  4. To increase our understanding of the strategic and operational responses to child sexual abuse in Devon.

You can view a presentation of the latest Devon SCP review of Child Sexual Abuse here.

Getting help


Information for children and young people about sexual abuse - including what to do and how to tell someone. Children and young people aged under 19 can call the confidential 24 hour helpline or chat online with a counsellor.

0800 1111


Offers advice and information aimed at adults about what to do if you think a child is being sexually abused. Also further guidance about the signs and indicators of sexual abuse and child grooming.

0808 800 5000

Parents Protect

Offers a wealth of information to help parents and carers protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. The Stop it Now! helpline is available for anyone with concerns about child sexual abuse.

0808 1000 900

If you are worried about the safety or wellbeing of a child or young person in Devon,
please complete the request for support online form.


If you think that the child is at risk of significant harm,
contact our Front Door directly by calling 0345 155 1071.


In an emergency call 999.