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What is Child Sexual Abuse?

Child Sexual Abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse. Sexual abuse can take place online, and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 (Department for Education)

What should I do if I have concerns about Child Sexual Abuse?

If you are concerned about Child Sexual Abuse you can find more information in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Children Board Child Sexual Abuse Strategy and Multi-agency Safeguarding Procedures.


The CPSCB multi-agency training programme includes courses about Child Sexual Abuse.

Tools to help assess Child Sexual Behaviours

Professionals who work with children and young people often struggle to identify which sexual behaviours are potentially harmful and which represent healthy sexual development.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Children Partnership Board have developed a tool to support professionals working with children and young people by helping them to identify and respond appropriately to sexual behaviours.

The tool categorises the sexual behaviours of young people and is designed to help professionals:

  • Make decisions about safeguarding children and young people
  • Assess and respond appropriately to sexual behaviour in children and young people
  • Understand healthy sexual development and distinguish it from harmful behaviour

By categorising sexual behaviours, professionals across different agencies can work to the same standardised criteria when making decisions and can protect children and young people with a unified approach.

Click here to access to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Child Sexual Behaviours Assessment Tool

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Safeguarding Partnership Board have produced a virtual briefing on using our local child sexual behaviour assessment tool

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The Elms SARC

The Elms Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) offers free support and practical help to anyone in Cambridgeshire who has experienced sexual abuse and
sexual violence. If you would like to speak to someone they are available 24/7 on 0800 193 5434 or you can contact them via their website.


  • The NSPCC collect national statistics about Child Sexual Abuse that show the numbers of children and young people who have reported abuse and have resources for professionals.
  • The Underwear Rule – Resources from the NSPCC – Teach your child the Underwear Rule and help protect them from abuse. It’s a simple way that parents can help keep children safe from sexual abuse – without using scary words or even mentioning sex.
  • Preventing child sexual abuse film – explores the steps we can take to keep children safe by thinking through the potential risks in children’s daily lives and taking action to protect them.
  • Making a Noise – The NSPCC and University of Bedfordshire have published a report looking at children’s experiences of help seeking and support after sexual abuse in the family. They have also released a short animation to help practitioners gain insight into the feelings and perspectives of affected children.


The Children’s Commissioner for England 

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