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Community Health: Education, Prevention and Inspiration

Empowering people to make healthy, respectful and responsible choices.

Child Sexual Abuse

Posted by Tammi A. Tannura -

Protecting children from sexual abuse is a concern for every parent. The goal of teaching children about sexual abuse is to increase their ability to recognize abuse without giving them the idea that they are responsible for keeping themselves safe.

Defining Child Sexual Abuse

The Darkness to Light Organization defines child sexual abuse in 4 distinct ways:

1. any sexual act between an adult and a minor or between 2 minors when one exerts power over the other;

2. forcing, coercing or persuading a child to engage in any type of sexual act. This includes sexual contact, non-contact acts such as exhibitionism (intentionally exposing one's sexual parts to a child), exposure to pornography, voyeurism ("peeping Tom"), and communicating in a sexual manner by phone or Internet;

3. an agonizing and traumatic experience for its victims

4. a crime punishable by law.

"Good Touch-Bad Touch" versus "OK Touch-Not OK Touch"

Some adults may still remember the 'good touch-bad touch' talk they heard in school from their teacher, school social worker, or from their parents. Some adults may never have heard that message, but somehow learned it on their own.

Today, some sexuality educators suggest that the terminology of 'good touch-bad touch' can be confusing for children. By teaching children that 'bad touch' is when they are touched on sexual parts of their body (or the part of their body that a bathing suit covers), it sends a message that their sexual body parts are 'bad'. Children may interpret this as any touch on their sexual parts is bad. Also, what if a child experiences a 'bad touch' that feels good? Children may be confused with the language and not report the abuse because it felt 'good'.

One suggestion to cut down on the confusion is to replace 'good touch' and 'bad touch' with 'OK touch' and 'not OK touch', respectively. 

For more information, go to the Darkness to Light: End Child Sexual Abuse website at


  • Darkness to Light: End Child Sexual Abuse (2013).  Retrieved on July 23, 2013 from


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