Be Safe: What is Sexual Abuse and How Do I Stay Safe


This resource, part of the Be Safe resource collection, provides information for school-age children with autism about basic information regarding sexual abuse such as what it is, who abuses children, how often it occurs, and why people sexually abuse children.

What is sexual abuse?

  • Someone looks at my private parts (parts covered by a bathing suit)
  • Someone wants me to look at their private parts
  • Someone wants to take pictures or videos of me without my clothes on
  • Someone wants to touch or kiss me on my private parts
  • Someone wants me to touch or kiss them on their private parts

When people do these things, they may tell me that what happened is a secret. It’s not a secret, it’s sexual abuse. My body belongs to me. My private parts are private.

How often does sexual abuse happen?

  • Sexual abuse happens to many children. About 1 in 10 children will be sexually abused. If you have been abused, it’s important to know you’re not alone.
  • Even if it is hard to communicate, always find a way to tell a trusted adult if you are being sexually abused.

Who sexually abuses children?

Most times, people who sexually abuse children are males but females will sometimes also sexually abuse children.
Sometimes, children are abused by strangers but most children are abused by someone they know and trust. This may be:

  • Your mom or dad
  • Your brother or sister
  • Other family members (aunt, uncle, grandparent, cousin)
  • Neighbors
  • Older kids you know
  • Someone who takes care of you
  • Someone who works or volunteers in a place that you visit
  • A friend of the family

Why do people sexually abuse children?

  • They have trouble making friends with people their own age
  • They don’t like themselves very much
  • They think touching private parts is a way to show they care about a child
  • They think sexual abuse doesn’t harm children
  • They don’t understand rules about private parts being private


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This information was developed by the Autism Services, Education, Resources, and Training Collaborative (ASERT). For more information, please contact ASERT at 877-231-4244 or ASERT is funded by the Bureau of Supports for Autism and Special Populations, PA Department of Human Services.