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Sexual abuse and misconduct (SAM)

Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse. Other forms of child abuse include neglect, physical abuse, and emotional abuse.

Child sexual abuse is a crime.  It occurs when an adult, adolescent, or another child engages “sexually” with a child.

Sexual activity may include intercourse, touching, and other forms of sexual stimulation but can include exhibitionism, voyeurism, and making pornography.

Any sexual act against a child’s will is abuse and a crime in every State. That said, controversy exists around the concept of consent. Specifically, can a child ever consent to sexual activity with an adult?

A small minority argue that children, particularly older children, can provide informed consent to sexual activity no matter who the partner is.  Most however believe that children are not developmentally able to provide informed consent to such activity, especially when it involves sex with a mature adult or adolescent. 

Though each State determines when a person can provide such informed consent, a typical age of consent is between 16 and 18 years of age.  A person who has sex with a person who is younger than the permitted age of consent is guilty of rape in either the first or second degree.

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