Child abuse: Unconscious bias – who is the typical child sex abuser?

Child abuse: Unconscious bias – who is the typical child sex abuser?

Posted on Feb 19, 2016

Child abuse: Unconscious bias – who is the typical child sex abuser?



The definition of child abuse given by the NSPCC is:

“Child abuse is any action by another person – adult or child – that causes significant harm to a child. It can be physical, sexual or emotional, but can just as often be about lack of love, care and attention (neglect).”


Did you notice anything about that sentence?


There is no mention of age or gender. 

A common misconception of child abusers is that they are male strangers, when in fact women, teenagers and other children commit child sex abuse too. 


There is no typical type of abuser; they come from all backgrounds.

Sexual abusers can be very deceptive.  They can groom not only the children but also others around them, persuading them they are upstanding citizens. 

Colleagues, neighbours and friends are more than often surprised that the person they know could be an abuser.

To read more about the possible signs of child neglect, emotional abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse click on the following links:

the possible signs of child physical abuse

the possible signs of child neglect

the possible signs of child emotional abuse

the possible signs of child sexual abuse

Action to take if you suspect child abuse


If you suspect child abuse, don’t ignore it. Report it to your manager/safeguarding lead immediately.

If your organisation doesn't have one, consider contacting children’s social care or the police on 999

At flick we offer affordable child protection training that covers what child abuse is, how it affects child development, what to do and how to react to a disclosure, how to report concerns and what your legal duty and responsibility is as someone who works with children and young people. 


free posters on: what are the signs of child abuse?


Our level 2 accredited child protection course covers key points from: 


  • Working together to safeguard children (2015) in England
  • Safeguarding children: working together under the Children Act 2004 in Wales
  • National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland (2014)
  • Co-operating to safeguarding children (2003) in Northern Ireland
  • Keeping Children Safe in Education (2019). 


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