Sexual Abuse Law and Legal Definition

Sexual abuse is the use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or any simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing any visual depiction of such conduct; or rape, and in cases of caretaker or inter-familial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children. Laws and classification of offenses vary by state law. Local laws should be consulted for specific requirements in your area.

The oldest federal agency for children, the Children's Bureau (CB) is located within the US Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, Administration on Children, Youth and Families. It is responsible for assisting states in the delivery of child welfare services - services designed to protect children and strengthen families. The agency provides grants to states, tribes and communities to operate a range of child welfare services including child protective services (child abuse and neglect) family preservation and support, foster care, adoption and independent living.

As the federal agency responsible for helping states to improve the well being of children and youth, the Children's Bureau assists states in establishing guidelines to make their own laws to protect abused and neglected children. They have no authority, however, to intervene in individual child abuse and neglect cases. Many states have a toll free number to call to report suspected abuse.