The only clear sign that a child under 5 years old is a victim of sexual violence is a disclosure, a verbalization. No psychological or behavioural symptom can be exclusively linked with sexual violence toward a young child. The following symptoms are common among young children who are victims of sexual violence, but could also be the manifestation of other difficulties in their lives:

  • Sexual behaviour problems.
  • Somatic problems, such as bed-wetting and stool soiling of underwear.
  • Anxiety.
  • Social isolation behaviours.
  • Developmental delays.

Sexual violence toward a young child may include one or more types of sexual acts or activities:

  • Fondling (breasts, thighs, buttocks, penis, vulva, anus).
  • Sexual kisses (tongue kisses).
  • Masturbation.
  • Oral-genital contact (mouth contact with the private parts).
  • Penetration or attempted penetration (vaginal or anal with the penis, fingers or objects).
  • Sexual exploitation.
  • Other activities of a sexual nature.
  • Exhibitionistic behaviour (when someone shows their private parts in public).
  • Voyeuristic behaviour (when someone watches a person or group of people who are naked or in private).
  • Exposure to pornography.