Differences Between Child Molestation and Sexual Abuse 

Sex crimes against children take many forms and have various definitions. While the phrases “child molestation” and “child sexual abuse” may be used interchangeably, there are key differences that separate them as two different crimes on a legal level in Kansas – with different penalties for perpetrators. Learn this distinction if you are a parent, guardian or another concerned adult who suspects one of these crimes against children in your family or community. 

Key Differences Between Child Molestation and Child Sexual abuse  

 Child molestation and child sexual abuse are two different crimes in Kansas. Child molestation generally refers to a single act of sexual contact with a minor, while child sexual abuse refers to a pattern of sexual assault over a period of time. Child molestation is also used more often to refer to crimes against younger children, such as infants, while child sexual abuse refers to sex crimes against older children and adolescents.

 According to Kansas Statutes Annotated (KSA) Section 38-2202(gg), sexual abuse refers to any type of contact or interaction with a child with the purpose of sexual stimulation of the perpetrator, child or a third party. While Kansas does not have a law specifically defining child molestation, it does have one for Indecent Liberties With a Child. Under KSA Section 21-5506, this is the crime of engaging in lewd fondling or touching with a child between the ages of 14 and 16, done with the intent to arouse or satisfy the sexual desires of the child or offender.

Examples of Child Molestation and Sexual Abuse 

 Child sexual abuse and molestation can include, but are not limited to, the following crimes against any child under the age of 18 in Kansas:

  • Touching or fondling a child’s private parts (or a female’s breasts)
  • Causing the child to touch or fondle another person
  • Sexual intercourse
  • Rape or attempted rape
  • Sodomy or anal penetration
  • Oral penetration
  • Indecent exposure or voyeurism
  • Child pornography
  • Human sex trafficking

 Whether or not a child consents to sexual activity is irrelevant. Sexual contact with a child can constitute sexual abuse, assault or child molestation regardless of consent since minors cannot legally give their consent in Kansas.

Signs to Look Out for in Children Suffering Molestation or Sexual Abuse

If you are in contact with a child in Kansas as a teacher, parent, priest or clergy, guardian, coach or another adult, it is important to be on the lookout for possible signs of child molestation or sexual abuse. While these signs can change from case to case, they often include:

  • Physical: Frequent or unexplained injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, unexplained bleeding or bruising in the genital area, and bloody undergarments or bedclothes.
  • Behavioral: Signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares or bed-wetting, regression, outbursts, inappropriate sexual behaviors, withdrawal from others or activities, refusing to bathe or change clothes, changes in appetite, substance abuse, teen pregnancy, and self-harm.
  • Emotional: Depression, anxiety, excessive worry, anger or irritability, fear of a certain person or place, diminished self-esteem or self-confidence, changes in personality, and lost interest in school or activities.

Keep in mind that these signs can change based on the age of the child, the severity of the crime and other factors. Some children exhibit multiple signs of sexual abuse, while others don’t exhibit any signs – but may come forward with verbal reports of sexual abuse. In either situation, report potential sex crimes against children to authorities in Kansas immediately.

What to Do if You Suspect Child Molestation or Sexual Abuse in Kansas

 If you suspect that a child you know is being sexually abused or has been molested, report it right away to the proper authorities. In an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, contact the Kansas Department for Children and Families, also known as the Kansas Protection Report Center, at (800) 922-5330 to file a report. If you are a mandated reporter – such as a teacher or health care professional – you can also file your report online. You will need basic information about the child and his or her situation.

 For further information and advice about child sexual abuse, call the national RAINN hotline at (800) 656-4673 to chat with a trained professional. When you are ready to discuss your legal rights as the parent or guardian of a sexually abused child, contact DRZ Law for a confidential consultation.

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