Sexual activities can generally be classified into three forms of sexual actions: genital interactions, non-genital interactions and masturbation. This includes talking about sex, looking at images to become aroused and touching or stimulating your own body or someone else’s for sexual pleasure. All behaviours that are sexually motivated can be considered as sexual behaviours. A behaviour is sexually motivated when it is intended to increase sexual arousal, cause pleasure or prepare for sexual activity.
Problematic behaviour is defined as “a sexual expression of a failure to conform to social norms,” regardless of whether that failure is prosecuted or subject to prosecution. This includes disregarding the normally allowable interests of a partner. More specifically, sexual behaviour is considered to be problematic if it violates the integrity and autonomy of another individual or if it involves non‑ consenting individuals. These kinds of behaviours have the potential to not only be harmful but may also have relevant legal consequences. An individual could be non‑ consenting because the ability to give consent to a sexual activity is not given or possible, either due to lack of knowledge or to being underage. For example, secretly installing a webcam in a woman’s bedroom to watch her while she engages in sexual contact with a partner or masturbates demonstrates that informed consent is not possible, because the “partner” is unaware of the circumstances and therefore unable to give permission.
In general, adults are equal sexual partners as long as their physical, mental and economic situation allows them to make an independent, free and unconstrained decision to participate in a sexual interaction. Concerning the age of consent emphasized the difference between “simple consent” and informed consent. “Simple consent” may occur when a child appears to consent passively or even appears cooperative. Informed consent refers to the psychological inability or immaturity of a child to clearly understand and thus agree to participate in sexual activities. It is not possible for a minor to be an equal sexual partner because he or she cannot fully comprehend the content, performance and consequences of sexual behaviours.
Every non‑ consenting sexual behaviour is considered to be a direct sexual assault. Every depiction of a non‑ consenting sexual behaviour is considered to be an indirect sexual assault.
Besides just the legal criteria it is important to evaluate your individual concept of what constitutes problematic sexual behaviours towards children. Furthermore, it may be helpful to consider who commits sexual assaults against minors – it could be males or females across a range of social backgrounds and age groups. There are various motivations for sexual assaults against minors, such as a substitute for sexual contact with a consenting adult partner, a mental disability, sexual development problems or a paedophilic or hebephilic sexual preference.
Remember that children are never under any circumstances able to agree to participate in any sexual activity with an adult.
Without consent an act becomes a sexual assault. This can occur if
- the other cannot give his/her consent because he/she does not know about the content, execution and consequences of a sexual activity or is not able to understand them.
- the other actively disagrees.
Sexual activities involving children
Problematic sexual behaviours towards children with a prepubescent or pubescent body scheme include (but are not limited to) the following sexual activities:
- Sexually motivated observations in intimate situations, known as voyeuristic activities.
- Sexually motivated touching or fondling outside of the genital area, whether clothed or not.
- Using child sexual abuse images for own sexual stimulation and/or producing or distributing these.
- Sexual grooming of children via the internet (chat rooms, etc.) or in direct contact situations.
- Exposing of genitals with and without masturbation, known as exhibitionistic activities.
- Demanding a child to receive sexual stimulation.
- Demanding a child to sexually stimulate him – or herself.
- Carrying out sexual manipulation and stimulation of a child.
- Penetration with the penis, tongue, finger or object into a child’s mouth, vagina or anus.
- The production of child sexual abuse images, with any of the above mentioned sexual activities involving or in front of children.
- Talking about sexual topics to get sexually aroused in the presence of a child.
- Showing depictions of pornographic content to get sexually aroused in the presence of a child.
Masturbating to sexual fantasies about children is not a problematic sexual behaviour. However, a sexual offense against a child constitutes problematic sexual behaviour and occurs as a direct result of a conscious decision made by an adult.
The use of child sexual abuse images (child pornography)
Child sexual abuse images used for sexual stimulation are classified qualitatively in categories of severity. There is no “safe category.” Although an image may be produced under non-abusive conditions, the depicted child is unable to give consent to the use of his or her image for the purpose of sexual arousal. The individual choosing to look at the image is responsible for his or her own actions and for the consequences to the portrayed child:
Childrens’ faces or children shown non-erotically either fully clothed or in underwear, swimsuits, etc. (pictures from commercial sources, family albums, etc.)
Naked children in swimming areas, medical settings or provocative depictions of partially clothed children in underwear, swimsuits, transparent dresses, etc.
Nudist – naked or semi-naked children (pictures from legitimate sources)
Erotica – children in underwear or varying degrees of nakedness (surreptitiously taken pictures)
Posing – children posing either fully dressed, partially clothed or completely naked
Children in sexual or provocative poses
Explicit Erotic Posing
Depictions of posing children emphasizing genital and/or anal area
Explicit Sexual Activities
Sexual activities amongst children that do not involve an adult, such as touching, mutual or self-masturbation or oral/anal/vaginal penetrative sex
Children involved in sexual activities with an adult, involving direct contact such as touching, mutual or self-masturbation or oral/anal/vaginal penetrative sex
Sadism and Bestiality
Bondage, rape, gang-bang or physical injury inflicted upon children, such as being tied, bound, beaten, whipped, etc. or children being involved in some form of sexual behaviour with an animal
There is a wide variety of sexual activities that can be engaged in with mutual agreement from consenting adults. It is important to understand and remember that sexual activities are most enjoyable when partners agree to what they are doing and no harm is inflicted.