Child abuse

The definition of child abuse and the types of behaviours and acts against children that we investigate.

Child abuse relates to illegal behaviour, act or acts against children and are considered serious crimes by Victoria Police.

Our ongoing commitment is to support child abuse victims and hold perpetrators to account.

What defines child abuse

Child abuse is defined as an act or omission that endangers a child's physical or emotional health or development.

Types of behaviours considered child abuse

Child abuse can occur both in person or online and can take many forms, including:

Child abuse may occur through one incident or may have continued over time.

It can be a recent or a historical (past) case of child abuse. Sometimes the victim will now be an adult.

Child abuse is a very serious crime and all children have the right to protection under the law.

Who commits child abuse

Child abuse crimes can be committed by anyone, including family members.

Child abuse can occur anywhere.

There is no time limit to report child abuse

It is never too late to report a case of child abuse.

We respond to all reports of crimes against children, no matter when they occurred. 

A child under the age of 16 cannot give consent therefore any sexual activity is automatically considered abuse. Consent is a voluntary agreement between people to engage in any sexual activity. 

In Victoria, the age of consent is 16 years old. 

Learn more about consent and sexual activity.

Possession of child abuse material

Possessing, accessing, producing, and distributing child abuse material are all criminal offences in Victoria.

An intimate image that depicts a person under the age of 18 years also meets the definition of child abuse material.

Learn more about image-based sexual offending.

Sextortion (sexual extortion) scams

Sextortion is when someone tricks or blackmails you into sending them sexual or intimate images or videos that can then be used to exploit, bully or harass.

These scams often target children and young people. 

Learn more about sextortion scams and how to report them.

Indecent exposure/sexual exposure of genitalia to children

Sexual exposure of genitalia is the deliberate exposure of private body parts in public. It is sometimes known as flashing or indecent exposure.

Deliberate public exposure and masturbation in public is a crime.

Accidental exposure does not constitute a criminal offense.

Where sexual exposure laws apply

Sexual exposure can happen if it is seen from a public place, even if it is not committed in a public place.

Image-based sexual offending and children

Learn more about image based sexual offending.

How to report child abuse

Report a recent or historical (past) case of child abuse to Victoria Police on our Report child abuse page.

How to report a sexual offence

Report a recent or historical (past) sexual offence to Victoria Police on our Report a sexual offence page.