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Sexual Abuse: Knowing About Sex at Too Young an Age - Topic Overview

A child may have knowledge of sex that isn't appropriate for the child's age. This may be expressed by the amount of detail a child gives about sexual acts that should not be familiar to him or her. For example, a 3-year-old child should not be able to describe in detail what happens during sexual intercourse. Young children who have firsthand knowledge of sexual acts likely have been sexually abused or have been exposed to sexual activity. This exposure can be an enticed or forced witnessing of sexual behavior. It may happen in person or through media sources, such as pornographic videos.

When a young child acts in a way that shows an awareness of sexuality or asks questions about sex that are far too advanced for his or her age, consider it a warning sign of sexual abuse.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: November 14, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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