Sexual violence against children is committed by someone who uses his authority, physical and mental superiority, as well as ignorance, trust or dependence of the child to satisfy his sexual needs and exercise his power. This does not necessarily have to be accompanied by physical violence. Abuse begins with harassment with obscene language and extends to rape. It includes touching, forcing to touch or sexually manipulate, showing pornographic material or sexual intercourse.
The consequences of sexual violence on the child's physical and psychological development can be very serious and last a lifetime. The children feel helpless, powerless and isolated. They often have a lowered self-esteem and a disturbed self-perception. In addition to school and social problems, disturbed eating behavior, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide attempts and psychosomatic illnesses are among the long-term consequences. In many cases, the traumatic experiences of childhood are not dealt with until adulthood. According to police, the perpetrators of child abuse are mostly not strangers but confidants. About three-quarters of all cases occur among acquaintances or relatives. This is also one of the reasons for the extremely high number of unreported cases. In addition to the family, this happens in environments such as school, community, sports club or other recreational settings. Perpetrators are mostly men and come from all social classes. Victims are minors of all ages up to infants. Section 176 of the criminal code deals with sexual abuse. It provides for imprisonment for this from six months to ten years. According to the Federal Criminal Police Office, in 2008 more than 12.000 cases of sexual abuse against children known. According to the Federal Statistical Office, German courts sentenced 2.472 people for violations of Section 176.