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Child-on-Child Sexual Assault (COCSA)

What is COCSA?

Child-on-Child sexual abuse refers to instances where a minor engages in sexual activities with another minor. This form of abuse can manifest in various ways, and the struggles associated with it include:

Power Imbalance: Despite both individuals being minors, there may still be a significant power imbalance, making it difficult for the victim to assert themselves.

Impact on Development: Child-on-Child sexual abuse can have profound effects on the emotional, psychological, and social development of both the victim and the perpetrator.

Secrecy and Shame: Victims often experience feelings of shame and guilt, and the secrecy surrounding the abuse can hinder their ability to seek help or disclose the situation.

It’s important to note that child-on-child sexual abuse is a complex issue, and addressing it requires sensitivity, support, and intervention from appropriate professionals.

Conversations and Culture Around COCSA

COCSA is a very intense and complex subject and one that, therefore, needs to be discussed. Unfortunately, due to the complexity and discomfort around the subject, it’s been treated oppositely for far too long and has been pushed under the rug by society. 

Here are just a few of the reasons that COCSA can be so complex compared to other SA cases – both for victims, perpetrators, and others in the children’s lives…

TRIGGER WARNING: The following talks about reasons why perpetrators of SA in these specific COCSA scenarios might not be fully to blame. This could be incredibly triggering and is a very complex and hard subject. Please read only when stable and ready to read. Remember this ONLY applies to specific scenarios and is very specific to COCSA and very specific to specific scenarios of COCSA – most of the scenarios we’re discussing here are likely to happen during very young (4-10) ages as well, and potentially by children who are victims of adults who are abusing them. 

  • It’s common for there not to be a clear “bad guy” or someone easy to place the blame on – at least in comparison to non-COCSA SA cases. Oftentimes, the child perpetrator has been a victim themselves by an adult in their life and is acting on what they’ve learned. 
  • If the child is extremely young, they might not know what they are doing. They also may not know how to gauge others’ reactions when someone is uncomfortable and when they need to stop or may be causing harm to someone.

None of this means that the victim of COCSA is ever wrong in being angry or blaming their abuser.



  • Fergusson, D. M., Lynskey, M. T., & Horwood, L. J. (1996). Childhood sexual abuse and psychiatric disorder in young adulthood: II. Psychiatric outcomes of childhood sexual abuse. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(10), 1365-1374.
  • Kendall-Tackett, K., Williams, L., & Finkelhor, D. (1993). Impact of sexual abuse on children: A review and synthesis of recent empirical studies. Psychological Bulletin, 113(1), 164-180.
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