Understanding Trauma & Violence


Can a nine-year-old unknowingly sexually assault another nine-year-old? Is it considered wrong because they were a child when they did it? Is it even assault if they didn't know what they were doing was wrong?


Thank you so much for asking this question. These are complex and sensitive questions that don't have simple yes or no answers. 

Children at age nine typically do not have a full understanding of sexual behavior or its implications. Their actions are often driven by curiosity, imitation of things they've seen or heard, or sometimes as a response to their own experiences of abuse.

The term "sexual assault" generally implies intent and understanding, which young children may not possess. However, one child's actions can still harm another child, even if unintentionally.

From a legal and developmental perspective, children this young are not considered capable of giving informed consent to sexual activities. This is why any sexual behavior between young children is concerning, regardless of perceived "consent" or lack of malicious intent.

While we generally don't assign the same level of culpability to children as we would to adults, it's still important to address inappropriate sexual behavior in children. This is not about blame, but about ensuring proper education, boundaries, and potentially, intervention.

The impact on the child who experiences unwanted sexual contact can be significant, regardless of the other child's intent or understanding. Their feelings and experiences are valid and may require support and care.

If such a situation occurs, it's crucial to involve trained professionals who can assess the circumstances, provide appropriate interventions for both children, and ensure that any underlying issues (such as possible abuse) are addressed.

Ultimately, the focus should be on education, prevention, and healing, rather than assigning blame. Both children in such a situation would likely benefit from professional support to understand boundaries, consent, and healthy relationships appropriate to their age. These are complex topics. Thank you again for asking this. 

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