There is a correlation between viewing child sexual abuse material and hands-on child sexual abuse

There is a wide debate to what extent the correlation exists between viewing and disseminating child sexual abuse material and hands-on child sexual abuse. In last year’s report Michael Bourke, from US Marshals, pointed to several studies that show that the correlation between these crimes is somewhere between 50-85 percent. We asked the police officers in the survey how often they find that someone who is suspected of viewing child sexual abuse material is also suspected of sexually abusing children. 30 percent answered ‘it is common’, ‘it is very common’ or ‘most cases’. Only one percent answered that ‘there is no correlation’. Fifty percent answered that only ‘occasionally’ do they find that the suspect has also abused a child, while 20 percent said that it was ‘rare’.

The police officers who commented on this questions highlighted that they would find a higher correlation, uncover that offenders who had viewed child sexual abuse material had also sexually abused children, if they were tasked to look for evidence of abuse.

“But with that said I feel with more time allowed and other investigation techniques this would be much more common. I think a lot of victims go unidentifiable because of this.”

“I think this is more frequent, but we either don’t look deep enough to find the victims, the victims don’t want to talk, or the victims are not known to law enforcement.”

“It’s all up to the quality of the investigations and the level of invested time in the seized material if this is revealed or not. I think we are missing some hands-on abusers.”

COMMENTS ON INSIGHT 4

Two points of view

Michael L. Bourke, Ph.D., Chief, Behavioural Analysis Unit, United States Marshals Service.

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Hanna Harnesk Hjortsberg, Reg. Psychologist, works at Skogome Prison and with policy development at the Swedish Prison and Probation Service

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More insights from the report

DEVELOPMENT OF TECHNOLOGY – BOTH A CHALLENGE AND AN OPPORTUNITY

THE “NORMAL CASE”: FEWER THAN 50,000–500,000 IMAGES

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TYPICAL OFFENDER (Consumer of child sexual abuse material)

THERE IS A CORRELATION BETWEEN VIEWING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE MATERIAL AND ABUSING CHILDREN

THE OFFENDER IS MOST LIKELY TO VICTIMISE CLOSE FAMILY MEMBERS OR RELATIVES

CSAM IS VIEWED 24-HOURS A DAY, THROUGHOUT THE WEEK – INCLUDING HOURS SPENT IN THE WORK PLACE

TRENDS: THE USE OF CHATROOMS AND APPS IS INCREASING

TRENDS: THE USE OF ANONYMISATION TECHNOLOGIES, ENCRYPTION AND CLOUD STORAGE IS INCREASING

THOUGHTS ON THE REPORT

“To eradicate child sexual abuse we need more resources, and, most importantly, they need to be applied in the right way.”