The more we learn about
this crime, the more powerful
our response can be
The results in this year’s NetClean report are not as clear-cut as in previous reports, where we considered big prevailing trends that showed a marked increase in child sexual abuse material, the level of violence directed at children and challenges derived from technological developments.
In this year’s report we look in more detail at particular topics such as: self-produced material; developments in technologies; how such developments affect the way offenders operate; and the impact that this has on law enforcement investigations. This more detailed look has to a certain extent produced the contradictory result that we see in this report.
My analysis of these results is that we may be looking at two different groups of offenders who consume child sexual abuse material, and the gap between them.
The first group contains the majority of offenders. They are averagely technically astute and mainly consume child sexual abuse material that is readily available on the internet. Even though they might hoard material and exhibit compulsive behaviour around child sexual abuse material, they do not show any significant sophistication when they operate on the internet.
The second, smaller group, consists of offenders that are more sophisticated and very technologically astute. They are probably organised into groups and can use encryption and other technologies to avoid detection. Some might use crypto currencies to buy and sell child sexual abuse material.
The results might indicate that the gap between these two groups is widening. The more advanced offenders are becoming more advanced, organised and sophisticated in their use of technology. This group is probably not growing quickly in size. The other group, represents the big increase in people who consume child sexual abuse material. Their methods, however, remain the same.
This bigger group, consists of people who can be found by involvement from civil society and key figures such as employers. In last year’s report we revealed that there is no such thing as a stereotypical offender who consumes child sexual abuse material, however the data revealed that most are in employment. This makes the workplace a prominent place to identify this type of offender. To build on this, we broadened this year’s report by surveying employers to learn from their insight and experience of finding child sexual abuse in their IT environments. The data shows insight into how child sexual abuse crime is handled in the workplace, and revelations about how offenders react when they are confronted by their employers.
I am convinced that building and sharing knowledge about all aspects of this crime is the key to preventing it. In a world where technology is constantly developing, we need to ensure that we keep up with those developments and share what we know. Technology in itself is not the problem, we just have to use it to our best advantage to prevent crime, safeguard children and stop offenders.
We also need to ensure that there is better general understanding of offenders who abuse, document and consume child sexual abuse material. If we understand what drives them, we can find a way to stop their impulse to offend. More knowledge about the dissemination of material on the internet will aid work to remove images and films, and stop the abuse that generates this material.
I am pleased to introduce the fourth NetClean Report. It adds to the growing knowledge bank worldwide about child sexual abuse, and it brings a unique insight into what law enforcement and employers do to stop this crime.