Child sexual abuse crime in the workplace
– One in 500 employees

Number of clients / work computers

Number of alerts in total

Alerts per 500 employees

Number of alerts

513 alerts in total

Calculated on the installation base of 269 370 clients, and over time. Each client represents a work computer with a software installation to detect child sexual abuse material.

Number of alerts per thousand employees

1 (0.95) individuals per 500 employees.


Exclusively male

In all cases where an alert was triggered in the businesses or organisations interviewed, the individual responsible was male. In fewer than a handful of cases the computer that sent the alert belonged to a female employee, however further investigation showed that it was a man close to the woman who had used the computer and triggered the alert.


Most frequently between 30-50 years of age

The individuals who were found to have viewed child sexual abuse material on their work computers range from somewhere in their 20s to pension-age. The interviews showed that there was a certain bias towards individuals between 30-50 years of age, and many stated that the individuals were in their 40s.

Family situation

Slightly more common that the individual is in a relationship and has children

To the extent that employers know about the employee’s family situation, which is not a given, they stated that it is slightly more common that the individual was in a relationship. They stated however that this is also a reflection on how societies operate as whole.

The same line of reasoning is applied to whether the individual has children or not. The employers who have this information state that there is a bias towards individuals who have children.


All professions

With regards to profession and level of responsibility, the response was that it can be anyone from ordinary employees to senior managers, people with a lot of client contact to people with very little contact outside the organisation. This list also includes people who work with children. The alerts were biased towards people with higher academic achievement, however this was believed to be because they more often have a work computer, in many cases a laptop. Many of the businesses and organisations also stated that there is a certain bias towards employees who have a background in technology.

About NetClean ProActive

NetClean ProActive software detects known child sexual abuse material in organisations’ IT environments. It works similar to an antivirus programme, however instead of detecting viruses, NetClean ProActive detects images and films that the police have classified as child sexual abuse material.

NetClean ProActive alerts

NetClean ProActive detects if an individual views child sexual abuse material, with the result that the software sends an alert, either as an email or SMS, to the individual whom the organisation has designated to handle these issues.

Comment on insight 7 and 8:

“Lack of insight and empathy
part of the problem”

Michael Sheath
Manager & Principal Practitioner at
Lucy Faithfull Foundation

Read comment here

Lack of insight and empathy part of the problem

The data in NetClean’s survey echoes my experience of working with men who consume child sexual abuse material. They are “normal” men with an education, family, work and socially functional lives. They are not men who make other people uncomfortable or raise suspicion.

One of the problems that we see in tackling child sexual abuse crime is the demonisation of child sexual offenders. The image of the stereotypical offender focuses people’s attention in the wrong direction; away from the fact that it can be the respectable man with the nice family, the big house and the expensive car who also consumes child sexual abuse material.

Compulsive behaviour

The risks associated with viewing this sort of material in the workplace or on a work computer is indicative of the compulsiveness in these individuals’ behaviour. This is especially evident in cases where employees have viewed child sexual abuse material several times. Taking this risk signals the scale of the compulsion.

There are several additional factors that combined with compulsive behaviour can tip these individuals into viewing child sexual abuse material. One factor is stress, which can trigger the impulse. There is also a proven strong connection between sexual arousal and poor decision making, impulsivity, and a reduction in empathy.

Anonymity is a key driver

I am not surprised that these individuals primarily consume the material away from the workplace and outside of working hours. I am convinced that it has to do with a sense of anonymity. Anonymity is one of the biggest drivers in the consumption of child sexual abuse material. The “logic” behind it is that if one is not caught out, one has not performed the action is question.

Lack of insight and empathy

In my experience most men who view child sexual abuse material don’t understand that they are a part of the problem. They don’t realise that their consumption increases the demand and leads to the sexual abuse of children. Their reasoning is that the abuse has already occurred, it was not their fault that it happened, and they do not contribute to any further harm if they merely view the material.

This lack of insight is connected to the reactions of these individuals when it is discovered that they have viewed child sexual abuse material on their work computer. The strongest reaction is a sense of shame, and not guilt. Most worry solely about what other people will think, and do not consider the harm that their actions have brought to children.

Ultimately, this crime has a close connection to empathy or lack of empathy. Many men genuinely want help to stop viewing child sexual abuse material. The key to this is to get them to understand how much their actions hurt the children who are depicted in the material. It is possible to help some offenders stop if they are helped to understand the consequences of their actions.


Lucy Faithfull Foundation

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is a UK charity which runs the only helpline in the UK for people who have concerns about negative aspects of their sexuality.