New report highlights importance of fighting child sexual abuse material
New report highlights how important the fight against the dissemination of child sexual abuse material really is.
A new study*, published in Sweden this February, reveals that children suffer just as much, if not more, from sexual abuse that happens online as they do from abuse that happens offline. The trauma is even more severe if the sexual abuse is documented and the images disseminated on the internet. This highlights how important it is to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material on the internet and help the children depicted in the images as soon as possible.
It is common knowledge that children that are sexually abused suffer from severe post traumatic symptoms. However, the report shares a unique and new insight into how children are affected by online sexual crime. Perhaps surprisingly, it shows that children that have suffered from online sexual abuse, are even more traumatised than those that have been physically abused.
It is worse if abuse is documented and disseminated
On an ascending scale, the research shows that children who have been sexually abused are even more traumatised if they know that the abuse has been documented. The trauma is further accelerated if they also know that the images have been disseminated online.
This may seem an obvious conclusion, but is an important one, because it highlights just how important it is to fight the dissemination of child sexual abuse material, in order to limit revictimisation. The knowledge of whether the material is or is not being distributed around the world, has a direct impact on the well-being of victimised children. Detecting and blocking child sexual abuse material and websites that are known to contain child sexual abuse material, is not only important to stop access and drive demand, it is of the outmost importance to the children in those images.
Different types of vulnerability and Post Traumatic Stress
* See original graph on page 49 in the report (In Swedish)
Reacting to abuse
The findings in the report also highlight how important it is to find the victimised children and help them as quickly as possible. The cost of their well-being, although it may sound cynical, is also a very real cost to society, and especially so for local authorities and municipalities that are directly responsible for children in their area. With help, children can overcome their trauma and become well-functioning individuals. This pro-active approach develops and drives the fight against sexual abuse being shared online, and strengthens the fight against all child sexual abuse. And where NetClean continues to advocate for businesses to live up to their values by engaging in the fight, we also stress that Local Authorities benefit from investing in a similar way in the children they care for.
It is cost effective to be pro-active. It is effective in terms of the monetary cost of long-term treatment, and most importantly, in terms of sparing some of the most vulnerable people in society from being marked by trauma.
*Report: Barn utsatta för sexuella övergrepp på nätet [translation: Child victims of sexual abuse online]
Authors: Linda Jonsson and Carl Göran Svedin.
Linda Jonsson is Senior Lecturer at Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine (IKE) and Barnafrid at Linköping University in Sweden.
Carl Göran Svedin is Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry with special focus on Child Physical and Sexual Abuse, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Linköping University in Sweden.
You can read the report here (in Swedish).