The material is becoming more severe and victims are getting younger
No parent would want to see their child hurt or in despair. Yet, thousands of children are being sexually abused every single day. They may be living in foreign countries far far away, being trafficked across the seas, or sitting next door to you in your neighbourhood.
In the 2015 NetClean report, which surveyed 368 police officers worldwide, we learnt that 43 per cent of respondents say that violence against children recorded in the images and videos seized by police has become more severe in the last three years. Only one per cent say the images have become less violent. Equally distressing is the fact that the victims are getting younger and younger.
Children have become a commodity
Of those surveyed, one police officer said that they have come across “more ‘hands on’ offenders who are creating images and videos themselves.” Another officer suggested that “currently the demand for material is the greatest problem, which ultimately requires access to children. As a consequence, the child has become a commodity.”
Cecilia Wallin-Carlsson from the Swedish Police, National Operative Department NOA, added:
“During the investigations, we are still seeing copies of the same, known material, but there is also more and more, newly produced and more severe material, often with younger victims. It may be the case that these people are no longer satisfied with the known material, instead they want new material with other or new forms of abuse.
“In many interrogations, the suspects say that they started once upon a time by looking at images containing nudity but, over time, this was not enough, instead they started to search for increasingly severe images and videos. And, the demand is steering what’s on offer.”
Is there a way out?
If the spike in demand is the cause for more severe crimes, how can we stop the spread of child sexual abuse material? Should we offer treatment to abusers to help them rehabilitate and stop further abuse from happening?
Hanna Harnesk, a registered psychologist who works at the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, explained how the mind of a child abuse criminal works and what we can do to help them:
“For an individual perpetrator, this may be a ‘de-sensitisation process’, where the content tends to become successively more extreme and the perpetrator increasingly tolerant of different images or videos. In the same way, there are few offenders who start by looking at child sexual abuse material. Instead, it is not unusual that offenders start by consuming adult pornography, which by degrees goes over to include material depicting child sexual abuse as well. It is not rare for there to be strong compulsive link to the consumption of child sexual abuse material.
“These individuals view the child as an object, and do not think of the child as a real child capable of feelings and suffering. Objectifying the child is one way for the perpetrator to make the exploitation possible. There can be many motivations. For example, psychological motivations are sexual deviance and sexual preoccupation, emotional loneliness or other difficulties in intimate relationships.
“Searching for satisfaction on the web can be one way to obtain sexual satisfaction free from any relationship. There is also a constant demand for new material, and there may also be a profit motive. Some of the people who share material containing child sexual abuse also say that they gain satisfaction from satisfying the needs and sexual preferences of others. In the network and through his actions, the individual becomes important and obtains a position.
“Revealing and bringing attention to what is happening is clearly extremely important for the victims, but also for society to take legal proceedings and target actions to reduce the risk of new crimes. Treating the offender with empathy, despite his actions, is of the utmost importance for the possibility and acceptance of treatment later on.”
Read the full NetClean Report 2015 to find out about the 11 unbelievable truths in child sexual abuse crimes.