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Grooming, child abuse, child sexual exploitation material

A Comparative Content Analysis of Pre-Internet and Contemporary Child Sexual Abuse Material

Full Article Title: A Comparative Content Analysis of Pre-Internet and Contemporary Child Sexual Abuse Material.

Open Access: No

 

Abstract

Child sexual abuse material is now recognized as a major social problem, however prior to the internet, disclosures of victimization in abuse material were the subject of skeptical scholarly commentary. The veracity of this skeptical position has been subject to limited empirical scrutiny. The aim of this study is to analyze the content of a sample of 1004 images of pre-internet abuse material. The pre-internet sample was analyzed according to the characteristics of victim/s, perpetrator/s and severity and setting of  abuse, which were then compared to a preexisting dataset of 34,561 contemporary abuse images. The findings of the study underscore the severity of pre-internet abuse material. The comparison between the  pre-internet and contemporary sample found that the average age of girls abused in abuse material has decreased, and the severity of the material has increased. The study highlights the significant abuse experienced by abuse material victims prior to the internet, and suggests the popularization of the internet is linked to a trend toward more serious offending against children in abuse material. The consistent role of the home as the major site of abuse material production poses significant challenges to prevention, early intervention, and prosecution.

 

Relevance

“The comparison between the pre-internet and contemporary sample indicates that the average age of girls abused in CSAM [child sexual abuse material] has decreased, and the severity of the material has increased over time. This shift toward more serious abuse is particularly evident for younger children (SMR 1–2), where the proportion of images depicting serious sexual abuse (SVR 3– 4) shifted from 45.2% to 56% from the pre-internet to contemporary sample. The trend toward increased severity is also evident in the increased presence of adult offenders in abuse images, the drop in images depicting a child without an adult present, and the presence of animals in a few abuse images in the 2016 sample…The findings of the pre-internet study, and the comparison with the 2016 data, suggests that there has been a long-term shift in CSAM production toward more severe abuse against an increasingly young cohort of victims, particularly girls…Characteristics of abuse that had previously elicited allegations of exaggeration, such as child torture, were present in the pre-internet sample albeit in relatively low numbers, and were more common in the contemporary sample. Comparison with a larger contemporary sample suggests a long-term trend toward more serious abuse of children, particularly pre-pubescent girls.”

 

Citation

Salter, M., & Whitten, T. (2022). A Comparative Content Analysis of Pre-Internet and Contemporary Child Sexual Abuse Material. Deviant Behavior, 43(9), 1120-1134. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639625.2021.1967707