Due to the COVID-19 pandemic responses around the world, many people are home more often, with a range of restrictions. As a result, both children and adults have increased time spent online. Many experts have expressed concerns that this will lead to escalated online child sexual offending due to a combination of increased opportunity (ECPAT, 2020; EUROPOL, 2020; UNICEF, 2020) and heightened risk factors of stress, social isolation, and boredom of being home (Seto, 2013, 2017). Reports are also coming from the police in some countries about increases in online offending (Fitzpatrick, 2020; National Crime Agency, 2020).
In this Letter, we briefly describe “Prevent It,” an innovative online intervention for individuals who use child sexual abuse material (CSAM, previously known as child pornography), currently collecting data for evaluation of outcomes at Karolinska Institutet, and share some preliminary observations to inform fellow researchers and the public that changes have occurred during the pandemic. Based on this information, we suggest that more preventive initiatives are taken during the pandemic, specifically, in reaching out with interventions addressed directly to active online child sexual offenders.