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Child Sexual Abuse: Child Sexual Abuse Material

The role of technology in facilitating sexual offences against children has increased significantly. Today, it is commonly misused to create a record of the abuse, which is called child sexual abuse material (CSAM). The growing online availability of child sexual abuse material is a global, social epidemic.

The majority of images involve prepubescent children and often include either explicit or extreme sexual assaults against the victims. Key findings from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s (C3P) report, Child Sexual Abuse Images on the Internet: A Analysis, contains additional insight.

Impacts of Child Sexual Abuse Material

When children know their abuse has been photographed or recorded, the existence of this material creates another layer of trauma for them over and above the contact offence(s). Nearly 70% of the 150 respondents to C3P’s 2016 International Survivors’ Survey indicated they constantly worry about being recognized by someone who has seen images/videos of their abuse, and 30 survivors reported being identified by someone who has seen recordings of their abuse. Survivors were consistent in their descriptions of the constant fear and vulnerability with which they live as a result of there being a permanent record of their abuse.

What are we doing to fight it?

CSAM and its growing availability on the internet is a social epidemic substantially impacting the lives of children/survivors and all those trying to protect them. Current policies have been focused on determining and removing material deemed illegal under criminal law. Rather, we need to start approaching the removal of CSAM and harmful/abusive images of children from the best interests of children and their right to dignity, privacy, and protection from harm. You can learn more by reading our child protection and rights framework.

In addition to our global efforts with Project Arachnid, we continue the critical work of supporting survivors and their families, along with publishing research and reports to assist governments with establishing policies that prioritize the safety and protection of children online.

Project Arachnid

Project Arachnid is an automated web crawler and platform that helps reduce the online availability of child sexual abuse material around the world, breaking the cycle of abuse.

Survivor Support Services

We are often the first point of contact for survivors of online sexual victimization. Our team is available to assist - from helping to reduce the availability of their material through Project Arachnid to connecting survivors to our support services for safety planning, psychoeducation, connecting to victim services compensation and therapists in their area, and/or advocacy. Learn more here.

Research and Reports

C3P is committed to innovative research that looks to better understand the scope of child sexual victimization — online or hands‑on abuse — the systemic failures that allow this to occur, and where the gaps in child protection lie in order to hold industry and government accountable, promote transparency, and assist policy makers in developing effective regulatory frameworks that protect children and support survivors.

Read our latest reports here.