Child abuse and the Internet

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Child abuse and the Internet in the AIFS library catalogue

Criminal justice responses to child sexual abuse material offending: a systematic review and evidence and gap map

Eggins E, Mazerolle L, Higginson A, Hine L, Walsh K, Sydes M, McEwan J, Hassall G, Roetman S, Wallis R and Williams J
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2021.
There is growing research into criminal justice strategies to address child sexual abuse material (CSAM) offending. However, the research base is complicated by a range of factors, including a lack of common definitions and terminology and debate about whether CSAM offending is distinct from contact offending. Based on a systematic review, this paper identifies the strengths and gaps of the research base, presenting the findings in a visual map. The findings reveal a general lack of robust impact evaluations of criminal justice responses to CSAM offending. The current research base largely concerned policing, with no studies on correctional responses or multiagency responses involving at least one criminal justice partner.

Kids Helpline insights 2020: insights into young people in Australia - 30th anniversary commemorative edition.

Yourtown (Organization)
Brisbane : yourtown, 2021.
This magazine-style publication highlights the work of Kids Helpline in 2020 and summarises findings from an analysis of callers. Kids Helpline provides online and telephone counselling and referral for children and young people with mental health and wellbeing concerns, and 2020 was a particularly challenging year - with major bushfires, the covid pandemic, and a move to home-based learning for many. Contacts rose by more than 20% in 2020, and first-time callers about mental health issues were up 38%. Visits to the website also rose by 50%. Different issues and calls by different age groups are also discussed, as are new initiatives implemented during the year. A more detailed report is also available.

Production and distribution of child sexual abuse material by parental figures

Salter M, Wong W, Breckenridge J, Scott S, Cooper S and Peleg N
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2021.
The identification of child victims in child sexual abuse material is a major challenge for law enforcement. Research with survivors suggests that a significant proportion is produced and distributed by parents, while analysis of images and videos suggests that over two-thirds were manufactured in a home setting. This paper looks into this issue further. It investigates the characteristics of child sexual abuse material perpetrated by parental figures, drawing on a review of 82 cases from Australia, and makes policy and practice recommendations for law enforcement. The case studies were taken from media reports or legal databases from 2009 to 2019, and involved largely fathers or step-fathers as perpetrators and girls under nine years of age as victims. Ten percent involved a female perpetrator acting alone and 18% working with a man - in all these cases the woman was the biological mother of the child. While all cases included production charges, distribution or sharing was also detected in 45% of cases. The findings also showed the significant impact of parental offending on victims and the need for specialist victim support.

Crime commission processes in child sexual abuse material production and distribution: a systematic review

Cale J, Holt T, LeClerc B, Singh S and Drew J
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2021.
Child sexual abuse material (CSAM) - material that depicts a child, or a representation of a child, in a sexual or offensive context or as the subject of torture, cruelty or abuse - poses increasingly serious challenges to law enforcement agencies. This paper reviews what is known about the decision-making processes of offenders in this context. A systematic review was conducted of empirical studies. The paper discusses the findings relating to offender characteristics, victim characteristics and victim-offender relationships, characteristics of CSAM production and distribution, and the technologies used to distribute CSAM online. The findings highlight the overlap between risk factors for child sexual abuse and CSAM production and distribution. A substantial amount of CSAM is produced in family contexts, and there are different motivations and strategies for producing CSAM. The findings provide important foundational information about the variety of crime commission processes involved in CSAM production and distribution, to help inform prevention and intervention efforts.

Children in the digital environment: revised typology of risks

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Paris, France : OECD, 2021.
The digital environment has become an integral part of children's everyday lives and interactions, but there also risks. In 2011, the OECD adopted a Typology of Risks to provide a high-level and overarching model of those risks. Since then, the digital environment has changed significantly, with old risks evolving in nature and new risk emerging. This paper presents an updated Typology of Risks, under the four categories of content, conduct, contact, and consumer risks. It also looks at privacy risks, advanced technology risks, and health and wellbeing risks that cut across the four main categories.

Kids Helpline insights 2019: insights into young people in Australia.

Yourtown (Organization)
Brisbane : yourtown, 2020.
This magazine-style publication highlights the work of Kids Helpline in 2019 and summarises findings from an analysis of callers. Kids Helpline provides online and telephone counselling and referral for children and young people with mental health and wellbeing concerns. The data shows that mental health and emotional wellbeing are the key issues for counselling support, followed by family relationship issues and suicide concerns. A more detailed report is also available.

Kids Helpline insights 2019: national statistical overview - insights into young people in Australia.

Yourtown (Organization)
Brisbane : yourtown, 2020.
Kids Helpline is a counselling service for Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 25 years. It provides support 24 hours a day, with access by phone, email, or the website, as well as the Kids Helpline @ School program. This report provides insights into the clients of the service and the issues that concern them. It presents 2020 data on service demand, client characteristics, client needs and concerns, client communication preferences, referral to specialist services, and client satisfaction and impact. The report also explains the scope and focus of Kids Helpline's work and its role in supporting and protecting young Australians, both at an individual and systemic level. Though most trends relating to client demographics and issues of concern have been stable over the past decade, the number of calls from boys and young men has been decreasing, while mental health and emotional wellbeing concerns have risen.

Enhancing evidence-based treatment of child sexual abuse material offenders: the development of the CEM-COPE Program

Henshaw M, Arnold C, Darjee R, Ogloff J and Clough J
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2020.
Research has found that child sexual abuse material offenders have distinct psychological and offending characteristics depending on whether or not they are also have a history of contact offending, and thus require specialised treatment approaches. However, to date there has been no widely available programs designed specifically for offenders without a history of contact offences. This paper describes the development of the CEM-COPE (Coping with Child Exploitation Material Use) Program, an evidence-based, specialised treatment program in Victoria developed to address this gap. The paper discusses offender characteristics, motivations, recidivism rates and treatment considerations, then explains the rationale, specifications and underpinnings of the CEM-COPE Program.

Best Practice Framework for Online Safety Education (Stage 1)

Walsh K, Wallace E, Ayling N and Sondergeld A
Australia : eSafety Commissioner, 2020.
The eSafety Commissioner is developing a best practice framework for online safety education in Australian schools. To help support this work, this report was commissioned to investigate what constitutes best practice in online safety education for school-aged children. It reviews the literature and key agencies to identify existing frameworks and their key components and assess their strengths and weaknesses. The study identifies several online safety education frameworks but none which are comprehensive enough to be adopted as a national standard. The findings highlight a need for greater efforts to improve the quality of educational programs for children.

Protecting children online: an overview of recent developments in legal frameworks and policies

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Paris : OECD, 2020.
"The digital environment presents a wide range of benefits to children, whilst also exposing them to various risks, including cyberbullying, harmful content and inappropriate contact with strangers. This report provides an overview of the legal and policy actions that governments, international organisations and other stakeholders have taken to ensure a safe and beneficial digital environment for children. It considers actions taken to keep pace with technological developments, to ensure children can realise the benefits of the digital environment, and to respond to the changing digital risk landscape. The report also informed the revision of the 2012 OECD Recommendation of the Council on the Protection of Children Online, which aims to bring it into line with current and anticipated future needs of children in the digital environment."--Publisher abstract.

The internet: investigation report

Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (Great Britain)
London : Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, 2020.
This report looks into online-facilitated child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom, including its nature and extent, the experiences of victims and survivors, and the adequacy of the response of government, law enforcement and the internet industry. It focuses on three types of offending: indecent images of children offences; the grooming of a child; and live streaming of child sexual abuse. This study is part of the broader Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in institutions in England and Wales. The report discusses detection and prevention, age verification, and education and awareness, and makes recommendations for reform. Despite improvements in the response of law enforcement, industry and government over the last five years, there has been an explosion in online-facilitated child sexual abuse and intervention and prevention efforts are struggling to keep pace.

Protecting the age of innocence: report of the inquiry into age verification for online wagering and online pornography

Wallace A
Canberra : Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, 2020.
This inquiry looked into the potential role for online age verification to protect children and young people in Australia from exposure to online wagering and online pornography. Though the internet has brought about new opportunities for children and young people to learn, play and connect, it is also important that children and young people are protected - this includes ensuring that age restrictions that apply to content or services offline in the physical world are also applied in the online world. This report presents the inquiry's findings and recommendations. It considers the attributes of effective online age-verification models, current state of the art methods, children and young people's exposure to online pornography and online wagering, how online pornography and online wagering are currently regulated in Australia and approaches in other jurisdictions, and implementation issues of mandatory regime for age verification for online pornography or online wagering, including the impacts on businesses, adult consumers, international obligations, and unintended consequences. The inquiry support the implementation of online age verification in Australia, and recommended that the Digital Transformation Agency lead the development of standards and educational resources.

Speaking Out Survey 2019: the views of WA children and young people on their wellbeing - a summary report

Western Australia. Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People
Subiaco, WA : Commissioner for Children and Young People WA, 2020.
This report shares the views of children and young people on what it's like to grow up in Western Australia. It presents preliminary results from the inaugural Speaking Out Survey, which involved 4,912 students from Grade 4 to Year 12 from across the state. Participants were asked about family and friends, community, physical and mental health, healthy behaviour and drug use, safety, bullying and abuse, gaming and social media, living standards, connection to culture and community, sport and leisure, education and wellbeing. Overall, most students report they are physically and mentally healthy, their material needs are covered, and they like school. However, some groups are not faring as well. Results for Aboriginal participants and participants from rural and regional areas are also discussed. Many children and young people also say their relationships with family, friends and teachers are positive overall and that they feel like they belong in their community. The methodology involved weighting and over-sampling to provide a better picture of the total student population and Aboriginal students, and now that this proof of concept has been tested, the Commissioner hopes to conduct the survey every three years.

2020 Child Online Safety Index

DQ Institute
United States : DQ Institute, 2020.
The Child Online Safety Index (COSI) website presents the latest statistics of children's online safety from 30 different countries. The original release in 2020 was based on data collected from 145,426 children and adolescents from 2017-2019 and will be automatically updated as the countries progress with their child online safety and digital citizenship initiatives. First, this report describes the index and its framework and methodology. It then presents regional and national data for indicators of child online safety including cyberbullying, exposure to risky or violent content, risky contacts, cyber threats, excessive screen time, high rates of social media and gaming, mobile device ownership by children, digital citizen identity, digital empathy, digital footprint, critical thinking, privacy management, parental guidance, online safety education, legal frameworks, industry engagement, cyber security infrastructure, access, and speed. Australia ranked 2nd out of the 30 countries, with above average performance in most measures. However, risks were still present, which improvement in guidance and education related measures could help address.

Australians who view live streaming of child sexual abuse: an analysis of financial transactions

Brown R, Napier S and Smith R
Canberra, ACT : Australian Institute of Criminology, 2020.
Live streaming technologies are increasingly being used to facilitate child sexual abuse, such as using Skype and webcams to watch and direct live acts of abuse in 'real time'. This paper adds to what is known about this type of abuse by studying a sample of financial transactions made by Australians who provided funds to known facilitators in the Philippines. The study involved collaboration between multiple agencies in Australia and the Philippines, and data from 118 facilitators arrested in the Philippines, the financial transactions of 299 Australians who had sent funds to these people, and these Australians' criminal history. Using this data, the paper profiles the demographic characteristics and criminal history of these offenders and the patterns of financial transactions involved, including frequency, value, and escalation. The findings provide insights into this type of child sexual abuse and the implications for law enforcement efforts.

Online child sexual exploitation: understanding community awareness, perceptions, attitudes and preventative behaviours - research report

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, Orima Research
Brisbane, Qld. : Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation, 2020.
This report was commissioned to learn more about current awareness, perceptions and attitudes about online child sexual exploitation in Australia, to help inform effective prevention and education activities. The research involved a review of the literature, focus groups and interviews with 159 parents, educators, health professionals and others involved in children's lives, and an online survey with 2,559 again of these adults. Topics include: children and young people's online behaviours, knowledge of online safety and online child exploitation, myths and misconceptions about risk and safety, attitudes towards online child sexual exploitation and interest in child online safety, social norms, motivators and barriers to implementing effective preventative measures, and impact of exposure to educational messages and information. The findings highlight how today's parents are the first generation to be raising children following the digital evolution, with most children accessing the internet from an early age and many parents feeling overwhelmed and that their children have a better understanding of technology than they do. The issue of online child sexual exploitation is also not well known or understood. The findings suggest that a multi-pronged and ongoing prevention strategy is needed.

Prevention of and responses to harmful sexual behaviour by children and young people

Scotland. Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People, Scotland. Scottish Executive
Edinburgh : Scottish Government, 2020.
Much of the research in the United Kingdom and in other jurisdictions suggests that at least around one third of all harmful sexual behaviour towards children and young people is committed by other children and young people. This Expert Group was convened in Scotland to consider the evidence relating to the occurrence, causes, and nature of this harmful behaviour and to review current responses and potential further actions for prevention and intervention. This report sets out the evidence gathered by the Expert Group and presents its proposals for practice and further research. The Expert Group included professionals from across the child protection, education, health, justice, and service sectors in Scotland and featured sub-groups on children and young people with intellectual disabilities, collaborative working, intra-familial behaviour, internet pornography, involvement of younger children, use of the NSPCC audit tool, peer on peer abuse, and risk assessments and responses. Consultations were also held with young people.

Kids Helpline insights 2018: insights into young people in Australia.

Yourtown (Organization)
Brisbane : yourtown, 2019.
This magazine-style publication highlights the work of Kids Helpline, introduces some new initiatives, and summarises findings from an analysis of 2018 data. Kids Helpline answered 147,351 contacts in 2018, most commonly about mental health, suicide, family relationships, or child abuse. A more detailed report is also available.

Kids Helpline insights 2018: national statistical overview - insights into young people in Australia.

Yourtown (Organization)
Brisbane : yourtown, 2019.
Kids Helpline is a counselling service for Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 25 years. It provides support 24 hours a day, with access by phone, email, or the website, as well as the Kids Helpline @ School program. This report provides insights into the clients of the service and the issues that concern them. It presents 2018 data on service demand, client characteristics, client needs and concerns, client communication preferences, referral to specialist services, and client satisfaction and impact. The report also explains the scope and focus of Kids Helpline's work and its role in supporting and protecting young Australians, both at an individual and systemic level. Of the 147,351 contacts responded to by the service in 2018, 143,481 were from children and young people, with 77% of them girls and young women. Half of contacts were answered by phone, over a third by webchat, and 13% by email. A summary report is also available.

Learning about online sexual harm

Beckett H, Warrington C and Devlin J
London : Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, 2019.
This report explores the views of children and young people from the United Kingdom on online sexual harm, including their perceptions of the risks of online sexual harm, education received about online sexual harm within state school settings, how such education could be improved and what else should be done to better protect children and young people. Surveys were undertaken with 213 children and young people aged 10-18 years old, along with focus groups with 45 young people aged 14-16 years old and interviews with nine young people aged 13-20 years old who had experienced online sexual harm. The findings provide insights into the realities of being online and how these young people wanted to learn about, and be protected from, online sexual harm. The vast majority of participants demonstrated some degree of knowledge of online sexual harm, most commonly from school, but also, of concern, from personal experience.

Combating the sexual exploitation of children for financial gain: activity indicators

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
Chatswood, N.S.W. : AUSTRAC, 2019.
Written for financial service providers, this guide highlights the characteristics of financial transactions that relate to child sexual exploitation. There has been a rise in offenders watching live child sexual abuse over the internet via webcam, and analysis of data has identified some patterns in how the payments to facilitators are made. Information is also presented on the nature and context of live child sexual exploitation. Financial service providers can help law enforcement agencies identify and prosecute child sexual exploitation by detecting suspect transactions and adding to the overall picture of an offence.

Understanding the attitudes and motivations of adults who engage in image-based abuse

Mortreux C, Kellard K, Henry N and Flynn A
Melbourne, Vic. : eSafety Commissioner, 2019.
This report explores the beliefs, motivations and attitudes of adults who have engaged in image-based abuse (IBA) and the range and efficacy of current interventions. Included here is relationship-based abuse, on-sharing intimate images, child exploitation, and taking images of strangers. It investigates why individuals decide to non-consensually capture, distribute or threaten to distribute intimate images; reviews therapeutic intervention programs in Australia that treat, educate or support perpetrators; and looks at front-line professionals' awareness and understanding of IBA behaviour and their views of the efficacy of current therapeutic programs in reducing recidivism. Interviews were conducted with 16 perpetrators and 12 front-line professionals including police, defence lawyers, forensic psychologists, and men's behaviour change program facilitators. The study found that perpetrators demonstrate little remorse and downplay their actions, and many considered sharing images commonplace or were unaware it was against the law. The findings highlight the need for more action to disrupt the normalising culture around image-based abuse and the importance of improving the 'visibility' of IBA in assessment, referral and intervention pathways.

How safe are our children? 2019: an overview of data on child abuse online

Bentley H
London : NSPCC, 2019
"For the past six years our annual 'How safe are our children?' report has compiled and analysed data from across the UK to show the current child protection landscape. This year, for the first time, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have taken on this task, with the first edition of its compendium of child abuse data sources for England and Wales due in winter 2019/20. We have taken this opportunity to refocus our 2019 report on statistics relating to the issue of online abuse. Our 2019 report found: year on year increases in the numbers and rates of police-recorded online child sexual offences in England and Wales and Northern Ireland [and that] less than half of children aged 12 to 15 say they know how to change their settings to control who can view their social media."

Left to their own devices: young people, social media and mental health

Papamichail M and Sharma N
Barkingside U.K. : Barnardo's, 2019.
This report looks at the impact of social media on young people's mental health and wellbeing in the United Kingdom and calls for government action. It outlines current government responses and policies, discusses existing research with children and young people, and presents findings from a new study with 80 practitioners on their views about the beneficial and harmful aspects of social media use on children and young people. Negative aspects identified include the pressure to conform, cyberbullying, exposure to inappropriate content, and child sexual abuse. Though a causal link between social media use and poor mental health and wellbeing cannot be established, this report highlights the negative as well as positive impacts from social media use and that vulnerable children can be affected by social media use differently from other groups of children.

Best practice in the management of online sex offending

International Working Group for the Prevention of Online Sex Offending
Plymouth, U.K. : University of Plymouth, 2019.
"A new report involving over 2,000 experts in online child sex offending has made strong recommendations on how to better prevent the growing problem of child sexual offending on the internet. The report, put together by the International Working Group for the Prevention of Online Sex Offending (IWG_OSO), features input from the National Crime Agency, the NSPCC and the University of Plymouth. It highlights that more public engagement is needed to raise awareness of online sexual offending behaviour, along with closer collaboration between behavioural experts and the online industry, a better balance between punishment and early intervention with potential offenders, and increased primary prevention addressing the underlying causes of offending."

Intentional peer support as a trauma informed response to the partners of perpetrators of child sexual abuse material

Walker N
Acton, A.C.T. : The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust of Australia, 2019.
A largely unrecognised group of victims of online child sexual exploitation are the partners, children and close family members of perpetrators, whose impact of learning about the offence is then compounded by how others respond. This study investigated the use of intentional peer support to help these family members, and the role of shame and stigma in their responses. Intentional Peer Support is a trauma-informed framework for peer support developed by Shery Mead that involves building relationships between peers who might have a shared lived experience. Supported by a Winston Churchill Fellowship, the author visited organisations in the United States and New Zealand and reviewed the learnings for the PartnerSPEAK program in Australia.

Child deaths due to abuse or neglect: statistics briefing

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Knowledge and Information Service
London : NSPCC, 2019.
This briefing paper provides an overview of what is known about child sexual abuse in the United Kingdom. It discusses available data sources and their limitations and presents the best estimates available. Though it is not known how many children are sexually abused, surveys of children and adults' self-reported experiences of abuse, and the number of offences recorded by police, help provide insights into the scale of the problem. The paper discusses what is known about child protection data, trends in police data, offences involving online elements, trafficking for sexual exploitation, help seeking, age and gender, and who the perpetrators of this abuse are. An estimated 1 in 20 children in the UK have been abused.

Child abuse and neglect : forensic issues in evidence, impact and management.

Bryce I, Robinson Y and Petherick W
San Diego, USA : Academic Press, 2019.
This text book provides a multi-disciplinary overview of child abuse and neglect. Part one looks at types of child abuse, part two considers impacts and outcomes, and part three looks at responses. Chapters are written by Australian and international authors, and include: Child abuse: types and emergent issues; Intimate partner violence as a form of child abuse; Keeping our eye on sex, power, relationships and institutional contexts in preventing institutional child sexual abuse; Online child sexual abuse; Understanding violent extremism and child abuse: a psychological analysis; Child trafficking: characteristics, complexities and challenge; Gender comparisons of offenders: males and females who sexually offend against children; Forensic victimology assessments in child abuse and neglect cases; Cumulative harm: chronicity, re-victimisation and developmental victimology; The pathological consequences of exposure to domestic and family violence in childhood; Physical punishment and offending in two successive generations; Physical discipline, child abuse and children's rights; Understanding the nature and dimensions of child sexual abuse to inform its prevention; False reports in child abuse and neglect cases; Mandatory reporting: managing disclosure and information gathering; Virtue ethics and good professional judgment in statutory child protection; Decision making guidelines for the child protection intake phase; Eight core principles of neurobiologically-informed interventions for trauma form childhood maltreatment; Understanding childhood maltreatment and subsequent re-victimization: a Singapore perspective; Understanding child maltreatment across ethnic minority communities in Australia: physical abuse, neglect, witnessing domestic and family violence and child sexual abuse; Child abuse and neglect and the judicial system: the limits of legal enterprise; and Public (mis)perceptions of sexual abusers of children and their implications thereof.

Impact of social media and screen-use on young people's health: fourteenth report of Session 2017-19

Great Britain. Parliament. House of Commons. Science and Technology Committee
London : House of Commons, 2019.
In light of growing concerns, this British Inquiry was established to investigate whether the growing use of social media and screens by children and young people is healthy or harmful, and whether any new measures or controls are required. The inquiry drew on consultations with experts and the community as well as children and young people, and considers benefits and risk of harm, resources for schools and parents, and gaps in current regulation. This report presents the findings and recommendations of the inquiry, which is timely considering that the British Government is developing online safety legislation. The first recommendation is that the British Government should commission research into this issue urgently. The inquiry was hindered by the limited quantity and quality of evidence available, in particular on causation rather than association and which groups are at risk. Generally, though, the available evidence suggest that while social media was not the root cause of the risk it does help to facilitate and amplify it. This was particularly apparent in the case of the abuse of children online.

Kids Helpline insights 2017: national statistical overview - insights into young people in Australia.

Yourtown (Organization)
Brisbane : yourtown, 2018.
Kids Helpline is a counselling service for Australian children and young people aged between 5 and 25 years. It provides support 24 hours a day, with access by phone, email, or the website, as well as the Kids Helpline @ School program. This report provides insights into the clients of the service and the issues that concern them. It presents 2017 data on service demand, client characteristics, client needs and concerns, client communication preferences, referral to specialist services, and client satisfaction and impact. The report also explains the scope and focus of Kids Helpline's work and its role in supporting and protecting young Australians, both at an individual and systemic level. Of the 157,656 contacts responded to by the service in 2017, 54,868 were from children and young people. The concerns raised by the children and young people varied greatly by and cultural background, moderately by gender, and only slightly by chosen medium of contact - with no difference for rural and urban areas.
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