Child sexual abuse images and youth produced images: The varieties of Image-based Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children published by Child Abuse & Neglect

Authors: David Finkelhor, Heather Turner, Deirdre Colburn, Kim Mitchell, Ben Mathews.

Background and objective: This paper presents a categorization of sexual image crimes and abuse that occur against children, and it compares their frequency, dynamics, and emotional impact.

Participants: A national sample of 2639 respondents aged 18-to-28 disclosed 369 childhood episodes involving a variety of image abuse.

Methods: Online self-administered questionnaire.

Results: The analysis classified the cases into five incident types: 1) adult made images (child sexual abuse images), 2) images non-consensually made by other youth, 3) voluntarily provided self-made images that were non-consensually shared by other youth, 4) voluntarily provided self-made images non-consensually shared by adults, and 5) voluntarily provided self-made images to adults that entailed an illegal age difference or were part of a commercial transaction. We propose to refer to this aggregation of types as Image Based Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children (IBSEAC). Only 12 % of the image episodes qualified as adult produced, child sexual abuse images. Such adult produced image experiences were also not higher in negative emotional impact than the youth produced images. Only 10 % of the episodes involved images of children under age 13.

Conclusion: The study highlights the predominance of youth made sexual images among the image exploitation and abuse affecting youth according to self-report. It also highlights the difference between what victim surveys reveal about the problem and what is inferred from police record studies.

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