Online Child Sexual Abuse

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Online Child Sexual Abuse by Female Offenders: An Exploratory Study

Online Child Sexual Abuse by Female Offenders: An Exploratory Study


This paper presents an analysis of article “Online child sexual abuse by female offenders:

An Exploratory study”; it was written by Elena Martellozzo, Helen Taylor, and Daniel Nehring. The article was published in the year 2010 in International Journal of Cyber Criminology.

Research Objective

Main objective of this research is to improve understanding and increase knowledge of the problem of online child sexual abuse by female offenders.

Brief Review of the Literature

The last 20 years have witnessed a shift in cultural attitudes as greater freedom of access to pornographic content has democratized sexual gratification. Law enforcement reflects this changing technological and cultural landscape and, while the production and distribution of sexually explicit images of adults no longer constitute a policing priority, the launch of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre in 2006 underlines the UK police's commitment to stemming the global internet trade in child sexual abuse using internet (Martellozzo, 2010). At a local level, however, the decentralized nature of policing in England and Wales means a lack of standardization and varying levels of commitment to combating the problem (Bunting, 2007).

When the government set up the National Hi-tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) in 2001, £10 million of the £25 million start-up costs was earmarked for the provision of at least two specialist officers in every force (Matravers, 2008). However, some forces struggled to recruit suitable applicants and, even on major investigations such as Operation Ore, some investigators reported they were inadequately trained for the task (Jewkes and Andrews 2005). Unable to cope with the demands made upon it, therefore, the NHTCU was wound down in 2006 and absorbed into the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, which has a broader remit than simply online crimes (Bunting, 2007).

Online child sexual abuse exploits children in many different ways (Denov, 2003). First, children who are physically forced, coerced, or tricked into making these images are directly sexually abused and exploited (Davidson & Gottschalk, 2010). Second, consumers who possess pornographic depictions of children, even though they may not directly participate in the abuse of the child depicted, use the images for their sexual gratification (Plummer, 2001). These people are not necessarily paedophiles or preferential abusers; nevertheless, their demand and consumption of child pornography maintains the incentive to produce such material, thus furthering the abuse and exploitation of yet more children (Denov, 2003).

Third, there is evidence that the use of child pornography does incite some people to sexually abuse other children. While previous studies have suggested that 30-40 percent of child pornography consumers have also sexually molested children, an unpublished U.S. government study of convicted Internet offenders found that 85 percent said they had committed acts of sexual abuse against minors (Matravers, 2008). The makers of child pornography also commonly use their products to intimidate and blackmail children used in making such material.

Over the past several years, news accounts of violent sexual crimes against children, often perpetrated by female ...
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