A content analysis of pre-internet child sexual abuse material

A/Prof Michael Salter1

1University Of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

This paper presents the first systematic content analysis of pre-internet child sexual abuse material (CSAM), and compares the findings with existing research and knowledge about CSAM content and survivor disclosures. A randomised sample of 1000 images of CSAM dating from 1960 – 1995 was analysed on site and in collaboration with the Canadian Centre of Child Protection in Winnipeg, Canada. The paper will present quantitative findings of the characteristics of child victims, adult perpetrators, the severity of the images and the surroundings in which the images were created. The paper reflects on the evidence of pre-internet commercial CSAM production, which contests claims that the trade in CSAM was largely eradicated following its criminalisation in most jurisdictions in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The results of the study have significant implications for scholarly understandings of the history of CSAM and child sex offending. As the first generation of CSAM victims whose material was circulated online come of age, data on previous generations of victims provides vital context and information regarding the experiences and likely consequences of CSAM victimisation.


Dr Salter is a Scientia Fellow and Associate Professor of Criminology at the University of New South Wales. He specialises in the study of complex trauma, including organised sexual abuse and technologically-facilitated abuse. He sits on the Board of Directors of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation


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