What are the offending characteristics of live streaming of child sexual abuse? An analysis of offender chat logs
Ms Sarah Napier1, Mr Coen Teunissen1
1Australian Institute Of Criminology, Sydney, Australia
Child sexual abuse (CSA) live streaming involves broadcasting acts of sexual abuse of children live over a webcam to people anywhere in the world. CSA live streaming is difficult to investigate and detect by law enforcement, as offenders are increasingly using encrypted communication platforms (Europol 2020), meaning there is little evidence that the offence occurred unless one of the parties record the live-streamed abuse. Further, there is evidence that demand for this type of online abuse is high (Terres des Hommes 2013; 2014).
Perhaps because of the difficulties associated with identifying, detecting and prosecuting CSA livestreaming, there is very limited empirical research available on the characteristics of offenders, offences and victims. Such information is crucial for effective disruption and prevention. To improve current knowledge of CSA live streaming, the present study analysed chat logs from a sample of detected offenders to investigate the characteristics of CSA live streaming offences/offenders, victims and facilitators. Among the key findings were that Australia-based offenders used mainstream platforms and paid low amounts via remittance services to view the abuse of children over live stream. Some of the abuse was categorised as COPINE level 10 involving sadistic rape and abuse of children. Facilitators in the Philippines were most commonly the mothers or sisters of the victims. The findings have implications for ‘big tech’ companies in implementing greater measures to prevent child exploitation from taking place on their platforms. The findings will assist law enforcement, policy and prevention initiatives in detecting, disrupting and preventing CSA live streaming.
Sarah Napier holds a Bachelor of Social Science in Criminology with Honours at the University of New South Wales. Ms Napier is a PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney, with a topic focused on child sexual abuse material offending. Ms Napier currently works as a Research Manager in the Online Sexual Exploitation of Children Research Program at the AIC, where she coordinates contracted projects and conducts internal research on the CSAM offending. Ms Napier has also conducted research into juvenile sexual offending, prevention of sexual offending, DFV and drug use.