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

NCJ Number
Child Abuse & Neglect Volume: 143 Dated: 2023
Date Published

This paper explores the dimensions of technology-facilitated abuse, focusing on image abuse; the authors’ goals were to chart the relative frequency of the five incident types, which include adult-made images and youth-made images, and to assess the age and relationship contexts in which those image abuse instances occur; the paper also addresses the degree of negative emotional impact of the various types.


This paper presents a categorization of sexual image crimes and abuse that occur against children, and it compares their frequency, dynamics, and emotional impact. The authors took a national sample via an online self-administered questionnaire with a total of 2639 respondents, aged 18-to-28, which disclosed 369 childhood episodes involving a variety of image abuse. The analysis classified the cases into five incident types: adult-made images (child sexual abuse images); images non-consensually made by other youth; voluntarily provided self-made images that were non-consensually shared by other youth; voluntarily provided self-made images non-consensually shared by adults; and voluntarily provided self-made images to adults that entailed an illegal age difference or were part of a commercial transaction. The authors propose to refer to this aggregation of types as Image Based Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children (IBSEAC). Only 12 percent 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 percent of the episodes involved images of children under age 13. 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. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: January 1, 2023