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FY 2021 Report to the Committees on the Judiciary on the Study of Investigative Factors Related to Online Child Exploitation Report

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2022
5 pages

After a comprehensive analysis of the scope of child sexual pornography on the internet, this report discusses its threat to children and issues involved in controlling and preventing it, followed by recommendations for improving investigations, preventing it, and issues requiring further research.


The first section of this report examines the key “choke” points in the investigative process in countering child sexual abuse on the internet. The timeline for victims is outlined as starting with grooming, then abuse, and often the creation of child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) with the victim. Ideally, the victims are rescued when law enforcement officers execute a search warrant; however, revictimization continues due to the persistent sharing of CSAM online. Another section of the report discusses the need to find new environments where sexual exploitation of children is occurring, new individuals who are committing child sexual abuse, and new victims are abused. Accurate indicators of dangerousness are discussed in a third section of the report. This involves identifying what online characteristics correlate with hands-on, contact offenses. A fourth section of the report summarizes statistics of federal cases of sex crimes against children. Results identify important characteristics of the prosecution of this crime in recent years. Section V discusses research and policy on this issue, noting that CSAM investigators are in a continual and escalating technology race with those seeking to abuse children online. Investigators have available advances from only a limited set of forensic researchers and companies. The report suggests major areas of research that should be supported. The report notes there are few protections for children victimized in environments provided by companies to individuals who hunt children for sexual victimization. This section of the report discusses policy changes that could achieve significant reductions in this crime.