U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Use of Computers in the Sexual Exploitation of Children

NCJ Number
D S Armagh; N L Battaglia; K V Lanning
Date Published
March 2000
32 pages
This guide provides information on the computer-based techniques used by child molesters to exploit child users of the internet and to traffick in child pornography; this is followed by instruction in the techniques investigators can use to identify such offenders and collect the evidence necessary to obtain their conviction.
As used in this guide, the term "child sexual exploitation" refers to forms of sexual victimization of children that involve pornography, sex rings, or prostitution. Traditionally, online computer services have been oriented toward adults, but an increasing number of children are logging on to commercial services, private bulletin boards, and the Internet through schools and in their homes. This increased access to computer technology puts children at greater risk of sexual exploitation. Criminals involved in the sexual exploitation of children use the computer as a convenient tool to enter the homes of their victims, correspond with one another, and exchange depictions of illicit activities with child victims. After discussing the ways in which offenders use computers to victimize children sexually, types of such computer offenders are profiled. This is followed by a review of investigative guidelines for such offenses and offenders. A pre-investigative checklist for law enforcement agencies focuses on jurisdiction, expertise, equipment, time/personnel, and follow-up. Guidelines then describe what to do and what not to do when investigating child exploitation through the use of computer systems. Topics discussed include establishing the context, obtaining a search warrant, handling computer equipment, analyzing a computer system, and the protection of the integrity of evidence. A separate section of the guide discusses legal considerations in the use of search warrants. 17 notes, 3 supplemental readings, a list of resource organizations, and a description of the Internet Crimes Against Children Program of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention