Apr 26, 2022
The U.S. hosts more online child sexual abuse content than any other nation in the world, according to new research provided by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). The IWF, a United Kingdom-based organization working to identify, flag, and remove abusive content featuring children, noted that the U.S. accounted for 30% of the global total of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) URLs at the end of March 2022.
That figure is up considerably from the 21% global share of CSAM URLs that the U.S. was confirmed to have hosted at the end of 2021. Moreover, the IWF confirmed the following to MIT Technology Review:
The figures are drawn from confirmed CSAM content detected and traced back to the physical server by the IWF to determine its geographical location, according to MIT Technology Review. 2021 was reportedly the worst year on record for child sexual abuse images online, according to the IWF report (with 252,000 URLs containing images or videos of children under the age of 18 being sexually abused identified, compared with 153,000 in 2020).
That sudden spike in abusive material can be attributed at least partly to the fact that a number of prolific CSAM sites have switched servers from the Netherlands to the U.S., taking a sizable amount of traffic with them, Chris Hughes, director of the IWF’s hotline, confirmed to MIT Technology Review. The Netherlands had hosted more CSAM than any other country since 2016 but has now been overtaken by the U.S.
In addition, a report from the BBC confirmed that the IWF’s research indicated:
Emme Hardy, a member of the IWF’s senior leadership team, told the BBC:
“Since the pandemic there has been a near four-fold increase in the amount of content where offenders are accessing children remotely. That often happens when children are in bedrooms alone and have an internet-enabled device with a camera built in.”
But the IWF also noted that the increase could be due to older children exploring new technologies and spending more time online.
A report from The Guardian confirmed that over a one month period, the IWF saw 51 examples of self-generated abuse imagery. Self-generated abuse imagery involves children being manipulated into recording their own abuse before the content is then shared online – including a child aged between three and six, according to The Guardian. More than half of the cases involved a sibling or friend of the child, the report indicated.
“Such young children being subjected to this kind of abuse is an emerging phenomenon – it is not something we have really seen before and this is the first time we have produced definitive data on it,” Susie Hargreaves, IWF chief executive, told The Guardian. “Our frontline analysts are now seeing younger and younger children being approached, groomed and coerced by predators online.”
The IWF further noted that the self-generated content is typically created using webcams or smartphones and then distributed on various platforms. Two-thirds of the reports, which were registered between October 11 and November 10 of 2021, were either duplicated images or videos (or contained the same children appearing more than once), according to the IWF.
“In some cases, children are groomed, deceived or extorted into producing and sharing a sexual image or video of themselves. The images are created of children often in their bedrooms or another room in a home setting and no abuser is physically present but may be present virtually via the internet,” an IWF representative confirmed to The Guardian.
Furthermore, the IWF indicated that the instances of self-generated CSAM for three to six year olds showed the young victims “performing” as if in a show.
“It’s evident this is not the first time this has happened to them and they are obviously trying to ‘please’ an audience, unaware of the inappropriateness being asked of them,” the IWF said.
“In many of the videos, phones can be heard buzzing and the children then pause to read and carry out a different request, often not hesitating at what is being asked of them,” the IWF added.
Several images and videos identified by the IWF appeared to show children intently looking into the camera, presumably to read or view something and then replicate it, according to The Guardian report.
“As recently as six years ago, we were seeing so-called self-generated material beginning to emerge as a threat. Now it is not only a regular thing we see – it is prevalent,” Hargreaves said to The Guardian.
According to a report from Wired, although the IWF’s 2021 figures show a geographical shift, they’re only “one snapshot” of what’s being found online.
“The true scale of CSAM online is unclear. In part, record numbers are being found each year as tech companies and child safety organizations are getting better at detecting it,” according to Wired.
“There is a global increase in incidents,” John Shehan, a vice president at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), a US-based nonprofit child safety organization, told Wired.
By law, tech companies in the U.S. (from Facebook and Google to GitHub and Giphy) are required to report any CSAM they find on their systems, Wired confirmed. Last year, more than 200 companies made 29 million reports of abuse material, according to figures provided to NCMEC.
“That was an increase of about 35 percent compared to the year prior,” Shehan said to Wired. “These reports contained 39 million images and 44 million videos,” he added.
But the U.S. is dwarfed by other nations, according to Wired’s report.
The following international statistics on CSAM URLs have been confirmed:
To report an incident involving the possession, distribution, receipt, or production of CSAM or child pornography, file a claim on NCMEC’s website via www.cybertipline.com.
You may also call 1-800-843-5678 to report an instance of child sexual abuse content. Your report will be forwarded to a law enforcement agency for investigation and action.
Last May, Dordulian Law Group (DLG) posted a blog detailing a Fresno, California, man who was on felony child pornography charges. During the arrest, authorities reportedly came across one of the largest collections of child pornography they’d ever witnessed during their time in law enforcement.
Michael Martin, 55, was issued a search warrant, and when authorities entered his home they discovered a closet filled with more than 1,000 DVDs. Part of that discovery included videos of children being raped. One DVD case was labeled “Sex Slaves of Sodom,” according to the Fresno Bee.
The massive child pornography video collection was stacked from the floor to the ceiling, according to the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. Detectives also reportedly seized electronic devices and books containing explicit photos and video.
Martin was booked at Fresno County Jail on possession of child pornography. His bail was set at $40,000, and he posted bond shortly after booking. He has since been released from custody.
According to the sheriff’s office, detectives have not developed any information indicating Martin had any physical contact with children.
A study of convicted internet sexual offenders published in the Psychology, Crime & Law journal reported that individuals spent more than eleven hours per week viewing pornographic images of children online.
Another study compared two groups of sex offenders:
The results confirmed that a majority of those who were convicted of only internet-based offenses also had committed real life sexual abuse of children. Additionally, the study found that real life offenders had committed an average of over 13 different child sex abuse offenses, regardless of whether or not they had formally been convicted of any real life incident.
Another study examined the beliefs of three groups:
While all groups were more likely to minimize the gravity of their offenses, the internet-only group was more likely than the contact-only group to think that children could make their own decisions on sexual involvement, and to believe that some children actually wanted (even “eagerly wanted,” according to the study) to engage in sexual activity with an adult.
A separate study published in the Journal of Sex Research found that “significant proportions” of various types of rapists and molesters had used hard-core pornography during their adolescence.
The statistical breakdown was as follows:
Current use of hard-core pornography was even greater for those groups:
For all childhood sex crimes, the California statute of limitations is temporarily paused under Assembly Bill 218 (AB 218). AB 218, which took effect on January 1, 2020, tolls (pauses) the statute of limitations on any childhood sex crime – regardless of how long ago the incident occurred – through the end of 2022.
In other words, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse or assault may currently file civil claims/lawsuits seeking financial compensation until December 31, 2022. As of January 1, 2023, however, the standard statute of limitations will resume, and survivors who did not file claims will likely be left without any legal recourse.
Furthermore, California AB 218 includes a treble damages award clause which gives the courts latitude to triple financial settlements or verdicts in cases where a cover-up is proven. For example, if you are a sexual abuse survivor who was victimized through a systemic cover-up (at either an individual or institutional level), and that malfeasance was able to be proven in court, a $1 million damages award could theoretically be increased to $3 million under the AB 218 treble damages clause.
AB 218’s treble damages clause was included in the legislation in an effort to severely punish bad actors who participated in systemic cover-ups, often over the course of several decades. Such cover-ups in organizations including the Boy Scouts of America and Catholic Church have impacted countless innocent survivors, but AB 218 offers all victims an opportunity at justice.
For additional information on California AB 218 and how it offers survivors of childhood sexual abuse an unprecedented opportunity at justice, please visit our recent blog post.
California childhood sexual abuse civil lawsuits may be brought in an effort to recover financial compensation for various types of losses. Depending on the circumstances of childhood sex crime, compensatory damages may be pursued and recovered through a civil claim.
Examples of some common damages that may be secured through a California childhood sexual assault or abuse civil claim include:
Although children impacted by sexual abuse are currently eligible to file civil claims regardless of when a crime occurred under AB 218, the statute of limitations is different for adult survivors of sexual violence.
For adult sexual assault survivors, the California statute of limitations on sex crimes allows you to file a civil claim up to 10 years after an incident. Additionally, the statute of limitations allows for a three-year window in civil claims where sexual assaults lead to the discovery of a psychological injury, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
DLG is a leading California-based sex crimes firm representing survivors across the United States. DLG offers survivors a unique type of legal representation which includes a four-tiered team of professionals known as the SAJE Team.
Led by Sam Dordulian, DLG’s experienced childhood sexual abuse lawyers have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards.
Some of our recent sex crime civil lawsuit victories include:
For a free and confidential consultation regarding your childhood sexual abuse civil claim, contact a member of DLG’s SAJE Team today at 818-322-4056. Our childhood sex crime attorneys have helped victims recover more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts while maintaining a 98% success record.
Our law firm in Glendale, CA advocates for victims of sexual assault, injury, employment disputes, and personal injury concerns.