Collecting and viewing behaviors of child sexual exploitation material offenders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The collecting behaviors of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) offenders provide insight into their cognitions and motivations that have clinical applications.

This study analyzed the CSEM collecting and viewing behaviors of previously convicted offenders.

Participants and settings
A postal letter soliciting participation in an online survey was sent to adults previously convicted of CSEM offenses in the United States. Comparison information from a non-offending population of adults within the United States (N = 524) was collected and compared to the CSEM respondents (N = 78).

A mixed-methods approach was utilized. The CSEM group was compared to a gender-matched sample from the non-offending group for general adult sexual exploitation material (SEM) viewing. Exploratory analyses of CSEM offender behaviors related to collecting, collection diversity, and recidivism were conducted.

The majority (78%) of the offenders did not organize their content and 74% deleted their entire collection on at least one occasion. Offenders viewed more diverse categories of adult SEM than non-offenders, including more bestiality, hentai, teen, and nudist/naturist material. None of the offenders viewed CSEM exclusively, and 74% viewed more adult SEM than CSEM. The age range of CSEM content viewed did not support highly preferential viewing but did support general novelty seeking. The self-reported recidivism rate was 10%, with infrequent post-conviction CSEM activity.

Treatment professionals should not assume that pedophilic interests are the sole or even primary motivator for CSEM behavior. Problematic Internet usage, general pornography consumption, coping issues, or novelty seeking may be more appropriate targets for some offenders.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105133
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
Early online date26 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • child pornography
  • child sexual exploitation material
  • collecting behavior
  • recidivism
  • novelty seeking


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