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Men viewing online abuse more inclined to contact kids directly: Study

Men viewing online abuse more inclined to contact kids directly: Study

Crackdown on men watching child abuse online continues in the UK and elsewhere. However, men often claim that watching offensive stuff wouldn't translate into harming children directly.

A survey of details published by The Guardian nullifies this claim, proving that people watching child sexual abuse material (CSAM) are 'at high risk of going to contact or abuse a child directly'.

The survey found significant evidence that corroborated the findings.

The respondents to the survey, forming nearly half, said they sought direct contact with children online after watching CSAM.

A large chunk of 58 per cent are afraid of committing the abuse themselves after viewing CSAM material.

The first of its kind study published in the Stanford Internet Observatory's Journal of Online Trust and Safety precedes a month of research by Protect Children, a Finnish human rights group.

Researchers placed surveys on the darknet, tagged with code words used by people searching for child sexual abuse material. About 15,000 people responded and researchers carried out detailed studies on 1,500 who replied in full to the survey, the report said.

The report quoted Tegan Insoll, specialist researcher at Protect Children, as saying: "This is really significant. We now have a peer-reviewed study to prove that watching [CSAM] can increase the risk of contact."

"Many offenders claim that watching does not extend to harming children [directly] but we show it can increase the risk of contact and there are other factors linked to dangerous behaviour," Insoll added.

According to him, the darker the material somebody watches, the greater the chance for the person to directly contact a child.

Also, large number of those watch CSAM first saw child abuse material online before the age of 18.

According to a researcher, this is a massive human rights issue, as children have rights to wellbeing and health.

The UK's only helpline for people who want to stop looking at illegal child abuse material online has reported a "monumental'' increase in people calling.

The Stop it Now! Helpline, which supports people to stop watching such material, reported a "monumental" spike in people responding, according to the report. The helpline helps those worried about themselves or others having sexual thoughts or behaviours towards children.

Doubling from the previous year, as many as 165,000 people called up the helpline online or by phone over 2021.

Experts link the rise in response to the pandemic induced job loss, and isolation leading to increased porn habits.

Donald Findlater, director of the Stop It Now! helpline said, "Many of those who contact us started out on mainstream porn sites and feel they need more extreme content. A few are struggling with a long-standing sexual interest in children and think that looking at 'only pictures' is a way of managing that interest. Everyone needs to know [this] is illegal and children are harmed by it," The guardian reported.

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TAGS:Online abuse
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