Analysis of Sexual Abuse of Children Online and CAM Investigations in Finland
Keywords:child abuse, child pornography, cyberbullying, cybercrime, CAM, child abuse material, case study research
Children who use their free time with phones and computers online, interact with the digital environment on a daily basis, where they will often make social contacts with their friends as well as exchange photos and videos with them. However, children often make contact incautiously with new people online and may risk falling victim to sexual harassment or sexual abuse via sexually charged messages, requests to send nude photos or other Child Abuse Materials (CAM). Most of these cases are unreported crimes. Victims do not always understand that they could be victims. Sexual abuse of children endangers children’s psychological, physical and social health, and is against the interests of the child and their human rights. The European Commission’s Internal Security Fund Police (ISFP) aims to fund projects on fighting cybercrime and child sexual abuse including digital investigations. This paper provides background information for an innovation project intended to get funding from the ISFP. The case study composes up-to-date pictures of sexual abuse of children online in Finland by applying (1) observations of national police officers who have worked with CAM investigations as a tactical, technical or lead investigator to get unwritten knowledge of the challenge of investigations in the future, and (2) earlier research in Finland. Finnish Child Victim Surveys from past years provide a nationally representative sample of the experiences of children between 12 and 15 years of age where online grooming and sexual abuse is reported. In spring 2021, Save the Children Finland published 11-17-year-old children’s experiences of and thoughts on online grooming, and its results show grooming to be a common phenomenon and that a portion of children reported contact being made sexual from its very beginning. This case study combines qualitative and quantitative methods for achieving different aspects and paradigms over the CAM investigations in Finland and are now up to date and would describe how crime investigators have to observe CAM crimes in crime investigations and how cases would be investigated effectively and reliably in a timely fashion and without unnecessary mental workload.
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