Resources for Professionals
The resources (articles and books) listed below provide an overview of current research and knowledge around internet offending and internet offenders. We have split research into various sections, which cover:
This research list is not exhaustive and new research is continually being published. We endeavour to keep our research list as up-to-date as possible, but if there is something which you have found helpful which is not listed below, please get in touch and we can update our resources. You can contact us anonymously via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online Vs. Offline Offenders: Implications for Risk Assessment and Treatment
Babchishin, K. M., Hanson, R. K., & Vanzuylen, H. (2015). Online child pornography offenders are different: A meta-analysis of the characteristics of online and offline sex offenders against children. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 44, 45-66.
Sex offenders against children and mixed offenders (both contact and internet offences) were found to score higher on indicators of antisociality than internet offenders. Internet offenders were also more likely to have psychological barriers to sexual offending than sex offenders against children and mixed offenders (e.g., greater victim empathy). Mixed offenders were found to be the most pedophilic, even more than CPOs. The findings suggest that mixed offenders were a particularly high risk group.
Buschman, J., Wilcox, D. K., Oelricj, M., & Hackett, S. (2010). Cybersex offender risk assessment. An explorative study. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 16, 197–209.
The current meta-analysis compared the characteristics of online child pornography-only offenders, typical (offline) sex offenders against children, and offenders with both child pornography and contact sex offences against children (mixed).
Bourkea, M. L., Fragomelib, L., Detara, P. J., Sullivanc, M. A., Meyled, E., & O'Riordane, M. (2014). The use of tactical polygraph with sex offenders. Journal of Sexual Aggression: An international, interdisciplinary forum for research, theory and practice, (ahead-of-print). doi: 10.1080/13552600.2014.886729.
The study examines an investigative method referred to as ‘tactical polygraph’ and describes its effectiveness in identifying previously undetected sexual offending within this population.
Elliott, I. A., Beech, A. R., Mandeville-Norden, R., & Hayes, E. (2009). Psychological Profiles of Internet Sexual Offenders Comparisons With Contact Sexual Offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 21, 76-92.
Contact offenders were found to have significantly more victim empathy distortions and cognitive distortions than Internet offenders. An increase in scores of scales of locus of control, perspective taking, empathic concern, overassertiveness, victim empathy distortions, cognitive distortions, and cognitive impulsivity were found to be predictive of a contact offense type. An increase in scores on scales of fantasy and underassertiveness were predictive of an Internet offense type.
Magaletta, P. R., Faust, E., Bickart, W., & McLearen, A. M. (2014). Exploring clinical and personality characteristics of adult male internet-only child pornography offenders. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 58, 137-153.
This study explores the potential Clinical needs of Internet Offenders. Results indicate that interpersonal deficits and depression featured most prominently in the profiles of internet offenders. Consistent with prior research, they also obtained lower scores on aggression and dominance compared with the child molesters and the male normative sample.
McManus, M. A., Long, M. L., Alison, L., & Almond, L. (2014). Factors associated with contact child sexual abuse in a sample of indecent image offenders. Journal of Sexual Aggression, (ahead-of-print). doi: 10.1080/13552600.2014.927009
Key discriminatory factors that differentiated dual offenders (those who were convicted of offences involving IIOC and had a previous contact child sexual offence) were: access to children, previous offence history, sexual grooming and possession of IIOC that depicts similar-aged victims. In contrast, non-contact offenders could be identified from their greater amount and wider range of IIOC possession.
Quayle, E., & Taylor, M. (2002). Paedophiles, pornography and the Internet: Assessment issues. British Journal of Social Work, 32, 863–875.
This paper discusses the role of indecent images of children, as well as how images are accessed and what implications this might have for assessment. Interviews were undertaken with Social Workers and Probation Officers.
Internet Offender General Knowledge
Beech, A. R., Elliott, I. A., Birgden, A., & Findlater, D. (2008). The internet and child sexual offending: A criminological review. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 13, 216-228.
This paper outlines the current literature on what is known about the processes by which individuals utilize the Internet for child sexual abuse.
Kloess, J. A., Beech, A. R., & Harkins, L. (2014). Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevalence, Process, and Offender Characteristics. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 15, 126-139.
This review provides an overview of current knowledge and understanding of the process of sexual grooming and exploitation of children via the Internet. Specifically, the prevalence of online sexual grooming and exploitation is explored as well as associated challenges relating to the identification of its occurrence.
Niklas Långstrӧm, N., Babchishin, K, M., Fazel, S., Lichtenstein, P., & Frisell, T. (2015). Sexual offending runs in families: A 37-year nationwide study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 0, 1-8.
In a Swedish population sample, the authors report strong evidence of familial clustering of sexual offending, primarily accounted for by genes rather than shared environmental influences.
Seto, M. C., Hermann, C. A., Kjellgren, C., Priebe, G., Svedin, C. G., & Långström, N. (2015). Viewing child pornography: Prevalence and correlates in a representative community sample of young Swedish men. Archives of sexual behavior, 44, 67-79.
This study explored risk factors for child pornography use in the general population. 84 (4.2 %) out of 1,978 young Swedish men in the sample reported they had viewed child pornography. Factors such as ‘frequent pornography use’ and ‘ever viewed violent pornography’ were associated with a higher likelihood of viewing child pornography.
Internet Offender Offence Theories
Elliott, I. A., & Beech, A. R. (2009). Understanding online child pornography use: Applying sexual offense theory to internet offenders. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14, 180-193.
This review outlines the links between various theories of child sexual abuse and our current knowledge of individuals who commit offenses related to online child pornography.
Merdian, H. L., Curtis, C., Takker, J., Wilson, N., & Boer, D. P. (2013). The three dimensions of online child pornography offending. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 19, 121-132.
This paper proposes a model for the classification of child pornography offenders as an aid for their assessment and treatment, deduced from empirical studies and existing typologies for child pornography offenders.
Middleton, D., Elliott, I. A., Mandeville-Norden, R., & Beech, A. R. (2006). An investigation into the applicability of the Ward and Siegert Pathways Model of child sexual abuse with Internet offenders. Psychology, Crime & Law, 12, 589-603.
This study examined the applicability of the Ward and Siegert (Psychology, Crime & Law, 8, 319–351, 2002) Pathways Model of Sexual Offending to a sample of Internet offenders. Two pathways were found to be particularly prominent: the intimacy deficits pathway and the emotional dysregulation pathway.
Quayle, E., & Taylor, M. (2003). Model of problematic Internet use in people with a sexual interest in children. Cyber Psychology & Behavior, 6, 93-106.
The authors generate a model of internet offending that emphasizes the role of cognitions in both the etiology, engagement with and problematic use of the Internet for those with a sexual interest in children. This model is a first step towards providing a conceptual framework for such offending that will help inform both assessment and therapy.
Internet Offender Treatment
Beier, K. M., Grundmann, D., Kuhle, L. F., Scherner, G., Konrad, A., & Amelung, T. (2015). The German Dunkelfeld Project: A pilot study to prevent child sexual abuse and the use of child abusive images. The journal of Sexual Medicine, 12, 529-542.
This study assesses a treatment program to enhance behavioural control and reduce associated dynamic risk factors (DRF) in self-motivated undetected & unprosecuted paedophiles/hebephiles in the Dunkelfeld (German: ‘Dark Field’).
Middleton, D., Mandeville-Norden, R., & Hayes, E. (2009). Does treatment work with internet sex offenders? Emerging findings from the Internet Sex Offender Treatment Programme (i-SOTP). Journal of Sexual Aggression, 15, 5-19.
This paper reports on the clinical impact as assessed following completion of psychometric assessments pre- and post-treatment by a sample of 264 convicted internet offenders. Findings suggest an improvement in deficits concerning socio-affective functioning and a decrease in pro-offending attitudes following course completion.
Neto, A. C. D. A., Eyland, S., Ware, J., Galouzis, J., & Kevin, M. (2013). Internet sexual offending: Overview of potential contributing factors and intervention strategies. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 20, 168-181.
This article examines the impact of Internet problematic behaviours on the potential for recidivism among online sexual offenders. It argues for specialised treatment for these offenders whilst providing an overview of approaches that are currently used in other areas to treat problematic behaviours. It discusses how they could be used in the treatment of Internet sexual offenders.
Seto, M. C., & Ahmed, A. G. (2014). Treatment and Management of Child Pornography Use. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 37, 207-214.
This article examines how assessment is essential to effective treatment and risk management of child pornography offenders. The authors state that effective treatment and management strategies must take the motivations for child pornography use into account.
Internet Offender Recidivism
Seto, M. C., & Eke, A. W. (2005). The Criminal Histories and Later Offending of Child Pornography Offenders. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 17, 201-210.
This study reports that child pornography offenders with prior criminal records were significantly more likely to offend again in the follow-up period of the study. Child pornography offenders who had committed a prior or concurrent contact sexual offense were the most likely to offend again, either generally or sexually.
Seto, M. C., Hanson, R. K., & Babchishin, K. M. (2011). Contact sexual offending by men with online sexual offenses. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 23, 124-145.
This study is comprised of two meta-analyses. The first meta-analysis found that approximately 1 in 8 online offenders (12%) have an officially known contact sexual offense history at the time of their index offense. The second meta-analysis revealed that 4.6% of online offenders committed a new sexual offense of some kind during a 1.5- to 6-year follow-up; 2.0% committed a contact sexual offense and 3.4% committed a new child pornography offense.
Webb, L., Craissati, J., & Keen, S. (2007). Characteristics of Internet child pornography offenders: A comparison with child molesters. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 19, 449-465.
This study explored the similarities and dissimilarities between child pornography offenders and a matched group of contact child sexual offenders. The Internet Offender sample reported more psychological difficulties in adulthood and fewer prior sexual convictions. The Contact Offender sample scored higher on antisocial variables, such as, ‘acting out’ and breaking social rules. The follow up research was carried out after a short period of time at risk—averaging 18 months—but suggested that internet sex offenders were significantly less likely to fail in the community than child molesters in terms of all types of recidivism.
Female Internet Offenders
Martellozzo, E., Nehring, D., & Taylor, H. (2010). Online child sexual abuse by female offenders: An Exploratory study. International Journal of Cyber Criminology, 4, 592-609.
This article aims to increase knowledge and understanding of the problem of online child sexual abuse by female offenders by utilising qualitative data collected at the Paedophile Unit at the London Metropolitan Police.
Books: An Overview of Internet Offending
Seto, M. C. (2013). Internet sex offenders. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
This book examines research conducted over the last decade regarding the use and contribution of the internet to sexual crimes including the creation and dissemination of child pornography, and online and offline solicitation efforts leading to contact offences such as rape and sexual assault. The author examines the etiology and characteristics of online offenders, the relation between online and offline offending, and provides practical information relevant to risk assessment as well as clinical and legal intervention.
Taylor, M., & Quayle, E. (2003). Child pornography: An Internet crime. Hove, UK: Brunner-Routledge.
This book draws on research findings to examine how child pornography is used on the Internet and the social context in which such use occurs. The authors develop a model of offending behaviour to better help understand and deal with the processes of offending. Detailed case studies and offenders' own accounts are used to illustrate the processes involved in offending and treatment.
Wortley, R., & Smallbone, S. (2012). Internet Child Pornography: Causes, Investigation and Prevention. ABC-CLIO.
This book provides a comprehensive overview of the issue of online offending by describing the problem of child pornography, examining the impact of the Internet, and presenting a profile of internet offenders. The book examines prevention efforts designed to reduce access to child pornography, law enforcement responses designed to catch known offenders, and treatment responses designed to reduce reoffending.
Partners of men who use online pornography
Manning, J. C. (2006). The impact of Internet pornography on marriage and the family: A review of the research. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 13, 131-165.
This is a review of existing research around the impact of online pornography on marriage and family. The author reports many negative trends. The author proposes that these findings provide an informed starting point for policy makers, educators, clinicians, and researchers.
Schneider, J. (2003). The impact of compulsive cybersex behaviours on the family. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 18, 329-354.
This paper explores the impact of cybersex on the spouse/partner of the addict; the impact of cybersex on emotional states, divorce and interest in relational sex. Partners overwhelmingly felt that cyber affairs were as emotionally painful to them as live or offline affairs.
Stubley, A. (2015). He's a family man, but this is a dark side of him that I didn't know about. The lived experience of Internet offenders’ partners. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Teesside University, Middlesbrough.
This study investigated the experience of women whose partner was arrested for downloading indecent images of children over the Internet. The findings indicate that the experience of having a partner arrested for downloading indecent images of children is consistently characterised by an adverse emotional reaction and cognitive responses of confusion, sense-making, and re-appraisal. Women reported experiencing anxiety about the impact upon significant others and becoming sensitised to other people’s views, with the anticipation of negative responses. For carers of children, the woman who does not end her relationship with the offender enters into an oppositional relationship with Children’s Services.
Zitzman, S. T., & Butler, M. H. (2009). Wives' experience of husbands' pornography use and concomitant deception as an attachment threat in the adult pair-bond relationship. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 16, 210-240.
In this study, overall, wives reported global mistrust in their husband, indicative of attachment breakdown, following their husband’s pornography use. The researchers report three themes from which this mistrust stems from: perceived attachment infidelity, sense of distance and disconnection from husband and being emotionally and psychologically unsafe in the relationship.
Philpot, T. (2008). Understanding Child Abuse: The partners of child sex offenders tell their stories. UK: Routledge.
This book looks at women whose partners are child sex offenders. Much of the book is devoted to the voices of the women themselves, telling their stories and how they feel about the situations in which they found themselves, how they coped, and how they remade their lives and those of their families. They describe what they learned from their experience and how it changed them.