'Our Laws Have Not Caught up with the Technology': Understanding Challenges and Facilitators in Investigating and Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse Materials in the United States
Cullen, Olivia; Zug Ernst, Keri; Dawes, Natalie; Binford, Warren; & Dimitropoulos, Gina. “Our Laws Have Not Caught up with the Technology”: Understanding Challenges and Facilitators in Investigating and Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse Materials in the United States. LAWS (November 2020).
19 Pages Posted: 5 Feb 2021
Date Written: November 26, 2020
With technological advances, the creation and distribution of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) has become one of the fastest growing illicit online industries in the United States. Perpetrators are becoming increasingly sophisticated and exploit cutting-edge technology, making it difficult for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute these crimes. There is limited research on best practices for investigating cases of CSAM. The aim of this research was to understand challenges and facilitators for investigating and prosecuting cases of CSAM as a foundation to develop best practices in this area. To meet these objectives, qualitative interviews and focus groups were conducted with participants throughout the western United States. Two major themes arose from this research: Theme 1: Challenges to investigating and prosecuting CSAM; and Theme 2: Facilitators to investigating and prosecuting CSAM. Within Theme 1, subthemes included technology and internet service providers, laws, lack of resources, and service provider mental health and well-being. Within Theme 2, subthemes included multidisciplinary teams and training. This research is a first step in understanding the experiences of law enforcement and prosecutors in addressing CSAM. Findings from this study can be used to support the development of best practices for those in the justice system investigating and prosecuting CSAM.
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