'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

See all articles by Olivia Cullen

Olivia Cullen

University of Calgary - Faculty of Social Work

Keri Zug Ernst

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Natalie Dawes

University of Calgary - Faculty of Social Work

Warren Binford

University of Colorado Law School

Gina Dimitropoulos

University of Calgary - Faculty of Social Work

Date Written: November 26, 2020

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Cullen, Olivia and Ernst, Keri Zug and Dawes, Natalie and Binford, W. Warren Hill and 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 (November 26, 2020). 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)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3738305

Olivia Cullen

University of Calgary - Faculty of Social Work

Canada

Keri Zug Ernst

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Natalie Dawes

University of Calgary - Faculty of Social Work ( email )

Canada

W. Warren Hill Binford (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

Gina Dimitropoulos

University of Calgary - Faculty of Social Work ( email )

Canada

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