Developing child protection strategies: a critical study of offenders’ use of information technology for the sexual exploitation of children
Abstract: The overall aim of this thesis is to critically explore offenders’ use of information technology for the sexual exploitation of children, focusing upon child abusive material and grooming, in relation to the societal response, i.e. legal and technological regulation models. The following aspects are highlighted (i) How can offenders’ use of information technology for child abusive material and grooming be understood in relation to current regulation models? (i) What alternative models for regulation of child abusive material and grooming could be proposed? (iii) What are the implications of applying a critical approach? The motivation for conducting this research has been to contribute, with empirically based research, to the development of effective child protection strategies in relation to child abusive material and grooming. The empirical material used in this thesis consists of court and police records and interviews with offenders. The result shows that offenders’ use of information technology for child abusive material and grooming is more complex and multifaceted than current regulation models have managed to envisage. It has been recognized that the offenders are aware of the illegality in their activities and thus the risk of being observed by law enforcement and have therefore developed different technological and social strategies to be able to continue with their criminal activities. Therefore, this thesis suggests that existing regulation models such as law and the use of technology for filtering should be re-evaluated and that further dimensions such as norms and markets should be considered.
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