Sexual abuse images in cyberspace: expanding the ecology of the child

J Child Sex Abus. 2013;22(4):398-415. doi: 10.1080/10538712.2013.781091.


Cyberspace has added a new dimension to the ecology of children made the subjects of sexual abuse images distributed online. These images cannot be permanently removed and can continue to circulate in cyberspace forever. A review of the current literature suggests that helping professionals are not consistently aware of or do not probe possibilities of online sexual victimization in the investigation, assessment, and treatment of child sexual abuse. Nor is this issue adequately addressed in their education and training. There are gaps in the literature regarding how to identify and provide treatment for these children. New assessment and treatment targets are needed to enhance existing practice approaches. A contemporary ecological model that incorporates an explicit consideration of the cybersystem is provided as a starting point for practitioners to be aware of the possibility that images of child sexual abuse were recorded and distributed online.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / psychology*
  • Crime Victims / rehabilitation
  • Erotica / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Models, Psychological