We need to understand the impact of child sexual abuse (CSA) so we can provide appropriate support to children. We live in an increasingly digital world but know relatively little about the effects of CSA carried out using online or digital technologies (technology-assisted CSA, or TA-CSA). We commissioned researchers from the University of Bath, University of Birmingham and CEOP to find out more.
The research team carried out interviews and questionnaires with a group of young people aged 15-19, who were recruited through the NSPCC, Childline and the National Crime Agency. The research focused on TA-CSA in particular, but sexual abuse often involves both offline and online contexts and environments.
Professionals were asked how they perceive TA-CSA, and what impact they think it has on young people.
Authors: Dr Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis, Dr Elly Hanson, Dr Helen Whittle and Professor Anthony Beech
TA-CSA has as much impact on a child as offline CSA. The young people we interviewed told us how being sexually abused had affected them. They experienced:
Sometimes, the use of technology in CSA caused additional psychological effects.
To prevent CSA and TA-CSA, young people think professionals should:
Please cite as: Hamilton-Giachritsis, C. et al (2017) "Everyone deserves to be happy and safe": a mixed methods study exploring how online and offline child sexual abuse impact young people and how professionals respond to it (PDF). London: NSPCC.
Use our information and resources to help you recognise child sexual abuse when working or volunteering with children. Includes what signs to look out for and how to respond to concerns.
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Any child or young person can experience online abuse. If a child or young person has disclosed that they've experienced abuse online, or you've noticed something worrying, find out how to respond appropriately.