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Online Child Sexual Abuse – Causes and Consequences

Conference contribution
Authors Malin Joleby
Carolina Lunde
Linda Jonsson
Sara Landström
Carl Göran Svedin
Published in The 13th Annual Meeting of the Nordic Network for research on Psychology and Law. Katowice, Poland: 22-23 September
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Psychology
Language en
Subject categories Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


The technical progress and widespread use of internet in today’s society is not all beneficial. Even younger children have daily access to internet via smartphones or computers, and recent statistics from Sweden indicate that there may have been a drastic increase in sexual exploitation of children. To date, there is a lack of knowledge about the processes that surround online sexual abuse and the psychological consequences for the victims. A Swedish study showed that one out of five high school children have published sexually self-exposing material online, indicating that internet is a natural arena for teens to explore their sexuality. However, some teens reported that they did not expose themselves voluntarily, but had been coerced to send pictures of themselves. Alarmingly, preliminary Swedish statistics suggest that children who were victims of sexual abuse online suffered as many and as serious psychological consequences as children who were victims of penetrating abuse in real life. Evidently, it is of great importance to gain knowledge about the processes surrounding these crimes to be able to understand, and to fight, them. The current PHD-project aims to further the knowledge about online sexual abuse. This will be done by quantitative and qualitative analyses of a large number of court documents from 2012 and onwards. Emphasis will be put on investigating how and why the crimes were initiated, and how they evolved over time. The psychological consequences will be studied by interviewing victims of online sexual abuse and qualitatively analyse their stories.

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