Definitions of Child Sexual Abuse

Danger of the Internet

People can get in trouble before they even realize it. When it is so easy to access sexually explicit materials on the Internet, users can find themselves acting on curiosities they didn’t have before. Some people find themselves losing control over their use of pornography, for example by spending more and more time viewing it and, for some, looking for new and different types of pornography, including images of children. Some people accidentally find sexual images of children and are curious or aroused by them. They may justify their behavior by saying they weren’t looking for the pictures, they just “stumbled across” them, etc. If you find what you believe to be sexual images of children on the Internet, report this immediately to authorities by contacting the Cybertipline. If someone you know is concerned about their Internet activity, seek the help of professionals who specialize in this area.

Some frequent users of adult pornography may get bored with these images and begin to look for pictures of different types of sexual encounters. Not everyone who views child pornography is sexually attracted to children. They might find the images arousing because they are new or different from sexual situations they have seen before. The might get a thrill from the risk-taking involved in looking at something that is illegal.

Viewing child pornography can affect someone’s judgment about what is acceptable with children. The easy access to pictures of children or underage teens in sexual poses or engaged in sexual activities may reduce someone’s inhibitions about behaving sexually with children or teens.  Even viewing questionably legal images of adult models made to look much younger (even prepubescent) can distort a person's understanding of what is acceptable behavior with children or teens.  This can lead someone who may not be sexually attracted to children to behave sexually towards a child.

Child pornography is illegal because it is evidence of a crime and harms all children. Some people refer to  child pornography images as “crime scene photographs” to make the point that taking such pictures and  behaving sexually with a child are crimes. Viewing child pornography perpetuates an industry which harms children. Some adults may justify their viewing of child pornography by saying to themselves or others that they would never behave sexually with a child in-person. You can remind them that it is still illegal.

Six things you can do if you are concerned about someone else’s sexual activity online or use of illegal images

  • Suggest that they visit a self-guided recovery website like to learn more. You might download helpful materials to review with your friend or loved one.
  • Discuss with them why child pornography is illegal.
  • Share how their behavior impacts you. If you are hurt, embarrassed or angry, tell them how you feel.
  • Tell them that if they get caught, they are not the only ones who will be hurt if their arrest is made public. They will hurt their family, their friends, and disappoint people who trust them.
  • Share the fact that there are severe penalties for getting caught viewing or having child pornography. They can lose their job, be embarrassed by media coverage, go to jail or prison, and have to register as a sex offender.
  • Remind them that they are not alone and there is help available to them. There are treatment providers  who specialize in working with adults who have lost control of their online sexual activity. They understand and know how to help.


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Our Resources

Helpful Organizations
Organization: CROGA

Description: A free and anonymous guide to help identify and explore behaviors associated with accessing illegal sexual images online. This self-directed program offers techniques to cope with difficult emotions and thoughts which impact illegal use of the Internet. Not meant as a substitute for specialized treatment.
Organization: Internet Behavior Consulting Company


Cybersex addiction and internet addiction resources useful to professionals, parents and those concerned about their own cybersexual behavior. Includes an online workbook

Organization: Cybertipline (1.800.843.5678)

Description: An online and phone service accepting leads on illegal images, sexual exploitation or enticement of a child online. Up-to-date and comprehensive resources on safety and reporting

Helpful Articles
Title:Out of the Shadows of the Net
Abstract:This book brings hope and healing to men and women struggling to understand and overcome online sexual addiction
Patrick Carnes PhD
Patrick Carnes PhD, David L. Delmonico, PhD
Patrick Carnes PhD, David L. Delmonico, PhD, Elizabeth Griffin MA
Related Files:
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