June 20, 2024

What is Child Sex Abuse Material (CSAM)?

Child Sex Abuse Material (CSAM), also referred to as “child pornography,” involves photos and videos depicting the graphic sexual abuse of children. The term “child pornography” is misleading because it implies consent, which children cannot legally give. As RAINN.org states, “every explicit photo or video of a kid is actually evidence that the child has been a victim of sexual abuse.” This distinction underscores the serious and criminal nature of these acts.

The Harsh Reality of Child Sex Abuse Material

Children, primarily girls, are the most common targets of CSAM. This material involves children of all ages, with prepubescent children at the highest risk. Most often, the perpetrator is someone the child knows and trusts, allowing them to be alone with the child to commit the abuse. Unlike physical sexual abuse, the trauma of CSAM persists. Once these images are online, they can never be completely removed; the abuse is never-ending. The child must then live with the fact that someone, somewhere, is finding sexual gratification in their abuse.

The Pervasiveness of Child Sex Abuse Material

CSAM is readily available through social networking platforms, file-sharing sites, gaming devices, and mobile apps. Abusers can produce CSAM without ever meeting the child in person. The use of mobile phones means that abusers don’t even need to be home to produce and consume CSAM content. They can target your children from virtually anywhere. More commonly then not, children are targeted through social media like Snapchat, Discord, and Instagram.

Empowering Prevention and Support

Fear-based tactics do not effectively prevent risky online behavior or encourage victims to seek help. Instead, we should educate children and parents on what to do if something goes wrong online, how to prevent situations from escalating, and how to support others who may be victims. By fostering open communication and awareness, we can better protect our children from the dangers of CSAM.


If you suspect someone has been the victim of Child Sex Abuse Material, take immediate steps to report it. Contact the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (1-800-CALL-FBI) to file a report. Furthermore, notify your local law enforcement authorities and, if your child asks, find a therapist that specializes in this type of abuse to help your child through the next steps.

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Josh Gillispie