Case study reflections of an internet child abuse material offender informing the development of a proposed assessment instrument

Published date17 January 2023
Date17 January 2023
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Criminology & forensic psychology,Criminal psychology,Sociology,Sociology of crime & law,Deviant behaviour,Public policy & environmental management,Policing,Criminal justice
AuthorCatherine Garrington,Sally Kelty,Debra Rickwood,Douglas Pieter Boer
Case study reections of an internet
child abuse material offender informing
the development of a proposed
assessment instrument
Catherine Garrington, Sally Kelty, Debra Rickwood and Douglas Pieter Boer
Purpose Internet child abuse material (I/CAM) offences negatively affect children in our own
communities and in the wider virtual world. This study aims to understand the differentiation between
online (internet)and offline (contact) offenders. The developmentof the Estimated Risk for Internet Child
Sexual Offending (ERICSO), a proposed instrument for I/CAM offenders, incorporated a case study
componentto test on a known offender before thetool is applied to a wider sample.
Design/methodology/approach The case study approach provides a unique opportunity for
researchers to considerreflections from an I/CAM offender. These insights provide uniqueperspectives
on areas for further exploration,including suggestions for considerationin theassessment and treatment
of I/CAM offenders.
Findings Mr A is a male convicted of possessing I/CAM with previous convictions for contact child
sexual offending. During the development of the ERICSO, Mr A provided commentary on proposed
questions basedon his experiences as an offender and his communicationswith other offenders. Mr A’s
feedback was generally consistent with current research findings, with notable suggestions in
recognising the importance of differentiating between fantasy/reality, violence/voyeurism and the role
technology plays in I/CAM offences. These reflections will be considered in conjunction with ongoing
development and validity studies of the ERICSO to contribute to the targeted assessment and risk-
relevanttreatment for I/CAM offenders.
Originality/value The use of a case study in the development of a proposed assessment instrument
providesa unique perspective to improve ecologicalvalidity.
Keywords Internet offenders, Child abuse material, Assessment instrument, Case study,
Risk assessment, Development
Paper type Case study
History of internet child abuse material offences
Sexual offences against children are serious offences that carry significant criminal
penalties and sanctions in most jurisdictions worldwide. The nature of these offences has
changed substantially over time, with the internet providing an electronic platform for
offenders with a sexual interest in children to commit online crimes, including accessing
and possessing I/CAM. Research commentary into offenders who produced child abuse
material (CAM, then known as “child pornography” [1]) is available from the 1970s into the
1980s. The rise of the internet in the 1990s produced early research into the shift by CAM
offenders from real world/in-person to online mediums and internet CAM (I/CAM) offences.
In 1995, Davis, McShane and Williams published an insightful paper on the restrictions and
Catherine Garrington, Sally
Kelty, Debra Rickwood and
Douglas Pieter Boer are all
based at the Faculty of
Health, University of
Canberra, Canberra,
Received 2 March 2022
Revised 9 May 2022
7 November 2022
13 December 2022
Accepted 13 December 2022
DOI 10.1108/JCP-03-2022-0007 VOL. 13 NO. 1 2023, pp. 47-61, ©Emerald Publishing Limited, ISSN 2009-3829 jJOURNAL OF CRIMINAL PSYCHOLOGY jPAGE 47

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