Catherine Hamilton-Giachritsis, Anthony Beech and Helen Whittle have been awarded a £70K grant from the NSPCC to investigate the impact of online sexual abuse on children working with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
The sexual abuse of children online has exploded in recent years and the psychological repercussions can be detrimental to the development and wellbeing of young people. However, whilst the risk posed to young people online is an ever increasing cause for concern, the research in this field is extremely limited. For example, there are different forms of online and offline sexual abuse, with potentially different impacts – based both on the permanence of online images but also the physical presence (or absence) of the offender. For example, it is envisaged that a young person is likely to have different cognitions and attributions about an event based in part on whether the abuse occurred a) offline only, b) offline but with images uploaded online, and c) online abuse only where the offender is never physically present at all. Victims of each of these types of offending will be included in the study in order to inform education and prevention programmes.