New study reveals patterns of parents who produce child sexual abuse material

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has today released a paper describing the circumstances, patterns and dynamics of cases where parents produce and distribute child sexual abuse material (CSAM) of their children.

Production and distribution of child sexual abuse material by parental figures involved an analysis of 82 cases of parental CSAM production and distribution, identified over a ten-year period from 2009.

AIC Deputy Director Dr Rick Brown said the findings reveal distinct patterns and scenarios of parental CSAM offending that can inform prevention, early intervention and improved responses to victims.

“While parents are often positioned as partners in online safety education and abuse prevention, this study highlights the significant role played by parents in the production of CSAM, and the lack of evidence and guidance for policymakers, practitioners and law enforcement in this crucial area,” said Dr Brown.

Key findings of the research show offenders were most often the male parental figures of the victims with more than 90 per cent of cases involving the biological father (52%) or a stepfather, parent’s partner or foster father (41%).

Females were also involved as perpetrators, with 28 per cent of cases involving the biological mother of the victim. In 8 cases the mother was the sole offender and was producing CSAM for the benefit of men online or men they knew.

Report author Dr Michael Salter from the University of New South Wales said three ‘types’ of parental CSAM producers emerged from the study: the male offender who forms adult relationships and has children of his own to exploit; the male offender who forms a relationship with a woman and exploits her children or seeks to obtain children by some other means; and the biological mother who produces CSAM of her children at the behest of males she knows in person or online.

“The study showed that victims were predominately girls under the age of nine. The documented impacts on all victims are significant and include self-blame/guilt, grief/loss, fear and trauma, emphasising the need for specialist support in this area,” said Dr Salter.

The report is available at