Child sexual abuse material on the darknet: A script analysis of how offenders operate

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The development of online technologies in recent decades has facilitated the distribution and consumption of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) over the internet, which also led to the emergence of CSAM on the darknet—the segment of the internet hidden from the general public.

Using data obtained from interviews with online investigators, this study uses crime script analysis to reconstruct step-by-step how offenders operate on the darknet. The findings highlight the three phases of the script: (1) the crime set-up phase, (2) the crime completion phase, and (3) the crime continuation phase. Scripting is a practical method of developing concrete ways to address this problem. The implications of using crime scripts to fight CSAM are discussed.