Pedophile communities on the Dark Web promote sexual violence against children in many ways

Publication date 29.8.2022 9.43
News item

The topic of the Police University College’s new research report is the darkest side of the Dark Web: online pedophile communities. Understanding the operating models of online communities is one way to prevent sexual violence against children.

The analysis, based on research literature, studies online sexual violence targeted at children, and the perpetrators of child sexual abuse operating on the Dark Web. The publication focuses on the psychological side of sexual violence against children, including the reasoning and justification by pedophiles for their crimes, online communities of pedophiles and the underlying functional logic.

“It is of paramount importance to identify the role that the Dark Web and the communities that operate there play in promoting sexual violence against children. Such acts are not singular or occasional cases. Instead, there is often a community of perpetrators in the background,” says Researcher Salla Huikuri. 

“The pedophile communities on the Dark Web offer an excellent breeding ground for criminals to share, and thus strengthen, their sexual perversions. In their communities, pedophiles offer advice and guidance for each other on how to engage in criminal activities and, for example, how to alleviate the consequent feelings of guilt.”

Pedophile communities active on the Dark Web promote sexual violence against children in many ways. For example, their hierarchical structure promotes commitment to the community, because participation in the activities is often a prerequisite for being allowed to participate. At the same time, contacts with other pedophiles create an impression of pedophilia being much more common and normal than it actually is, while the virtual environment offers the possibility to think that the victims of online sexual violence are not real children, but images only. 

This research report is intended for example for law enforcement authorities, civil society actors, researchers and media that require information about recent research on online sexual violence against children. 

The report is produced by the Police University College’s Procsead project, part of the ReDirection Project led by Protect Children. The aim of ReDirection is to prevent the use and distribution of child sexual abuse material on the Dark Web.

The research is funded by the international End Violence Against Children organisation. 

Police University College Research and development operations Tampere