Doubt about a statistic. "85% of people who view child sexual abuse material online are hands-on abusers"

Hello guys, a while ago I saw a video of an actress that I follow on Instagram raising awareness about CSA and it was said that “85% of people who view child sexual abuse material online are hands-on abusers”. I even doubt this data at the time but I still shared the video with a group of people I know online because I thought the initiative was noble. But I really wanted to know if this statistic is really correct/accurate. This was something that came back to my mind recently. Can anyone here say if it really is 85%? I thought it was less than that
Here is the video if anyone here wants to know exactly what I’m talking about:

For anyone to have such statistics, they would have to know every person who saw CSEM at least one time. This is not the case however, the majority of people watching CSEM are not known and are never discovered, so it can be assumed that this information is false.

I suspect that maybe someone took the statistics that “85% of child abusers previously watched CSEM” and reversed the sentence to “85% of people who view CSEM become child abusers”.

In a sense, I would say that 100% of people watching CSEM are indirectly supporting child abuse, by generating demand and often financing organizations that use their money to further abuse children for their pleasure. But it’s not accurate to turn my opinion into a claim that “100% CSEM users turn into child predators” or anything even similar to that claim.

It also seems like a repetition of an old debunked argument that “Porn causes rape”, but in the child version. There is research that shows the correlation between porn accessibility and sexual abuse, including CSEM and child sexual abuse, is decreasing. The conclusion is that pornography and CSEM don’t increase rates of sexual abuse (and might potentially lower it, but such a claim has to be yet proven since we cannot derive such a conclusion from the data of that research).


There has been some platform that was used to exhange CSEM recently shut down in Germany. I think that it had an enormous amount of users stated in the article. You can find out the news I talk about, take this number, divide it by the amount of people who has been convicted for commiting sexual exploitation of a minor in Germany, and have your answer.

Unless that site wasn’t german-centric. But such information can still work as a rule of thumb, to somewhat guess the validity of the claim you ask about.


Statistically unfounded.
I honestly don’t even know where such a statistic could even come from, considering that child pornography offenders (CPOs), contact sex abuse offenders (CSAOs), and mixed offenders (MOs) are distinct groups, each with their own details, facts, levels of risk, recidivism rates, etc. that separate them.

CPOs who have not committed a contact offense are the majority, and are considered low-risk in terms of subsequent contact offending and criminal recidivism.

CSA offenders, on average, consume less pornography than CPOs, but score higher in terms of recidivism risk than CPOs, and also exhibit psycho-social cognitive disorders and other variables which are typically unrelated to their pornography consumption.
(It should also be pointed out that, on average, only 50% of CPOs exhibit pedophilic tendencies)

Mixed offenders are statistically smaller, but not insignificant. They are defined by their propensity to commit CSA offenses while also consuming CP. This is the group that’s considered the most controversial, as some scholars will claim that pornography consumption is a risk factor, while others claim that it’s not a primary risk factor, or that it’s of no risk at all, or that the data is limited.
There is, however, more succinct and reputable data which suggests that pornography consumption, even for high-risk individuals, is not a risk factor since it may serve as a safe outlet and have potential as a therapeutic since stress from sexual suppression is considered a primary risk factor by a lot of studies.

The overall empirical consensus regarding pornography consumption and subsequent hands-on offending is mixed, but the vast majority of scholars and clinicians tend to assume that the amount of overlap between CPOs and CSA offenders is too small to support a causation hypothesis.
Correlations and associations do exist, but it’s extremely likely that it’s merely a coincidental association, wherein offenders just so happen to consume pornography that corresponds with their tastes, rather than that pornography consumption having any real effect on their propensity to act on their desires.

Here are some articles.

We examined police occurrence and criminal records data for a sample of 201 registered male child pornography offenders originally reported by Seto and Eke (Sex Abus J Res Treat 17:201–210, 2005), extending the average follow-up time for this sample to 5.9 years. In addition, we obtained the same data for another 340 offenders, increasing our full sample to 541 men, with a total average follow-up of 4.1 years. In the extended follow- up of the original sample, 34% of offenders had new charges for any type of reoffense, with 6% charged with a contact sexual offense against a child and an additional 3% charged with historical contact sex offenses (i.e., previously undetected offenses). For the full sample, there was a 32% any recidivism rate; 4% of offenders were charged with new contact sex offences, an additional 2% of offenders were charged with historical contact sex offenses and 7% of offenders were charged with a new child pornography offense. Predictors of new violent (including sexual contact) offending were prior offense history, including violent history, and younger offender age. Approximately a quarter of the sample was sanctioned for a failure on conditional release; in half of these failures, the offenders were in contact with children or used the internet, often to access pornography again.

In the realm of sexual offenses, there has been a decrease in hands-on offenses, but an increase in online offenses against children. The current issue is whether online and offline sexual offenders are alike or differ. This literature review investigates the differences among individuals who have committed child pornography offenses, individuals who have committed contact offenses against children, and individuals who have committed both. This review discusses the various typologies that have been proposed of those who have committed online offenses against children, the diagnostic implications of having committed child pornography offenses, and the current state of treatment and prevention of individuals who have committed online sex offenses against children. The studies examined were found from psychology databases, listserv links, and references of those collected articles. Only articles in English were included in the review. Overall, Internet child pornography offenders (ICPOs) tend to score significantly differently from contact offenders on various psychological measures. These findings may imply that ICPOs have different treatment needs than contact offenders.

  • There is no clear evidence to suggest a relationship between pornography and offending.
  • Men who offend report less exposure to pornography
  • Pornography use does not result in more harm to the victim.
  • Definitions of pornography are poor.

Polygraph testing has also recently been used to distinguish internet offenders who commit “hands-on” child sexual assault from those who do not attempt physical sexual contact. Some internet sex offenders do not attempt physical contact or engage in hands-on sexual offending (e.g., Surjadi et al., 2010; Quayle & Taylor, 2003; Webb, Craissati & Keen, 2007). This classification is important because those individuals who view or download child abuse images but do not have inappropriate contact with children may not pose a direct threat. A recent meta-analysis examined the prevalence of child sexual abuse among internet offenders. Seto, Hanson and Babchishin (2011) reviewed 24 studies and found that 12.5 percent of internet offenders engaged in contact sexual offending as indicated by official records; however, this rate increased to approximately 50 percent using self-report. In this meta-analysis, only one study used polygraph testing to verify the self-report. Bourke and Hernandez (2009) demonstrated significant increases in the number of previously undisclosed victims, offenses and paraphilic interests when self-report is corroborated through polygraph examination. Using polygraph testing, these researchers examined the prevalence of hands-on sexual offending among 155 internet child pornography offenders. Prior to testing, 74 percent (n = 115) of the internet offenders had no known sexual contact with children. After polygraph examination, 85 percent of 155 (n = 132) offenders disclosed hands-on sexual abuse. These findings suggest that crossover to hands-on offending may be more prevalent among internet offenders and further support the use of the polygraph to classify offenders. However, additional research is needed in this area due to the limitations of this study. The sample consisted of volunteers and the majority reported hands-on offenses prior to internet pornography use. Future research should differentiate between those who view pornography and later commit sexual abuse from those who use pornography as a supplement to or a substitute for sexual contact

This was the closest report I could find with 85% in it. A cursory review suggests some issues with this. Polygraphs are notoriously unreliable. Numbers in self reported surveys tend to favor the people who have an issue, without making sure the reporting group is generalized. The size of the sample, 155, is rather low. And meta-analyses can be highly inaccurate if not carefully reviewed for statistic errors.

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Polygraphs are not considered reliable by any means, so much so that they’re often inadmissible as evidence in US courts.
They’re notoriously prone to false-positives, false-negatives, and even in cases that may seem to validate or vindicate them, there’s always another to counter or nullify those prospective findings.

Polygraphs rely on patterns in physiological changes, like changes in breathing, skin texture, sweat, heart rate, etc. in response to specific questions. The problem with that is the responses polygraph technicians look for can also be explained by other ways, such as anxiety, medication, emotional state, etc.

Even the APA agrees that they’re unreliable.

As far as meta analyses being ‘accurate’, I’m unsure. It really depends on the methodology employed to establish a convergence among various different papers, which can be tough to do consistently or reliably for papers and studies that use different methodologies.


I think the simplest solution is that this is selection bias.

Most people who watch CSAM won’t be caught since there is no way to find an anon if they know how to hide computer info. So this study will be mostly composed of people who went “hands on” because that is a more commonly caught crime. Of course these people are more likely to have commited lesser crimes of the same nature.


This seems most likely, this is probably a sample of offenders. Most offenders would be hands on and police efforts are far more heavily focused on producers and distributors rather than mere possessors, further swaying the sample towards hands on offenders.

At a guess the real number would probably be under 10%. Most people wouldn’t be willing to take the substantial and hard to mitigate risk of going hands on compared to the risk of accessing CSEM which is pretty easily mitigated, or just never have to opportunity.


I wouldn’t put an exact number on it. Every year or so some new data will come in about CSAM and
it will state how there are 12 gorillion megabytes of CP so everyone will lose their shit and continue the pedo panic. I think they do this for donations, so they can continue their work, but it seems like a lose -lose situation. Obviously we want data and information, but I doubt knowing about the details has helped anyone.

I did mention the amount of CSAM dismissively but i think the average person has literally no respect for the actual amount, they see a twitter post and think oh my god thats so big!!! Then they either freak out because they think that means the pedo’s are all around and rapping, and so now it’s ok to bully kids on twitter. Or they go soft core q anon and think that the Fbi isn’t doing enough because they don’t care or are run by pedo sympathizers.