Reduced use of documented child sexual abuse material after online CBT

Through this study, researchers at Karolinska Institutet evaluated anonymous online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for people who view documented child sexual abuse (CSAM). The results are now published and show that participants reported less use of CSAM after treatment. 

“Our goal is to prevent the sexual abuse of children,” says principal investigator Christoffer Rahm, chief psychiatrist at Psychiatry South Stockholm and research group leader at the Centre for Psychiatry Research and the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet. “Sadly, we’re seeing an increase in the spread of such material online and that current strategies to stem the trend are insufficient. Therefore, we wanted to test whether an anonymous internet-based therapy programme, which we call Prevent It, can make people to stop using child sexual abuse material.”

– There has long been a strong social discourse that the only acceptable thing to do is to punish those who commit abuse. Anything else is naive. As a children’s rights organization, it was not an easy decision to invest in Prevent It given the strong focus on perpetrators, but these results show that we did the right thing and that it can complement other efforts in the fight against child sexual abuse, says Britta Holmberg, Programme Director and Deputy Secretary General, World Childhood Foundation.

Scaling up from Stockholm to the rest of the world

We are proud that we dared to invest in the project from the concept stage all the way to the publication of the results. We have also engaged in an active dialogue on how to ensure a child rights perspective throughout the project and activated our network to further strengthen that investment, including by linking the research team with our global network of specialists, researchers, foundations, the European Parliament, and the End Violence Partnership. 

Prevent It has attracted considerable global attention and helped lay the foundations for several new international projects on perpetrator prevention. Updated versions of the therapy are now being tested, targeting all adults with concerns about sexual thoughts about children. The therapies will be offered in English internationally, and in other languages in a total of eight countries.

If you have sexual thoughts involving children and would like to participate in the new study you can find it here

Read Karolinska Institutets full press release
For more information please contact: 
Charles Mingo Bennström, pressansvarig World Childhood Foundation 
+46(0)734 22 04 42,

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