Authors: Lisa Maria Beethoven Steene, Nishant Krishnan, Jane L. Ireland and Lisa Gaylor - Ashworth Research Centre, Mersey Care NHS Trust, Liverpool, UK and School of Psychology and Computer Science, University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK and Ashworth Research Centre, Mersey Care NHS Trust, Liverpool, UK.



With the increased availability of the internet and new technologies, use of the internet to commit sex offences has been well documented. Despite increased interest, no systematic review has yet evaluated the risk and protective factors evidenced for online sex offending among those engaged in such behaviour. The current review aims to investigate this via a systematic review of 43 relevant articles. The emerged focus was on child abuse images. Thematic analysis identified seven risk factors: evidence for cognitive distortions; difficulties with relationships; managing isolation, loneliness, and boredom; psychological traits connected to low self-worth, poor psychological health, and impulse challenges; interest in deviant sexual material; child abuse images as reinforcing for emotions; and developing a hyper-fixation and preoccupation with sex. Limitations and implications are discussed, including the absence of researched protective factors.

Keywords: Online offending; Internet offending; Risk; Protective factors; Sex offence; Technology.

Vol 4, Issue 1, April 2023