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Emotionally, I am shot, depressed, overwhelmed. I just want a normal life. I feel like we are living a series of crime shows.

— Survey respondent

Parents’ Perspectives on how Child Sexual Abuse Material Impacts the Entire Family

Findings from the Canadian Centre for Child Protection’s (C3P) survey of parents of child sexual abuse material survivors shed new light on how this crime significantly impacts entire families. Twenty parents from around the globe whose children's sexual abuse was recorded gave their feedback, documenting how the abuse affected their health and well-being every day and sharing important insights into gaps in services and supports that must be addressed internationally.

To best support those impacted by these crimes, it is crucial to learn from their experiences and accordingly advocate for changes in policies, laws, and systems.

Read the Report

Main Themes

We thematically analyzed their responses and found four main themes:

  • Offenders’ crimes drastically impacted survivors’ parents, who experienced negative physical, emotional, and psychological effects including post-traumatic stress disorder, losing trust in others, and living in a constant state of fear for their family’s safety.
  • The crimes also negatively impacted the whole family. Parents’ parenting approaches and structures changed, with some becoming single parents and many becoming hypervigilant, constantly on high alert for danger to their family, and taking on new responsibilities, including working to keep their family safe and navigating complex criminal justice and child protective systems.
  • Families were continually met with inadequate and retraumatizing responses from government systems and technology companies, and harmed by the very systems put in place to help them. Posing barriers to coping and healing, public health systems failed to provide parents and their families with fully subsidized, ongoing, specialized therapy.
  • Amidst the pain and upheaval, parents and their families were persistent and resilient. Every parent showed remarkable perseverance in fighting for their children’s safety, and was using their experiences to advocate for changes to best support those impacted by child sexual abuse material.

Summary of Policy Recommendations

Families of survivors are further harmed by failures of public health, child protective services, criminal justice, and technology companies. In order for these systems to better support families impacted by child sexual abuse material, C3P has prepared policy recommendations for each group:

  • Implement public health approaches that provide ongoing, specialized therapy to survivors, their siblings, and parents at no cost to the family.
  • Mandate trauma-informed training and practices for child protective services and criminal justice systems.
  • End the unnecessary and traumatizing practice of showing survivors and their parents the abuse material.
  • Create regulatory frameworks that ensure technology companies do their part to curtail cycles of abuse.

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