Guide to Reporting CSAM
Support for those who encounter or seek out illegal content online
Seeing child sexual abuse material (sometimes called CP or child pornography) online can be distressing, but it can also be an opportunity to reduce the spread of harmful content and protect abuse survivors. This guide can help you report CSAM if you encounter it and find support if the experience is negatively impacting you. At the bottom, there are resources listed for people who need additional help to stop viewing CSAM.
What is CSAM?
Child sexual abuse material (CSAM) is content that involves the sexual abuse of a real child in its creation or distribution. This includes images and videos of children being sexually abused, as well as explicit images of minors that are posted online.
As the name suggests, child sexual abuse (CSA) must occur for content to be considered CSAM. Consensual sexting between teens and content involving fictional children, for example, would not qualify.
In legal settings, CSAM is called "child pornography." However, many CSA survivor advocacy organizations recommend avoiding this term when possible, as some survivors consider it insensitive.
How will my report help?
CSAM continuously publicizes the most vulnerable and traumatizing experiences of affected abuse survivors. This can lead to retraumatization and fears about being forever labeled as a victim.
Reports of CSAM allow platforms to remove and block the content, preventing such fears from being realized. This also stops explicit images of survivors from being shared without their consent and gives them more control over information about their abuse.
In some cases, reports of CSAM may reveal information that can help police identify ongoing cases of sexual abuse or track down children who have been kidnapped or trafficked for sex.
Filing a Report
Make sure the content is reportable
False reports to groups that investigate and document CSAM waste valuable resources that would be better spent addressing actual child abuse. Use the following rules to determine whether the content in question needs to be reported. Never share CSAM or suspected CSAM with others, even to ask them to report it, as this is illegal.
Always report explicit or sexual content involving one or more real minors
Never report a drawing or 3D render, unless you have reason to believe a real child was abused in its creation.
If someone sends you a link to what they claim is CSAM, report it without clicking.
Not all potential CSAM will fall neatly into one of these categories. As a general rule, if there is evidence that a real minor is being abused, report the content.
If you determine that the content needs to be reported, continue to the next step.
Report the content to the platform where you encountered it
When you encounter illegal content on a popular social media or messaging platform, the built-in reporting system is usually the fastest way to get it removed. Different platforms have different procedures for reporting CSAM. This page contains more detailed instructions for reporting CSAM to popular internet platforms.
Report the content to law enforcement
Many countries maintain internet hotlines where people can report CSAM. These reports are shared with law enforcement agencies and other groups that can investigate and take action.
Focus on your mental health
It's not uncommon for people who have been exposed to CSAM to experience negative thoughts and emotions in the months following the exposure. For most people, these will go away over time, however, if they last for a long period of time or begin to interfere with your life, you should consider talking to a therapist. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a brochure on coping with CSAM exposure with additional resources and information.
Some people experience intrusive thoughts about the possibility of being a pedophile or child sexual abuser after being exposed to CSAM. Remember that encountering this content does not automatically make you a pedophile or increase your likelihood of being an abuser. However, if you do experience attractions to minors, you may benefit from these resources (be aware that many support groups prohibit admissions of viewing CSAM) and our blog.
If you are intentionally viewing CSAM and need help to stop, check out the resources below
Help for Viewers
Some people develop a habit of viewing CSAM and find that they need professional help to stop. Thanks to advances in research and emerging approaches to preventing the spread of CSAM online, there are now a number of support options available to these individuals.
Prevent ItAnonymous | Online
A Tor-based experimental treatment program that uses therapeutic learning modules to support CSAM viewers in reducing or eliminating unwanted behavior.
STOP-CSAMAnonymous | Online | Multiple Languages
A month-long program that allows CSAM viewers to anonymously chat with mental health professionals and develop skills to reduce their use of illegal content.