Guide to Reporting CSAM
Instructions on reporting illegal images and videos of children
Encountering child sexual abuse material (better known as child pornography) can be a scary or traumatic experience. However, it can also be an opportunity to reduce the prevalence of such content, prevent the revictimization of child abuse survivors, and potentially give law enforcement information to intervene in an abusive situation or further investigate past abuse. This guide is intended to help you report CSAM if you encounter it and help you find additional support if the experience is impacting your mental health.
1. Make sure the content is reportable
False reports to groups dedicated to identifying CSAM waste valuable time and resources that would be better spent investigating and intervening in actual cases of child abuse. Use the following rules to determine whether or not the content you have come across needs to be reported. Never share CSAM or suspected CSAM with others, even if you're asking them to report it, as this is considered distribution and you could face legal consequences.
Always report content that depicts one or more real children engaged in sexual activities.
Never report content depicting a drawing or 3D render of a child, unless you have a legitimate reason to believe that a real child was abused in the creation of that content. Reporting drawn or rendered content clogs up reporting queues and makes it harder for actual cases of child abuse to be identified and investigated.
If someone sends you a link to what they claim is illegal content, report it without clicking.
Not all potential CSAM will fall neatly into one of these categories, and you may have to use common sense and the information available to determine whether or not the content should be reported. As a general rule, if you believe there is evidence that a real child is being abused, report the content.
If you determine that the content needs to be reported, continue to the next step.
2. Report the content to the platform where you encountered it
Making the platform aware of the content allows their moderation teams to investigate and remove it. Different platforms have different processes and tools for reporting CSAM. This page contains more detailed instructions for reporting such content on some popular platforms.
3. Report the content law enforcement
Many countries maintain an online hotline where people can report CSAM if they discover it. These reports are then made available to law enforcement agencies and other relevant groups across the country who can investigate and take action on the reported content. You can find your country's hotline using INHOPE's Hotline Referral tool.
4. Focus on your mental health
If you've completed the steps above, take a moment to consider what you've accomplished. You've just contributed to the removal of incredibly harmful content from the internet. You may even have helped law enforcement identify and remove a child from an abusive situation. Despite this knowledge, it's not uncommon for people who have been exposed to CSAM to experience negative thoughts and emotions in the days, weeks, and sometimes months after the exposure. For most people, these will go away over time as you process what happened, however if they last for an extremely long period of time or begin to interfere with your life, you should consider seeking professional support.
In addition to the trauma response described above, some people may experience intrusive thoughts about the possibility of being a pedophile after being exposed to CSAM. It is important to remember that being exposed to this content does not automatically make you a pedophile or more likely to be a pedophile. That being said, if you do experience an attraction to minors, you may benefit from these resources (note that many support groups have rules against publicly admitting to viewing CSAM in order to protect members) and our blog.
Finally, some MAPs (and even some non-MAPs) struggle with an addiction to CSAM. If this is you, you are not alone and there is support available. The therapist referrals/databases listed here may be useful, although you should always reach out anonymously to ensure you don't risk being reported if you admit to viewing CSAM.