Hotline & Network Updates

If the child doesn't know their photo is being used for sexual purposes, what's the harm?

Everyday photos of children, such as images of children playing in the bathtub, are being found in sexualized contexts including adult pornography sites. 101 reports with these kinds of everyday images of children taken out of their original context were received by Danish Hotline AnmeldDet in 2019.

According to a recent research report by Red Barnet, “[s]uch material is often used and shared as a moral and legal alternative to CSAM, where the basis for using such material is that it is neither harmful nor abusive.”

The legislation surrounding CSAM differs from country to country. This quote reflects the legislation in Denmark but to find out what should be reported in your country, visit your hotline website.

Nevertheless, this sparks the question: is the sharing of this kind of material in sexual contexts (a) harmful, and (b) abusive?


If the child finds out that their images are being used for sexual purposes, their response will depend on their relationship to the adult using the images, the child’s personality and psychosocial resources, and the support the child receives. Nevertheless, several reactions are common:

  1. Feelings of powerlessness and anxiety about the number of people who have viewed the material and what will happen if others find out
  2. Breach of trust creating problems for the child’s ability to form future relationships
  3. Feelings of shame and guilty


Regardless of whether the child finds out their image is being used for sexual purposes, it constitutes a violation of their right to be protected from being made a sexual object – appearing in article 34 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Read more about the impact when a child does find out their photos are being used for sexual purposes here.

Source: Everyday Pictures of Children in Sexualizing Context 2020, Red Barnet

If the child doesn't know their photo is being used for sexual purposes, what's the harm?
08.12.2020 - by INHOPE

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