Paedophiles using dark web for sick kid pictures given ‘therapy’ by specialists

Scientists have said paedophiles should be given therapy and not just thrown in prison for their crimes.

Researchers from the Karolinska Institute in Sweden say a mental health approach could stop paedophiles looking for sick images of children, thus preventing harm to children in real life.

As part of a new study, the scientists tracked down 160 men on the dark web who were using it to view child sex abuse images.

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Over an eight-week period half were given cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the rest received a placebo. The participants then anonymously reported how much child sex abuse material they viewed each week.

The study, published in the journal Internet Interventions, found a "small yet significant" difference between the two groups.

The amount of sick content they were viewing decreased "significantly" across both groups, but the decline was larger and more significant in those given CBT.

Around half of the people in both groups reported not looking at child sex abuse images at all in the week before the study ended.

Study author Johanna Lätth said: “Ideally, we’d like to see the behaviour cease completely, but the results give us hope that there’s a way to treat these individuals.

“We believe it could be a valuable complement to other interventions that aim to prevent the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.”

“I want to say that we mustn’t be naïve. All these people don’t want therapy but many are open to seeking an alternative to their lifestyle and to get help," said study author Dr Christoffer Rahm.

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“And when they have this motivation, it is important that we as a society meet that with good and reliable interventions where they can feel safe to get therapy.

“We find support for healthcare to have a role, especially on the prevention side, to reach out to people before they commit an offence.

“The perpetrator himself, of course, should be taken to court if he has committed any crimes. That is very important for the rectification of the victim."

All of the therapy was conducted anonymously and although the study authors said they reported what they could to authorities, they added that participants used concealed IP addresses, emails and names making them "beyond the police".

The researchers now plan to trial their programme in eight other countries.


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