Our understanding of who is likely to carry out online child sexual exploitation and abuse and the offender pathways they follow needs further analysis and academic study. Not all offenders will gravitate towards web forums. Not all who view child sexual abuse material online will manipulate or coerce children to engage in sexually explicit conduct. Not all offenders who commission the live streaming of ‘on-demand’ abuse will escalate to directly abusing a child in person.
Online abuse, through its physical distance from the victim, can heighten the risk of offender deviancy. There are indications that those joining online ‘special interest groups’ are encouraged to greater violence and younger children in a quest for status within their offender community.