UNH receives federal grant to study technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation

Friday, January 24, 2020

The Crimes against Children Research Center (CCRC) at UNH has been awarded a four-year grant from the National Institute of Justice to track trends in the incidence of crimes, offenders and victims in cases involving technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation. This is the fourth in a series of studies conducted by the CCRC since 2000.

“Technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation crimes, like child pornography possession, can grow and change quickly,” said Kimberly Mitchell, research associate professor of psychology and the study’s director. “Such rapid changes are unusual in criminal justice and social science research, and that means we need to closely monitor this volatile environment so law enforcement can respond.”

The new research will help the criminal justice system track dynamics that are not always apparent or picked up on by other criminal justice data collection systems.

The study involves conducting interviews with a national sample of police investigators. It will identify whether the training, legislative and policy changes in approaches to technology-facilitated child sexual exploitation crimes are having a positive impact. Findings will also help determine whether there are some new or growing technology-facilitated crime types that need greater attention.

The National Institute of Justice is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. Mitchell will head up the research team in partnership with the National Criminal Justice Training Center, the main training and technical assistance provider for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces.

The Crimes against Children Research Center conducts research to help policy makers, practitioners and the public improve the response to a wide range of crimes against children from sexual abuse to gun violence.