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Meet the Team: A Conversation with Melissa Stroebel

January 9, 2024

3 Minute Read

At Thorn, we bring together the best hearts and minds from tech, child protection, business and nonprofit fields to create powerful products and programs to defend children from sexual abuse. We’re highlighting some of the exceptional people who bring our mission to life.

Melissa Stroebel, Head of Research at Thorn, shares a little about her career and the need for collaboration across the child safety ecosystem.

Melissa Stroebel, Head of Research, speaking on stage at the 2023 Family Online Safety Institute Conference

Q: What is your background and expertise? 

A: I have an undergraduate degree in history and masters in forensic science. Prior to joining Thorn, I worked with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children performing victim identification work, product management, and eventually issue research.

Q: What drew you to Thorn?

A: It was the issue research that ultimately led me to Thorn. After working for nearly a decade on this issue, I was acutely aware that more often than not those looking to harm kids online had access to better technology than those committed to protecting them. I loved that Thorn’s strategy brought the heart of the mission to a tech-forward setting to address that issue.

Q: What keeps you at Thorn, working to create impact? 

A: Thorn uniquely brings together the many people and systems working to keep kids safe online: tech platforms, caregivers, law enforcement, NGOs and more. I think our greatest chance for success on this issue requires all parties to sit at the same table from time to time.

Every bit of impact we have, big and small, helps protect a child somewhere from abuse. You can’t ask to have a greater impact than that.

Child Protection Ecosystem graphic connecting Tech Platforms, Caregivers, Law Enforcement, and NGOsQ:  What do you wish people knew about this issue space?

A: This isn’t an issue that only impacts other kids – the kids whose parents let them have cell phones or the kids who are struggling at home or in school. Simply loving your child isn’t enough to equip them to navigate the dangers the world will throw at them, particularly online.

We need to have open conversations that name the things that are out there and make a plan with our kids so they know how to get help if things that seem okay at first start to feel off. 

Thorn’s Research

Much of our work is informed by research collected in the field, helping our team, along with our many partners, remain on the cutting edge of building technology to defend children from sexual abuse. 

Our latest reports include LGBTQ+ Youth Perspectives, SG-CSAM Youth Attitudes and Experiences, Responding to Online Threats, and Grooming.

We are committed to conducting original research to better understand the experiences of children and youth and inform what we’ll build to defend them.

For more inspiring employee stories, see our “Life at Thorn” collection. 

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