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REPORT: Sharing SG-CSAM Becoming Normal for Young People in Offline Romantic Relationships

November 15, 2023

4 Minute Read

LOS ANGELESNov. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — New research from Thorn, a nonprofit that builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse, found a notable increase in the sharing of self-generated child sexual abuse material (SG-CSAM) within offline romantic relationships. More than two in three minors (69%) who have shared their own SG-CSAM with someone they knew offline said it was with a boyfriend or girlfriend, up from just over half (54%) in 2021.

The research, Youth Perspectives on Online Safety, 2022, is one of the few surveys of its kind monitoring changes in minors’ behaviors and attitudes related to online safety and SG-CSAM.

In its fourth consecutive year, the survey of more than 1,100 minors aged 9-17 reveals that 14% of minors reported they have shared a nude video or image of themselves with someone else, a decrease of 4 percentage points from last year. One in four agree it is normal for people their age to share nudes with each other.

Among minors who have shared nudes with someone they know offline, girls remain the most likely to report sharing SG-CSAM with a boyfriend or girlfriend, with 73% reporting they had done so, up 10 percentage points from the previous year. While boys who had shared SG-CSAM with someone they knew offline were less likely to report it was with a romantic partner (65%), the portion who reported doing so surged 17 percentage points over 2021.

Other key findings of the research include:

  • Most online sexual interactions occur on Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram. More than half (58%) of respondents said they have had a potentially harmful online experience, and 33% reported having an online sexual interaction. The most reported experiences occurred on Snapchat (15%), Facebook (13%), and Instagram (13%). In contrast, when looking exclusively at platform users, the highest rates of online sexual interactions occurred on Omegle (28%), Telegram (28%), and Kik (24%).
  • More minors seek offline support after online sexual interactions. Minors who have had an online sexual interaction and disclosed their experience were more likely to use online reporting tools (86%) than seek offline help (47%). That being said, the number of minors seeking offline support in 2022 climbed 12 percentage points over 2021. More than three-quarters (78%) of respondents indicated anonymity in their report would make them more likely to engage with reporting tools.
  • More youth admit to nonconsensual sharing of SG-CSAM. In 2022, 15% of minors admitted to resharing someone else’s SG-CSAM, an increase from the 9% who admitted the same in 2021. Nearly a quarter (23%) said they had seen nonconsensually reshared images of others.

“The latest data shows how increasingly normal it is for minors to share nude photos of themselves and others,” said Julie Cordua, CEO of Thorn. “Shedding light on these behaviors underscores the need for parents and caregivers to begin a dialogue with their kids about the potential risks and dangers of sharing this type of content – as well as about consent, just as they might when talking about offline sexual exploration. By enabling more productive and open conversations around tricky and sometimes uncomfortable topics, we can improve online safety for children everywhere.”

Thorn has introduced several programs to help parents and children address online risks. Thorn for Parents helps parents and caregivers facilitate earlier, more frequent, and judgment-free conversations with kids about digital safety, offering resources for conversations that need to start much younger than many think.

In addition, Thorn’s NoFiltr youth program offers resources, advice, and knowledge for navigating potentially risky online experiences and encourages healthy and informed conversations among young people that guide kids through these complicated topics with understanding, empathy, and support.

Read the full report: Youth Perspectives on Online Safety, 2022: An Annual Report of Youth Attitudes and Experiences.

This research was conducted by Thorn in partnership with Benenson Strategy Group. The survey collected self-reported data from minors aged 9-17. In total, 1,142 minors of a nationally representative sample participated in an 18-minute online survey from November 4 to December 11, 2022. Data was weighted to age, gender, race, and geography, based on U.S. Census data. This research represents a continuation of research originally performed in 20192020, and 2021.

About Thorn:
Thorn is a nonprofit that builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse. Thorn creates products that identify child victims faster, provides services for the tech industry to play a proactive role in detecting, identifying, and reporting abuse content from their platforms, and works directly with youth and communities to build resilient kids. Learn more about Thorn’s mission to build technology to defend children from sexual abuse at

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