Child Sexual Abuse Material and NZ law
Sometimes the sexual abuse or exploitation of a child is captured and circulated as child sexual abuse material (CSAM). This Child Sexual Abuse Material is also called CSAM and it is classified as objectionable content in New Zealand. Learn more about CSAM, the legislation and what action you should take if you find this type…
Sometimes the sexual abuse or exploitation of a child is captured and circulated as child sexual abuse material (CSAM). This Child Sexual Abuse Material is also called CSAM and it is classified as objectionable content in New Zealand. Learn more about CSAM, the legislation and what action you should take if you find this type of content.
If you discover CSAM content, report it to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) immediately.
What is CSAM?
Child sexual abuse material or CSAM is the permanent recording of the sexual abuse or exploitation of a person under the age of 18. This can include images, video or live streamed content. Real children are abused and often their suffering is not shown.
The term “child pornography/porn” is sometimes used to refer to CSAM. Netsafe and many other agencies use the term Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) because it better reflects what this content represents and the seriousness with which this content should be considered.
The term CSAM is used to describe this type of abuse as the term ‘child pornography’ does not accurately reflect the seriousness of the content nor challenge the notion that a child is old enough to provide consent to this type of content
Is CSAM illegal in New Zealand?
Yes, it is. New Zealand considers this type of content as objectionable. The Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 deems a publication to be objectionable if it promotes or supports, or tends to promote or support the exploitation of children, or young persons, or both, for sexual purposes (section 3(2)(a)).
Possession of objectionable content is a serious offence and can be punishable by imprisonment of up to 10 years, or a fine of up to $50,000. Distributing objectionable content carries a maximum term of imprisonment of up to 14 years. Distributing includes making the content available for other people to access, such as on a website or through file sharing.
If you discover CSAM content, report it to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) immediately. The DIA takes reports of CSAM and works with appropriate law enforcement globally to manage the report and try to help the child in it.
If you are unsure of whether to report CSAM content, contact Netsafe for free, confidential advice.
Support for people involved in CSAM
If you or someone you know has been involved in producing CSAM content as an underage person, you can contact the Police or Safe to Talk for specialist advice and to discuss the options available to you. Safe to Talk is a free and confidential sexual harm help service that can provide you with specialist advice.
Contact Safe to Talk free 24 hours a day by calling 0800 044 334 or visit safetotalk.nz
Accidental and unsolicited exposure to CSAM
If you discover CSAM content, report it to the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) immediately. You need to also report it if you have accidentally discovered CSAM, or if it has been sent or shown to you even if you did not request it.
If it is discovered that you have been in possession of this content and did not report it to the DIA immediately you may still be liable for prosecution – even if the access was accidental or unsolicited and you deleted it or navigated away from it immediately. Reporting the content immediately upon discovering it may offer you some protections from prosecution.
It is important that you do not forward CSAM content to another person under any circumstance even if you are trying to get advice about what to do with the content as you will be “distributing” the content, and the person you are sending it to would be in “possession” of the content. If you have done this already report this immediately to the DIA and encourage the other person to do the same.
If you’re unsure if the person in the content you have seen is underage, you should still report it. There are age verification specialists who can analyse the content. If the content includes a child that you know, you should also report this to the DIA who will work with local law enforcement to act to protect the victims of abuse.
Every picture or video of CSAM might contain a clue that will rescue a child from abuse. Don’t click away, if you see it, don’t ignore it – report it. If you have any questions about reporting CSAM, Netsafe can provide free and confidential advice.
What to do if you or someone you know is accessing CSAM
If you or someone you know is accessing CSAM or may be about to access it, you should contact Safe to Talk for advice. Safe to Talk is a free and confidential help service that can provide specialist advice and refer you to the appropriate support depending on your situation.
Contact Safe to Talk free 24 hours a day by calling 0800 044 334 or visit safetotalk.nz
What to do if you suspect someone is creating CSAM
If you suspect that someone you know is creating CSAM material, you should contact the Police immediately.
Advertisements for CSAM
If you see an advertisement for CSAM, do not click on the link or access the material. Report the advertisement to Netsafe or to the DIA immediately. In your report, please include a URL to the advertisement and a URL of the website hosting the advertisement.
The law around teens creating and sharing nude/sexual content
We know that some young people send nude or nearly nude content of themselves to other young people. Under New Zealand law, people under the age of 18 who create this content of themselves are technically in possession of objectionable material. If they send this content to another person, it is technically distributing objectionable material, whether the other person requested it or not.
If the person they are sending it to is underage, they are technically supplying objectionable material to a minor. It is important that young people understand that on-sharing nude images/video of someone under the age of 18 is distributing CSAM in the eyes of the law. This includes the on-sharing of nudes of another person who is underage, regardless of whether the content was initially shared consensually by the person in the image/video.
Law enforcement agencies are most concerned with people who are knowingly creating, in possession of, or distributing CSAM. However, this does not mean that others do not run the risk of breaking the law. Agencies are likely to take into account the nature of a consensual relationship between people under the age of 18 when they consider prosecution.
What if a young person is being groomed to send sexual content?
Grooming is when an adult tries to build a relationship with a young person so that they can sexually exploit them in some way. This doesn’t always have to be physical – sometimes they are trying to get nude or nearly nude images or videos of the young person or have a sexual conversation with them. We have specific information and advice about online grooming for both young people and for parents.
Accidental or unsolicited exposure to CSAM can be a very upsetting experience.
- The DIA has more information about objectionable and restricted material on their website. You can report CSAM content to the Department of Internal Affairs using their online form.
- If you need help or support after reporting the content, you can contact Safe to Talk. They have trained specialists to assist with issues related to sexual harm and can offer free and confidential advice. Contact Safe to Talk free 24 hours a day by calling 0800 044 334.
- If you’re unsure about reporting CSAM or anything else about CSAM, you can contact Netsafe for free and confidential advice.
ONLINE SAFETY PARENT TOOLKIT
You’re currently within the ‘Understand’ section of our Online Safety Parent Toolkit where online risks and challenges are explored.
This is the first step in our seven-step framework designed to help parents and whānau with digital parenting in a rapidly changing world. We recommend reading through each step of the Toolkit as this will guide you on how to support your child to confidently access digital opportunities and reduce online harm.
If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.
- Email [email protected]
- Call toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report at netsafe.org.nz/report
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282
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