The ReDirection Self-Help Program – protecting children before the crime occurs
#ReDirection 2023 Blog Post Series 03
In 2020, Protect Children launched the ReDirection project aiming to produce new information about anonymous CSAM users in the dark web. In order to collect data from this hard-to-reach population, we developed and placed in the dark web two surveys - ‘Help us to help you’ and ‘No need for help’. The first survey, ‘Help us to help you’, explored the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors of respondents related to their CSAM use.
50% of respondents shared they would like to stop viewing, searching and sharing CSAM
The research indicated that many CSAM users are willing to stop their harmful behaviour, and 62% of respondents have already tried to stop, however, failed. When asked what could help to stop CSAM use, some respondents noted:
“A psychologist who teaches me to control myself”
“Go to a psychiatrist but I don’t have money yet to do it”
“More available information for people with mental disabilities on ways to prevent and stop self-harming behaviours...”
Indeed, 15% of users have tried to seek help, however only 3% say that they received it. On the basis of the data gathered from CSAM users in the dark web, Protect Children, in collaboration with psychologists Nina Nurminen & Mikko Ylipekka, developed the ReDirection Self-Help Program to provide a resource to help CSAM users change their behaviour and stop searching for and viewing harmful material.
The ReDirection Self-Help Program
The ReDirection Self-Help Program is based on cognitive behavioral therapy - it guides users to change their behavior and stop using CSAM. The program is completely anonymous and does not require the users to sign up or disclose their identity in any other way.
The program helps users to reflect on their behaviour, thoughts, and feelings related to CSAM use: how and why they came to watching CSAM, how it influences their life, what the motivations and justifications behind the use are. While reflecting, the users are taught to control their behaviour.
74% of the program users reported either completely ceasing CSAM consumption or reducing it
Preliminary evaluation results and user feedback demonstrate that the program effectively helps users to prevent harmful behaviour:
“I understood for a long time that this was wrong, I thought and tried to find a clue to stop once and for all. And your program gave a huge boost and confidence, especially when I read that there is a real live person behind every video or photo, it caused me a lot of feelings and emotions, a sense of shame for myself and a great desire to change.”
“Thank you. Best material ever, I'm so grateful. It's been a long and hard journey.”
The ReDirection Self-Help Program was opened over 70,000 times
The program is currently available in three languages – English, Finnish and Spanish. Protect Children is planning to translate the program to Russian, Swedish, Norwegian, Czech, Slovak, German, and Portuguese in 2023-2024.
The RDChat: new confidential chat service for users of the ReDirection Program to chat to trained specialists
Although feedback to the ReDirection Self-Help Program is predominantly positive, only 59% of users shared that they feel very confident about their ability to maintain behavioral change. To address this issue, Protect Children piloted the RDChat.
The RDChat is an anonymous chat service aimed at supporting the ReDirection Self-Help Program by guiding CSAM users to successfully completing it and ensuring behavioural change. It is not a counselling service for offenders – the trained specialists only reply to inquiries related to the ReDirection Self-Help Program: how to stay motivated and complete it. If the specialists suspect that the child is in immediate danger, they are obliged to report it to the police.
The RDChat specialists use motivational interviewing techniques when chatting with the users. The aim is to help the individual realize the need to get help and empower them to complete the treatment.
The RDChat is completely anonymous. The users can connect to specialists via end-to-end encrypted messenger Session.
In the end of the pilot, Protect Children will compile a report to evaluate the effectiveness of this tool and share other valuable findings.
It is vital to address the crime before it occurs – the ReDirection Self-Help Program and the RDChat were designed to protect children through prevention.
Stay tuned: read other blog posts in our ReDirection series