Sexual offending pathways and chat conversations in an online environment

Manon Kleijn*, Stefan Bogaerts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


People from all over the world pay for live streaming video images of minors, also called webcam child sex tourism (WCST). Although there is an increase in research about online sexual offending, relatively few studies have investigated the approaches used by people who have committed WCST offenses (PWCST). In addition, these studies describe these approaches as active-orientated without mentioning an avoidant pathway. The aim of the study was to investigate whether PWCST use similar pathways as the four offending pathways identified by Ward and Hudson. Using qualitative thematic analysis, 195 cases of online chat conversations between PWCST and operators posing as a minor were analyzed. The Ward and Hudson pathways model was partially replicable. Evidence was found for an approach and avoidant pathway. The data also suggest three other sub-pathways and a mixed pathway. Most PWCST in this study used an approach pathway to immediately approach minors for sex, which provides important insight into the diverse nature of sexual grooming.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
JournalSexual Abuse. A Journal of Research and Treatment
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021


  • WARD
  • internet
  • offending pathways
  • online grooming
  • webcam child sex tourism

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