The Crimes Against Children Research Center (CCRC) of the University of New Hampshire (UNH) has received a three-year grant from the National Institute of Justice to help the police and forensic examiners in reviewing child abuse images during investigations. The project is scheduled to begin on Jan. 1, 2020. 

According to the CCRC’s website, their mission is “to combat crimes against children by providing high quality research and statistics to the public, policy makers, law enforcement personnel, and other child welfare practitioners. The CCRC is concerned with research about the nature of crimes including child abduction, homicide, rape, assault, and physical and sexual abuse as well as their impact.” The center’s four main goals include recognizing the extent of child victimization, protection of child crime victims, rehabilitation of child crime victims and ensuring great public accountability. 

The CCRC is completely grant-funded, largely through the Department of Justice. The National Institute of Justice that issued the three-year grant is one of its branches. 

“This award will allow us to continue our work in the area of child abuse criminal investigations which we have been conducting for 20 years,” Research Associate Professor Kimberly Mitchell said. “Our research results help inform training programs for police on the topic of Internet sex crimes against children.” 

The CCRC has been “conducting research on police responses to technology-involved sex crimes against children for 2 years,” Mitchell said via email. The CCRC has multiple Internet-related projects, such as studies in role of technology in child sex trafficking. The projects affected by the grant are National Juvenile Online Victimization Studies.  

National Juvenile Online Victimization Studies are carried out through sending mail surveys to law enforcement agencies and phone interviews with the random sample of agencies that responded. 

According to the CCRC’s First National Juvenile Online Victimization Study (N-JOV) – which studied the police responses to technology-involved sex crimes against children – “Law enforcement at all levels made an estimated 2,577 arrests during the 12 months starting July 1, 2000, for Internet sex crimes against minors.” 39 percent of these arrests included child victims of crimes such as production of child pornography, 25 percent of arrests were made by undercover law enforcement with no identified victims, and 36 percent of arrests were for offline possession, distribution, or trading of child pornography. 

The Second National Juvenile Online Victimization Study (N-JOV2) was carried out in 2006 and aimed to show the changes in arrest numbers, victim characteristics, and case dynamics since 2001.  

“This new project will allow us to support their work by helping to strengthen law enforcement well-being, improve investigative practices and inform public policy by examining the effect of work-related exposure to child pornography on forensic examiners and the efforts to help protect them from negative health impact,” Mitchell said.