Conversations About Child Sexual Abuse Material: When Is It Enough For Safe Adults To Report?

A North Carolina physical education teacher was arrested after the Cleveland County Sheriff's Office found child sexual abuse materials (CSAM) on his computer.

The investigation began when a woman reported to the sheriff's office she had chatted with the accused on a dating site. During their conversation, the accused allegedly revealed his past interest in child sexual abuse imagery.

When investigators interviewed the accused, they learned he was a physical education teacher at an elementary school but had resigned from his job. Investigators searched the former teacher's home and seized his electronic devices. In his personal computer, deputies found CSAM involving minors participating in sex acts. The images and video that they found did not involve anyone local or children from the Cleveland County School System, according to the deputies.

Deputies are grateful that the woman reported the former teacher to authorities. Ken Lemon "Former local PE teacher accused of having child sexual abuse pictures" (Feb. 15, 2024).


Commentary and Checklist

The above matter involved an online discussion of one party liking CSAM. Based on that conversation, a report was made.

Safe adults should report their "reasonable suspicions" of sexual exploitation to the authorities. A person liking nude images of children is enough to create a reasonable suspicion of child exploitation, specifically, that a person may possess CSAM.

According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), in 2022, more than 99.5 percent of the reports received by the CyberTipline regarded incidents of suspected CSAM.

Federal law prohibits the production, advertisement, transportation, distribution, receipt, sale, access with intent to view, and possession of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), which is considered child pornography, a form of child sexual abuse and a crime.

What should safe adults know about reporting CSAM or other child sexual abuse?

  • If a life-threatening emergency exists, dial 911.
  • If not a life-threatening emergency, contact a child protective services agency or local law enforcement immediately.
  • Get a name, title, department, phone number and email address from your law enforcement and/or child protective services contact. Take notes and preserve your communications with law enforcement and/or child protective services.
  • Tell the law enforcement and/or child protective services contact the facts that form the basis of your reasonable suspicion of child sexual abuse. Be prepared to provide dates, times, and names of witnesses. Do not speculate or provide information that you know is false or misleading.
  • Follow the directions of law enforcement and/or child protective services contact on preserving the safety of the child.
  • If applicable, let your employer know that you have made a report to law enforcement or child protective services.
  • Provide emotional support to the child when possible.
  • Do not argue, blame, or interrogate the child.
  • Do not try to convince the child he or she is mistaken.
  • Do not direct any anger or retaliation toward the child.
  • Allow law enforcement and/or child protective services to interact with parents and/or caregivers.
  • Follow-up with law enforcement and/or child protective services on your report.


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