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How we help

Maybe you haven’t done anything illegal yet, but you’re worried about your online behaviour.

Maybe you’ve already stopped looking at sexual images of children or stopped having online sexual conversations with those under 18.

Maybe you are under investigation by the police for online sexual offences or maybe nobody knows about your online behaviour.

By visiting this site you have already taken a step in the right direction. We can help you understand the facts and consequences of online sexual offending and finding help to stop it.

We’re here to help you. Just like making any change, there will be times when you feel on top of things, and times when it feels confusing and difficult. That’s to be expected, and we suggest you take it one step at a time. We’re committed to helping people stop their illegal online behaviour.

We know that people can and do stop. We think we can help you too, not only to get on the right path but also to help you stay on it.

Facts

You need to ensure that you understand the law so that you know what is right and wrong (even if you believe otherwise) and that you understand that being caught by the police will come with many consequences, not just the possibility of going to prison.

Indecent images of children

The term "indecent images of children" means a sexual image of anyone under the age of 18. It includes:

  • Nude or partially clothed children.
  • Children sexually posing.
  • Self-generated images by children (‘selfies’).
  • Images depicting children engaging in both penetrative and non-penetrative sexual activity

This definition applies to still images, videos and pseudo-photographs (an image that appears to be a photograph and that may have been created by a computer).

No "grey area"

Many people who have engaged in online sexual behaviour involving children believe that there is a "grey area", between legal and illegal. There is no grey area.

  • Non-sexual images of children
    If you view any image of a child for sexual gratification, regardless of whether the child is nude, semi-nude or clothed, then this is not appropriate. The police may investigate the possession of multiple images of clothed children.
  • Nude images of children on naturist websites
    If you are viewing any image of a child for sexual gratification, then this is not appropriate. If the naturist images are showing nude children in a sexualised manner, then this is illegal.
  • Uncertainty about a child’s age
    If you are unsure whether it’s an adult or child in an image or video, or that you’re communicating with, do not continue. There is no ‘grey area’ here. If there is any doubt, stop. The law is clear.
  • The legal age is 18
    The legal age for a person to be in a sexual image is 18. This includes viewing sexual images or requesting images or webcam activity during online communication.
  • The images are legal in their country of origin
    Different countries have different laws around what age a person has to be shown in a sexual image or sexual behaviour. However, it is still illegal to engage in this online sexual behaviour in Iceland.
  • I’m not an Icelandic citizen
    Any online sexual behaviour involving children from within Iceland is illegal, regardless of where you are from.

People justify their illegal behaviour

Please watch the following film to get an idea of some of the justifications that people use to allow themselves to continue offending online.

Consequences

Many people who commit internet offences believe that they will never be caught – but this is not true. Police forces all over the country are running operations to specifically catch people who offend online, and it could be you next.

Many people who offend online think that their only consequence will be involved with the police and the worst-case scenario is going to prison. But there are many more consequences, and conviction affects your access to your children, your relationship, your finances and your job.

Criminal justice system

The main consequence of offending online is involvement with the police and criminal justice system.

  • First contact with the authorities
    Typically, this is likely to be the police knocking on your door.
  • Seizing of equipment
    During this initial visit, the police will probably search your property and gather up all electronic devices (like mobile phones, computers, laptops, iPads, cameras, hard drives and electronics used for work). The police will take them to the police station for further analysis, which may take a long time. Any devices found with evidence of illegal activity will not be returned.
  • Arrest
    Following the police searching your home, you will be arrested and taken to the police station where you will be interviewed. You have the right to have an attorney present. After the interview, you probably will be released but need to return at a later time for another interview. A few weeks or months can pass. It all depends on the investigation progress. It is recommended that you use this time to begin to address and stop your offending behaviour if you haven’t already done so.
  • Case closing
    The case can end in two ways:

    1. No further action
    If the police do not find any evidence, or if they feel that there is not enough evidence to charge you on, no further action will be taken.

    2. Charged guilty
    If your case has probable evidence you will be charged with offences. You will need to go to court. If you are found guilty you could get either a suspended or a custodial sentence. You could also need to pay compensation.

Child Protection Services

The Child protection services (Barnavernd) in your area will become involved if you are being investigated for offences relating to children and:

  • You have children under 18.
  • There are any other children you have access to within your family or your social circles.

Why will Child Protection Services be involved?

Child Protection Services become involved because they see you as a risk to all children, including your own. Child Protection Services do not know you – all they know is that you have been engaging in sexual behaviour online involving children.

In their eyes, this means you are potentially capable of committing a contact offence against a child. If this is not the case, then it is going to take a long time to prove otherwise.

What will happen?

When you are arrested, you will need to provide details of children you have regular contact with and Child Protection Services will need to assess your risk to them.

Child Protection Services may set their own restrictions that you need to comply with. These might include:

  • No unsupervised contact with your children
  • Moving out of the family home, if you currently live with children?

If you are convicted, Child Protection Services needs to assess your risk factor against other children. They may ask the parents to do some specific work to address risk factors (such as treatment programmes for offenders or protective parenting work for parents). The outcome of Children’s Services assessments will vary depending on individual risks and circumstances.

Consequences on your life and relationships

If people think about possible consequences to their offending, they might think about arrest and jail but might not consider what would happen to their relationships and other parts of their life.

Your relationships may deteriorate

How are your family going to feel if your partner, your children or your parents find out you have been engaging in illegal online sexual behaviour? What opinion are they going to have about you? Will they still love you? Will they still want to have contact with you?

Many individuals in your situation are lucky as they have family members and friends who want to support them through this. Others are not so lucky.

Nobody can predict how a person is going to react. Do you want to take this risk or do you want to get help now?

You might be in the media

There is a chance that your case will be written about in the media. This is never guaranteed, but it can also never be avoided or controlled. You need to be aware that it’s a possibility and think about what effect it will have on you, your children, your partner and the rest of your family.

Financials

You need to be aware that your offending will not only affect your job but possibly your families’ jobs too.

Working with children

If your job involves a lot of contact with children, for example, if you are a school teacher or a doctor, you will have to leave your job immediately. During your initial interview with the police, they will ask you about your occupation and if necessary, you will be asked to resign. It may also be required that the police disclose your offending behaviour to your employer.

Not working with children

If you are being investigated by the police, then you need to check your work contract. Some contracts will state that you need to disclose to your employer if you have any involvement with the authorities with regard to criminal behaviour. If this is the case, you need to do so, otherwise further down the line when you are convicted, your employer will find out and you will likely be dismissed.

Telling your employer about your offending does not automatically mean that you will lose your job. Some employers will allow you to continue working. Nevertheless, you need to be prepared to be asked to leave.

Trying to find a job in the future

If you are convicted of online sexual offences related to children, then you are going to experience some barriers with regard to work. There will be some jobs that you wouldn’t even be able to interview for; mainly anything involving children or vulnerable adults. In addition, you will also face difficulties if you want to teach adults.

When you apply for certain jobs, they ask you to state whether you have any spent or unspent convictions. You can be prosecuted if you fail to disclose spent convictions

Other consequences

Some people report negative impacts on their life a long time before they are caught by the authorities.

  • Is your illegal behaviour online starting to affect your relationship with your partner? Both, sexually and emotionally?
  • Are the empty and negative feelings you experience after going online causing you to become grumpy and short-tempered with the people in your life?
  • Are the long hours you spend online each night affecting your ability to succeed at work because you are so tired?

What causes this behaviour?

You may want to start understanding why and how you came to behave in this way. For example, this behaviour might stem from a range of factors in your life including regular use of adult pornography. It could be linked to what may have happened to you when you were growing up. This can be difficult to talk about. It may be a result of regular sexual thoughts or feelings about children. For some people, the reasons aren’t clear. Changing for the better starts with understanding your illegal behaviour.

Your behaviour may be more complex

Your sexual behaviour on the internet might not necessarily be all related to children. Some people develop other sexual behaviour problems, such as accessing extreme adult pornography. This is also illegal. Some people feel they are addicted to pornography they access online. They need appropriate support if they are to take control of their online behaviour and stop any illegal activity.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

Some people who are concerned about their sexual thoughts about children may have a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), characterised by intrusive or unwanted sexual thoughts about children. These people are not sexually aroused by these thoughts, which instead, cause them extreme distress and anxiety.

If this sounds like it might be true for you, we suggest you speak to your doctor. The content on this site is not designed to treat OCD. Read more about OCD.

What should you do now?

The first thing you should do is to contact Taktu Skrefið, who helps people who are worried about their sexual behaviour or have abused someone sexually. You can send them an email at taktuskrefid@taktuskrefid.is. They reply as soon as possible, at least within a week.

If you are not comfortable sending an email you can also contact emergency wards anonymously through the 112 web chat.

Resources

Taktu skrefið

Taktu skrefið (Take the step) is a group of psychologists that help people that are worried about their sexual behaviour or have sexually abused someone.

Heimilisfriður

Heimilisfriður offers therapy for people who have abused someone in a close relationship.