How to Distinguish Children's Faces from Adults? (2024)

How to Distinguish Children's Faces from Adults? (1)

Identifying specific facial features that can be used to distinguish a child’s face from an adult may offer a useful tool for determining whether children are depicted in indecent images, according to research led by the University of Birmingham.

Researchers designed an experiment to determine how people make judgments about whether the person depicted was a child or adult from specific facial features.

How to Distinguish Children's Faces from Adults? (2)

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In this study, researchers worked with 16 volunteers, including digital forensic analysts from West Midlands Police. Each volunteer was shown a series of images depicting faces of either children or adults.

Each was revealed through a filter that excluded non-facial cues such as ears, hair, and neck. They were asked to identify the faces as belonging to either children or adults.

Later, they used image processing techniques to analyze which facial attributes of both children and adults the volunteers used to make their identifications.

How to Distinguish Children's Faces from Adults? (3)

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They found that information around the nasal bone and eyebrows were most commonly used to classify adult faces, while the eyes, nose, and jawline were more likely to be used to classify a child’s face.

Dr. Juliane Kloess, at the University of Birmingham, explained: “The number of indecent images of children in circulation has dramatically increased over the past 25 years. We hope that our findings may assist with the way computer algorithms prioritize images for human attention, which will help to partially automate the process of identifying and classifying this material. This would alleviate the pressures on existing resources within policing, and reduce the exposure of analysts to this type of material”.


How to Distinguish Children's Faces from Adults? (4)

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Researchers suggest their findings could be used to develop artificial intelligence algorithms to make the job of identifying children in indecent images of children easier. The findings are published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

Current processes to identify indecent images of children require digital forensics analysts in police forces to review images and make a decision.


How to Distinguish Children's Faces from Adults? (5)

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This is a time-consuming and emotionally challenging task and work is already well underway to design computer algorithms to automate part of the process. It is anticipated that the findings from this new study will inform and contribute to that development.


How to Distinguish Children's Faces from Adults? (2024)
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