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August 24, 2011

"The Child Pornography Crusade and its Net Widening Effect"

The title of this post is the headline of this new article by Professor Melissa Hamilton, which is now available via SSRN. Here is the abstract:

The criminal justice system’s effort to combat child sexual exploitation has taken on a primary and aggressive focus toward prosecuting those who violate child pornography laws.  The deontological policy labels all child pornography offenders, whether they are producers or merely viewers, as morally bankrupt and a threat to the nation’s children.  Yet the basis for the policy bears fundamental flaws, and this article explores them.  The article first summarizes legislative efforts to bolster child pornography laws and lengthen sentences for violators.  It then provides a synthesis of criminal justice initiatives that are expending substantial resources targeted toward investigating, prosecuting, and punishing child pornography offenders.  The policy and the initiative rely on a presumption that child pornography consumers are in reality undetected pedophiles and child molesters who are at high risk of sexually abusing children.

This article challenges the presumption by comprehensively analyzing certain of the most commonly cited studies that purport to empirically support correlations between child pornography, pedophilia, and child molestation.  It also highlights other empirical evidence, as well as some practical considerations, that instead tend to show that most child pornography offenders are at low risk of committing contact sexual offenses.  In sum, the concentration on child pornography crimes appears to be a misinformed policy that fails to directly protect real children from harm. 

August 24, 2011 at 08:50 PM | Permalink

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Comments

I'm Just a Guy.
►Were◄ I a pedophile, I would not be viewing porn of any kind on the net nor would there be any on my computer (excepting perhaps Ulysses SP?).

WWW time would eat into precious seconds of tracking and stalking others.

I can kill someone in the Arena area in Columbus, and get 60-90 days.

Child Porn (between to age 17.987 yr mInors) = YEARS ?

Posted by: JAG | Aug 25, 2011 7:22:39 AM

Is it not the case that "real children" are harmed when they are raped and sexually abused on camera? "[R]eal children" are harmed because there is a market for this sort of filth. There is, in other words, a 100% correlation between children being sexually abused and child pornography, whether or not viewing this vile smut leads to other children being raped and sexually abused. That is my perspective as a prosecutor.

Posted by: Ed Borg | Aug 25, 2011 12:41:29 PM

Ed is right. It is well recognized that that the market for watching fuel the production of kiddie porn; there is status from the community for uploading new images, which encourages abuse.
The sentencing is sometimes difficult to make sense of because "nonproduction" possession offenses can also include distribution if people are using file sharing networks. The charges may be limited to possession, but the reality of the conduct is also distribution.

Posted by: Paul | Aug 25, 2011 3:16:02 PM

@ Ed Borg

"Is it not the case that "real children" are harmed when they are raped and sexually abused on camera? "[R]eal children" are harmed because there is a market for this sort of filth. There is, in other words, a 100% correlation between children being sexually abused and child pornography, whether or not viewing this vile smut leads to other children being raped and sexually abused. That is my perspective as a prosecutor."

That's not the focus of the article, is it Mr. prosecutor? The article focuses on the correlation between child porn possessors and pedophilia/child molestation. Your argument does not answer the question posed here. Also, based on your assessment, one could similarly conclude that adult pornography leads to all incidents of adult rape. But is that the case?

Many federal judges have ruled that there is no correlation between child porn possessors and pedophilia/child molestation. I am sure you disagree because the fear mongering machine, which you are a part of, wants society to believe that the stranger lurking near the playground is going to snatch up our kids and abuse them in front of a web cam. Had you read the article, you would have learned that 27% of child porn producers were parents of the children, 10% were other relatives, 23% were family friends with less than 4% being strangers. Which falls in line with what we know about child molestation - that the vast majority of children molested are molested by someone they know. Also note that that "one-third of sexually assaulted juveniles are victimized by their peers," and "juveniles commit over 35% of sex crimes against minors."


@ Paul

"Ed is right. It is well recognized that that the market for watching fuel the production of kiddie porn; there is status from the community for uploading new images, which encourages abuse."

How does that effect the correlation between child porn possessors and pedophilia/child molestation? Furthermore, how has incarcerating the drug user for long periods of time effected drug manufacturing, sale and distribution? Has locking up a "John" had any real effect on illegal prostitution?

The ends don't justify the means. Once societies fear mongerers stop speaking in half-truths, then we can begin to get to the root of the problem and some sort of reasonable and effective solution.

Posted by: Huh? | Aug 25, 2011 4:32:31 PM

'Is it not the case that "real children" are harmed when they are raped and sexually abused on camera? "[R]eal children" are harmed because there is a market for this sort of filth.'

Yes, mr. prosecutor and why aren't you and your compatriots out there concentrating on busting those people 'PRODUCING' this obnoxious material instead of grabbing the low hanging fruit that does little, if anything,
to protect these victims of abuse in the first place???? Or how about finding a way to block those internet sites distributing those images rather than taking the lazy approach of just monitoring them and grabbing IP addresses of those viewing them and then prosecuting. You and your collegues are the ones promoting the so-called re-victimization those abused by constantly notifying them that you've found yet another internet surfer viewing their images. That seems just as sick and lame as your approach in pursuing those viewing the images, that have in many cases, been floating on the internet for years or decades after the initial abuse has taken place.

Posted by: james | Aug 25, 2011 7:47:24 PM

Huh?, I was reacting viscerally to the incredibly stupid sentence:"In sum, the concentration on child pornography crimes appears to be a misinformed policy that fails to directly protect real children from harm." I am all too aware of the fact that most molesters are family or friends, etc., because I prosecute child molesters. Indeed I cannot recall a single case (I have had this assignment about three years) that involved a stranger. I don't think that I was fear-mongering or stating a half-truth, I was stating the truth as I see it. You are certainly welcome to disagree with me; lots of people do (sometimes 12 at once). james, on the one occasion when I was able to prove that someone had produced kiddie porn (or KP) I did go after him, but much of the product comes from outside the US. That the child being raped was raped in Eastern Europe doesn't make it better for me, nor that it happened long ago. People who like this garbage provide demand, and if there is demand there is someone who will be happy to provide a supply. That results in children being abused. I take the bold stance that children being sexually abused is a bad thing which should be discouraged. My opinion is no doubt colored by the fact that on numerous occasions I have had to look at this filth, because I can't prosecute someone unless I know what the evidence is.

Posted by: Ed Borg | Aug 25, 2011 10:22:04 PM

Ed, your opinion is no doubt colored by the fact that you get paid to do this.
There is a huge difference between producing "KP" and viewing what is freely available on the Internet.

Posted by: Obvious | Aug 26, 2011 10:41:20 AM

"I take the bold stance that children being sexually abused is a bad thing which should be discouraged."

The legalization of KP in several nations has consistently resulted in a decrease in the reports of child sexual abuse.

Criminal syndicates overseas produce child porn because the prices have been driven up by the law in the US. The law is a major factor in the increase in the sexual abuse of real children. This have been discussed and documented several times here.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Aug 26, 2011 10:53:43 AM

Arizona: "Justices Decline Case on 200-Year Sentence for Man Who Possessed Child Pornography" - New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/02/27/washington/27scotus.html

Posted by: truthseeker | Aug 26, 2011 12:27:50 PM

This issue is more complicated than most people realize. Like he said, usually it is someone close to the family.


Check out my site! www.insuranceautotexas.com

Posted by: Texas Insurance | Aug 26, 2011 2:47:22 PM

I agree with Obvious "There is a huge difference between producing "KP" and viewing what is freely available on the Internet." My brother got 20 years for viewing because he used a file sharing software. It is SOOOO rdiculous that he was sentenced longer than people who have molested/raped children. I have lost all respect for our justice system.

Posted by: Vpolcyn | Aug 27, 2011 11:10:46 PM

Ed Borg:

Your lack of clarity to think objectively, instead of MR. Little Dictator between your thighs is why we as a country are broke.

If you wanted to kill a child pornagrapher producer (real abusive pornagraphy), I would pull the switch. However, you are too ignorant to understand ANY distinctions.

Because it was not produced locally, you can kill someone who "MAY" (had the ability with no actual certainty) viewed it!

Welcome to the brown shirt club!

Posted by: albeed | Aug 27, 2011 11:24:08 PM

@ Ed Borg

"Huh?, I was reacting viscerally to the incredibly stupid sentence:'In sum, the concentration on child pornography crimes appears to be a misinformed policy that fails to directly protect real children from harm.'"

Well, then your profession has obviously taught you little. I came to that conclusion when you stated that, "[R]eal children are harmed because there is a market for this sort of filth." The real harm to Real children IS the sexual abuse. Ridding the world of KP will not stop the abuse of children or the harm caused by said abuse.

The extremism, that is law enforcement, can't seem to choose which battle they want to fight - although its clear that neither battle will be won. The question is, or at least should be, where should we focus our efforts where those efforts lead to the best outcome... gunning for the low level offender who is possessing KP, or the scum bag producing and distributing it? Pick one!

The "War on Drugs" is a perfect example of how law enforcement uses extreme measures where the ends do not justify the means. Fact is, gun toting government thugs know they will never win the war on drugs. So they started focusing their efforts on locking up as many people as they possible can. Why go after the big fish in the pond when they can net plenty of low level end users, with much less effort.


"I am all too aware of the fact that most molesters are family or friends, etc., because I prosecute child molesters."

You totally missed it, again. I am not surprised considering 95% of a prosecutors case is based on innuendo - FACTS need not apply.

Please read the article again, especially the part of the article where it was stated that 27% of CHILD PORN PRODUCERS were parents of the children, 10% were other relatives, 23% were family friends with less than 4% being strangers. The, step out of your extremist shoes and you might see something.


"I don't think that I was fear-mongering or stating a half-truth, I was stating the truth as I see it."

Right. 95% of a prosecutors case is based on innuendo - FACTS need not apply.


"People who like this garbage provide demand, and if there is demand there is someone who will be happy to provide a supply. That results in children being abused."

Supply and demand, supply and demand... I never hear any of you government types talking about the $$ that is made. What would happen if you take away the opportunity to make money? The reason prohibition didn't work was not just because of demand, but the money that was being made. Taking away, or at least attempting to take away the supply created more of a demand, and that demand made a lot of people rich. The ends did not justify the means, but ended up a slap in the face to a slew of now-it-all politicians and extremist law enforcement thugs.

You will NEVER stop the demand. My suggestion? Get off your high horse.., wake up and smell the cannabis and maybe you'll start to think a little clearer.

Posted by: Huh? | Aug 29, 2011 11:38:38 PM

... and a little factoid for ya, Ed. KP is legal in Japan. Japan is the largest "consumer" of KP. Child abuse incidents in Japan, of any kind, are much, much lower than that of the U.S. Why the hell do you suppose that is?

There is something I have told my son for years when I had a hard time getting him to do something, which is, sometimes in life there are things that, no matter how much you don't want to do, you have to.

Posted by: Huh? | Aug 29, 2011 11:52:13 PM

If the science and academic studies are all saying that possession of child pornography doesn't correlate with child molestation, then people need to just accept it and stop acting as though everyone who has kiddie porn is a molestor waiting to happen or who hasn't been caught yet. That misconception is what is driving these laws.

The backup argument that "possessors drive the market" is intellectually dishonest. 1st of all, people saying that argument don't really believe it, they believe that possessors = molestors, so the laws are not written to make it illegal to buy and sell CP, which is how they would be written if the "market" theory were the basis for these laws. 2nd, I have read many, many CP cases on this site and elsewhere, and I never came across a case where the sexual abuse was based on a profit motive. The abuse is caused by people (generally men) who are both pedophiles, and also are bad people (studies show sexual abusers correlate with being sociopaths) such that they choose to act out their fantasies despite the harm it causes.

It is very dishonest to argue that some normal guy who hears of the massive profits to be gained in child porn sales (which I strongly doubt exist to begin with) decides that he is going to molest his daughter and record it to make some money. This is not an economic crime, like drugs. This is something no one would do for the money.

Considering that in the vast majority of cases, child porn was not purchased, but rather traded online for free, this of course severs any link to a potential profit motive or the notion that these free downloads/trades are somehow driving a market and causing more molestation than would have otherwise occurred.

Posted by: kk | Sep 7, 2011 5:26:28 PM

"Considering that in the vast majority of cases, child porn was not purchased, but rather traded online for free, this of course severs any link to a potential profit motive or the notion that these free downloads/trades are somehow driving a market and causing more molestation than would have otherwise occurred."

You had me at hello... but you lost me with your lack of any real knowledge on the subject.

In March of 2004, the Computer Crime Research Center reported that the KP industry could reach $6 billion.

http://www.crime-research.org/news/22.03.2004/146/

In March of 2006, InformationWeek reported that the KP industry had turned "into a global, $20 billion-a-year criminal enterprise."

http://www.informationweek.com/news/183700580

New York Times also did a similar article April 2006.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/05/washington/05porn.html?ex=1301889600&en=3be2262e97e48a40&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss

Also read a related story about Justin Berry who began his own little profitable "business" at age 13.

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/19/national/19kids.ready.html]

Its not a theory... there is a market for porn period. Why would KP be any different?

Posted by: Huh? | Sep 7, 2011 10:49:15 PM

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