Human Rights, Life, World

Child Porn: Who are the Viewers of Child Pornography?

Thousands of sites host some of the darkest material online: child porn. In 2014, the Internet Watch Foundation reported about 31,266 individual child abuse domains or URLs; a 137 percent increase from the previous year.

Just recently, new data from Statistics Canada provided that child porn climbed for the eighth year in a row in 2016. It is a growing business that nets about $3 billion in revenue in the United States alone. To put that in perspective, the total of illicit drug revenue of online cryptomarkets were estimated to be between $12 million and $21.1 million in 2016.

Who Watches Child Porn?

The National Juvenile Online Victimization Study was able to compile several distinctions between offenders. About two-thirds of individuals in the study were single, and about one-quarter lived with children under the age of 18. The National Crimes against Children Research Center detailed that a majority of these offenders were non-Hispanic white men, and less than 1 percent were women.

Another study also sees offenders as usually being well-educated and having some of the lowest recidivism rates compared to other sexual predators.

Although not many details have truly been dug up on geolocation statistics, offenders come from a variety of backgrounds and occupations. However, what compels viewers who may be parents, politicians or even a next-door neighbors to be an avid watcher of child porn?

Why Do They Watch Child Porn?

It may all start with curiosity or sexual orientation, such as pedophilia, as one source claims, but another puts more psychological reasoning into that assertion. One idea from a clinical psychologist sees it as the anonymity one may experience when online.

With an online persona, an individual can find sexual gratification from what seems like an unlimited variety of porn. Having trouble with adult intimacy may bring them to watch it as well, as they see children as being easily manipulated or more trusting of others.

Another theory may also correlate with childhood experiences and sexuality. Those who have been sexually stimulated as a child create that association with child porn as another way of experiencing the same sexual gratification they had in the past.

This could also be for similar to those who may have been sexually abused as a child. Another way is seeing it as an addiction. Like any drug, once someone feels a euphoric rush of pleasure activated through chemicals in the brain, the need to replicate those feelings makes someone more dependent on the substance or, in this case, behavior.

David Knudson, a licensed professional counselor, supports this idea. Many of them, Knudson says, felt pain and especially guilt in not being able to stop once they started.

“When they were on break, they would get their phone out and would be looking at child pornography and reading child pornography stories,” Knudson said in an interview.

They continued watching it because of the “high” feeling they experienced with it and will continue actively searching for more to feel a similar rush again.

How Are They Punished?

Whether a person is selling or viewing child porn, federal law violations are a serious charge. According to the United States Department of Justice, child porn is considered illegal contraband and not protected by the First Amendment. As a federal law, anyone convicted of distributing, receiving or possessing any child porn could face between five to 20 years in prison.

What is Being Done to Catch Them?

Officers have been able to use some strategies to find those involved in child porn thanks to the rise of technology. Using file share detection systems for documents that use certain keywords, law enforcement is then able to locate suspects through their IP address. With the rise of this dark industry, prosecutors may also cut deals with child porn consumers in order to locate distributors and sellers.

Another tactic also proves to be highly controversial. The FBI hosts child porn websites as an undercover sting operation to catch individuals attempting to download the material. With a staggering amount of arrests and charges in the last few years, many believe jail time is not the only option. In a BBC story from 2013, Donald Findlater is involved with a child protection charity known as the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.

The charity works with sex offenders and organizations to help prevent abuse. In the article, Findlater believes that these offenders are “not normally heartless people.” Findlater also added that much of the access to this type of pornography had been made easier through the internet, as it was much riskier getting physical photos and prints before computers. As a result, Findlater finds the “volume of viewers is far larger than we can arrest,” which makes prevention just as important.

He suggests integrating offenders into a community for them not to be alone in their thoughts, thus having more to lose if they were to re-offend. Whether or not this could be an ideal solution, the number of viewers will likely continue to grow, and more will be done to catch distributors, producers, and viewers of one of the most taboo of illegal materials.

About Jarek Martinez

Born in Chicago, Illinois, a journalism major with plenty of hope for his future and career. Reporting and photography are improving every day, but writing is the passion. The drive. Avid movie watcher and media guy. Also minoring in legal studies and applying for paralegal certification. A big dog person as well.

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