Sex Offenders and the Internet by Dennis Howitt, Kerry Sheldon

By Dennis Howitt, Kerry Sheldon

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8) argued that: Less than half of 1 % (3 % of the 11 %) of the messages on the Internet are associated with newsgroups that contain pornographic imagery. Further, of the half of 1 %, an unknown but even smaller percentage of THE ISSUE OF CHILD PORNOGRAPHY 33 messages in newsgroups that are associated with pornographic imagery actually contain pornographic material. Taken, then, to its logical conclusion, the percentage of newsgroups that would contain child pornography would be even smaller. Rimm’s interpretation of his data was sensational rather than measured, so it provided some policymakers with all the evidence they needed to argue their case for legislation, although Rimm’s evidence is unsound (Hoffman and Novak, 1995).

During a search in the Greater Manchester area a video was found that showed an individual abusing his stepdaughter. He had no prior convictions. 1999 – 24 UK police forces arrested 14 men and one woman and seized 19 computer systems. 2001 – 48 targets were identified as suspected of distributing child pornography; 26 police forces were involved. This led to the discovery of previously undisclosed child abuse but also six of the targets were under 17 and one was 13 years old – he had 321 child abuse images downloaded from the Internet.

Child pornography is not pornography as it is understood by the man and woman in the street. It is not the glossy centerfolds of Playboy nor even . . of hard-core pornography. Child pornography is ‘not pornography in any real sense; simply the evidence recorded on film or video tape – of serious sexual assaults on young children’ (Tate, 1992, p. 203). However, shortly after this, Kelly and Scott (1993, p. 116) described child pornography in the following terms: Each piece of child porn involving adults (or in some cases animals) is a document of the sexual abuse of a child who was required for its production.

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