Legalize Child Porn to Prevent Child Abuse?

Eric Yang photo

[Updated Below]

Authors of a study in the Czech Republic think it might be a good idea.

Researchers analyzed their country’s stats and found that not only was there no notable increase in rape and sexual abuse cases after porn was legalized in 1989, but the incidence of child sex abuse (it is not illegal to possess child porn in the Czech Republic) has fallen significantly—a phenomenon consistent with results found in Japan and Denmark where porn (but not child porn) is also legal.

The theory is that pornography provides a “safe” outlet for pedophiles who would otherwise commit real life crimes against children.

The authors of the study were quick to say that they don’t support “the use of real children in the production or distribution of child pornography,” but that artificially produced materials “might serve a purpose.”

As with adult pornography appearing to substitute for sexual aggression everywhere it has been investigated, we believe the availability of child porn does similarly.

The Czech Republic is almost absurdly liberal when it comes to porn. While it’s illegal to create and distribute child pornography, it’s perfectly legal to possess it.

It’s caused trouble for them in the past. When Austrian authorities uncovered a massive child pornography ring back in 2007, they bagged hoards of criminal pedophiles all over the world. But the 67 Czech “customers” got off scot-free.

Understandably, child protection agencies are furious with this recent study. Chris Cloke, the head of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC):

Many children suffer atrocious abuse in the making of indecent images … to make it legal would suggest that inappropriate behavior and violence towards children is acceptable. It never is and it would be quite wrong to make it legal.

Jezebel makes this point:

I wouldn’t trust pedophiles to stick to Photoshopped stuff if real photos of kids were out there. Nor would I trust pornographers to stop producing photos of real children as long as there was demand for them.

In fact, current child porn laws in the US appear to require that the minor depicted be an “actual person” for prosecution to occur, meaning that completely computer-generated images of kids might already be legal. And yet the distribution of actual photos of kids continues.

Whether or not we’re horrified by the idea of legalizing child porn—which most of us probably are—the numbers are there.

So now, as always, we want to hear what you think. Do these researchers have a point, or is this study just inviting disaster? Let us know below.

Update: Since posting this story, we’ve been accused of “building an argument for [legalizing child porn],” “spreading misinformation,” and “putting children at risk.” We don’t think we’re doing any of those things; we’re simply asking our readers what they think about this widely reported study. For those who want to look into the merits (or lack thereof) of the study at issue, here’s the pdf.

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About Lu Fong

Lu Fong was a staff writer and blog editor for the Good Men Project in its formative years. As the requisite woman on staff, her hobbies included cleaning, cooking, knitting, fainting, and childbearing. Follow her on Twitter @lufong.

Comments

  1. This article, and study, seem to perpetuate many false assumptions about the nature of child pornography and the dynamics of child sexual abuse.

    First, is the assumption that the rates of child sexual abuse is dropping _only_ in those countries that have legalized/decriminalized child pornography. This is not the case. It is well documented in the United States (a country with fairly strict penalties related to child pornography) that the rates of child sexual abuse have been on the decline for almost the last decade. The researcher David Finkelhor writes extensively about this and his research can easily be found online.

    Second, is the assumption the declining rates of child sexual abuse are directly related to the use of child pornography as opposed to the massive (but still inadequate) investments that many nations have made in crisis services for victims, prevention programming and offender treatment. I think many would argue that the declines in child sexual abuse have been _in spite_ of the use of child pornography, not because of it.

    Finally, the most dangerous and most erroneous assumption is that somehow the use of child pornography acts as some kind of surrogate for actual abuse of a child. Most emerging literature and research on this subject points to a different reality: the use of child pornography doesn’t diminish the erotic connection between the sexual coercion of a child and sexual gratification – it enhances it. This makes sense. The more one solidifies the connection (through masturbation and fantasy, for example) between sexual gratification, the more it becomes an entrenched part of someone’s sexual identity.

    Once there was a notion that individuals who used child pornography did only that – passively viewed it. Their crimes were characterized as “hands-off” (meaning they never actually touched children). There are more than a few recent studies that have found many consumers of this kind of pornography are actually “hands-on” offenders with actual, in-person victims for whom their lives are irrevocably changed.

    Child pornography is not a solution to child sexual abuse.

    • Yah, also the study is garbage based on his statistical methodology. He is a crackpot author who decided to pretend that the effects he cited were not due to the massive regime change. He has no evidence that the same effects wouldn’t have occurred if only legal adult pornography was allowed. This blog author is irresponsible for posting a poorly researched editorial that was mostly just ripped off from Jezebel.

  2. This is a poorly done study that draws inappropriate claims. Along with the legalization of pornography, the entire social dynamic changed from a repressive failed communist state to a democracy. The effects are too convoluted. The author also cannot distinguish the effects of legalizing pornography from child pornography in his study. He took basic trends and claimed they fit his hypothesis. You need to be more careful about how you blindly accept horribly done studies before you editorialize irresponsible points like “the numbers are there.” The numbers are most certainly not there. Please take a class on research design so you know what you are talking about.

  3. I heard a while ago from a friend who works in Customs about an ongoing issue that they’re having with the import of CD’s full of ‘stock photography’ – specifically, photos of catalog models that would be easily used in a clothing store’s advertising material.

    The problem is they’re specifically photos of kids in underwear/swimsuits/adult outfits. While you wouldn’t blink about the pictures being in a K-Mart catalog (although in some cases you might think the outfits were a little inappropriate for a child that age) – it becomes very, very creepy when the vendors are bulk importing DVD’s of that material and nothing else, in quantities far beyond the practical requirements of catalog designers and advertising groups.

    But creepy as it is – the kids involved are just child models. The investigation shows no indication that they were involved in anything other than modeling clothes for k-mart catalogs – their parents were present for the photography, the photographers are reputable and not involved in anything dodgy apart from supplying stock photos to retailers, and the kids show no signs of abuse. The pictures aren’t illegal – and it’s only their implied usage that’s creepy. Should customs be blocking the imports? Should the distributors be arrested? Should the purchasers be investigated?

    If I believed that the pictures would genuinely work to reduce harm to even a single child – I’d say whatever. But I know that watching porn certainly doesn’t reduce my inclination to be intimate with my (consenting, adult) partners.

  4. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Look, child sexual abuse is a problem and perpetrators of actual abuse of this sort need to be treated, maybe sequestered permanently if they can’t be cured. But I’m pretty sure the child porn prosecution craze is part of the current “moral panic” where sex substitutes for left wing politics as the ueber-chimera. It, the hue and cry over sex, makes us all more malleable and fearful. Well-meaning, but essentially wrong-headed feminists are responsible for some of this.I think rendered child porn is fine. In other words, drawn pictures. If people who are pedophilic want to, say, masturbate to that, fine. Conventional ad images are also fine.

    • James Harris says:

      What a repulsive opinion. As if feeding rendered images of children to paedophiles is any kind of solution. The sexualisation of children is wrong, full stop – whether virtual or actual. we don’t need ‘moral panic’ to assert that. Wake up.

  5. HumbledDad says:

    ‘Widely distributed study’? Um, no. Word to the wise, Good Men Mag: reputations are easy to make, very difficult to live down… this item wasn’t worth the risk, just to appear controversial. You got a lot of bad press on this one, a lot of women (yes, the mommy blogging mafia) who are saying GMM advocates kiddy port. And how do you ‘widely distribute’ a rebuttle to that?

    Get some sleep.

  6. If child porn is legalized, then that means the MAKING of it is legal. That is incredibly stupid! The act of creating child porn is extremely abusive and traumatizing to the children that are forced to participate it the creation of it.

  7. I am a teen, I’m 14, and I belive that there is a huge misconception of ‘legal child porn’

    You’re forgetting that some children(mainly adolecents)want to participate in porn. For those people I say, let it be, but as for the people who abuse and force the small children(or any minor for that matter)are horrible and disgusting.

    I am for the legalization of ‘protected child pornography’
    If the minor(over a certain age, say 10)agrees, or wants to participate, it should be allowed.
    Or maybe this porn can be also legal to minors who essentially watch porn illegally. It would provide I non pedophile benifet of child porn. But I do think the porn industries using children should be under survailence and follow rules.

    • Hi Austin, I have some questions for you that maybe you can help me out with. What do you mean by “some children want to participate in porn”? What do you and your friends consider porn? And who do you believe these children want to make porn for? Other children or adults? Do you want adult men and women to view you sexually? Do you have younger siblings that you would be okay with other adults viewing sexually? Why do you think 10 year olds, or even 14 year olds are capable of making a healthy choice about wanting to be in porn? What other adult choices have you made for yourself? Do you live on your own? Do you make a home or car payment? Do you believe you would be able to make these choices at your age and survive in the world without your parents aid?

      At 14, there is no doubt in my mind that you got a lot of things going on with your body and normal sexual feelings toward girls your own age or the girls you may see in porn. And while you are the most grown up you ever been in your life at your current age, you still are growing and developing. It is not healthy for adults to be attracted to you. BUT it is healthy that you may be attracted to adult women or men. I know when I was 14 that I didn’t have a clear picture of the world as I do now at 31, I know that when I was 20, I didn’t have a clear picture of the world as I do now at 31. Physically, and you can google more information about this, your brain isn’t even close to being fully developed. And in all scientifict honesty, despite how mature you may be for your age and your mature sexual feelings, there is still a lot of growing up you are doing. Right now you are having a rush of chemicals flooding your brain that do infact influence your choices. It’s the reason why younger boys are much more open to taking risks then grown men are. Children are simply not capable of making the choice to be in porn because they don’t have teh developement or experience to make such a sound choice. I hope you research this to learn a little more about your current state of development. I don’t say this to minimize you at all. But there are certain realities of being a growing and developing young person that don’t change just because you do infact have sexual feelings.

      I also hope that there is an adult in your life you can have these conversations with and who are talking to you about porn. Porn isn’t exactly healthy sexual material while it is perfectly natural for you to be interested in it and turned on by it. Sex, men and women are so different from what porn shows you it is.

  8. Dunamis says:

    I actually agree with that last statement. I myself, as a kid, very much wanted to take part in such activity. If I’d had the opportunity, I would have jumped at it without a second thought. If the child wants to and fully understands what it means, who’s really being hurt?

  9. Ricardo Barrios says:

    No legalize child porn. Its absurd, the web is contaminated whit litte innocent child possing nude. Abberant.

  10. Jack Coo Stow says:

    It seems to me that people are ignoring history. Child sex has been taking place for many many centuries all over the world. There is an old philosophy that says if a large number of people are believing the same thing, then its either a huge lie or the absolute truth. Obivously child sex isn’t a lie because its a reality. And many men (and women) are having sexual encounters with children. This doesn’t automatically imply a negative experience loaded with agression and rape. There are thousands of child porn videos online and this is hard evidence that gives you an inside look at that reality. Yes, there are some instances where some warped minded individual takes control of his child for sexual pleasure. But the statistics of that is the same with grown men and women in marriages.

    So the dark side of any part of life lies in the psych of an individual. Just because an adult is having sex with a child doesn’t imply that he’s crazy. Many long lasting marriages came out of adult-child relations years ago. But mostly religious groups lobbied against the idea because God told them too. And we all know that many world cultures are driven by man made ideologies. The world should spend less time telling adults not to have sex with children, and instead spend more time educating people’s minds and teaching them about compassion for others. The rest will happen on its own. A dictatorship does nothing good. It simply creates a world full of all the things they say NOT to do.

  11. very great make child sex legal is good do it now

  12. From my experience with a husband, now ex-husband since 2004, I do not believe child porn will stop sexual abuse of children. He was and may still be addicted to porn, I do not believe he ever watched child porn, but after watching porn for some time, he felt it would be okay for him to have sex with our 9 year old daughter. He expressed this to me and told me he thought both of our children should watch porn to educate them about sex. I told him no way on both counts, I would kill him if he touched either our son or our daughter. I believe porn is like drugs, the more the person gets, the more they want, then they move on to more hard core stuff and so on.

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