Common misconceptions about child porn and sex offenders

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It is what I saw in these chatrooms that led me to contact Dr Glaser – a clinical psychiatrist who is an expert in the field of sex offenders – to ask him about the effect of the availability of online forums and filesharing sites on child sex offenders – for example, does it normalise such behaviour, given that users of child porn can now be in contact with people 'just like them'?

The TL;DR version of his advice and that of the Australian Institute of Criminology is:

  • Most child porn users are 'normal' people who do not go on to actually offend against children but have deviant sexual fantasies.
  • Those who talk in the most frightening and offensive way are more likely NOT to be actual offenders, but are fantasising (much in the same way the vast majority of those who fantasise about rape do not go on to commit/subject themselves to rape).
  • Most actual offenders do NOT use 'child porn', but rather turn innocent pictures into porn
  • Actual contact offenders are more likely to be a male member of the victim’s family and they are getting their jollies by looking at Facebook pics of kids at the beach or at underwear catalogues. [...]

It all raises some interesting questions. Should someone who masturbates to the picture of a child in a bathtub be considered a criminal? What about the person who uploads that picture, knowing it will be used for sexual gratification? Are people still hysterical about ‘stranger danger’ when all the evidence shows that it is within their own families they should be looking for sex offenders?

source: Article 'Common misconceptions about child porn and sex offenders' by Eileen Ormsby;; All Things VICE; 4 January 2013