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13 August 2009

Most child-porn users not 'dangerous'

A new study suggests that most men who view child pornography do not go on to commit sex offenses -- at least those men who have no history of such crimes.

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A new study suggests that most men who view child pornography do not go on to commit sex offenses -- at least those men who have no history of such crimes.

The study, reported in the journal BMC Psychiatry, followed the records of 231 Swiss men who were charged with illegally downloading Internet child pornography.

At the time, only 1% had a criminal history of "hands-on" sex offenses, and researchers found that over the next six years, the same percentage ended up being charged with such a crime.

The findings suggest that an interest in child porn, in and of itself, does not mean that a person has a high likelihood of committing sex offenses, the researchers say.

’Many child-porn users are "well integrated" into society’
"Our results support the assumption that these consumers, in fact, form a distinct group of sex offenders," said Frank Urbaniok, one of the researchers on the study.

"Probably, the motivation for consuming child pornography differs from the motivation to physically assault minors," said Urbaniok, from the Zurich Department of Justice in Switzerland.

Of the 231 men in the study, only two were convicted of, charged with or investigated for a sexual assault in the six years after being charged with child-pornography possession. Another nine -- or 4% of the study group -- were suspected or convicted of illegal pornography possession.

For the most part, the researchers note, the men were well-educated and Swiss-born -- suggesting that many child-porn users are "well integrated" into society.

They add, however, that today's more widespread Internet use may mean that current pornography users differ from the men in this study.

"Nevertheless," Urbaniok said, "there are two relevant and practical findings that seem to be robust: For consumers of child pornography without a criminal history, the prognosis for hands-on sex offenses and for recidivism with child pornography is favourable." – (Reuters Health, August 2009)

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