Disentangling Child Porn

Recent years have seen a significant increase in the criminal penalties
associated with possession of child pornography. The new severity
appears to be premised on arguments that blur the distinction between
those who possess images of child pornography and those who sexually
abuse children. In particular, sentences have been increased based on
arguments that possession of pornography is equivalent to or worse
than child sex abuse, arguments that viewing child pornography
increases the risk that an individual will sexually abuse a child, and
arguments that those who possess child pornography are abusing
children undetected. This Article identifies instances where possession
of child pornography and child sex abuse have been conflated,
critically evaluates the arguments that promote such conflation, and
identifies independent concerns with conflation. Specifically, it argues
that blurring the distinction between the two crimes allows us to
continue to misperceive child sex abuse as a stranger-danger issue,
and that when law enforcement statistics aggregate possession and
child sex abuse, then the public may be misled into believing that law
enforcement is successfully battling child sex abuse, when that is not
the case. The Article concludes that the modern trend of increasing
sentences for possession of child pornography ought to be reviewed,
and it suggests several possible areas of reform
Disentangling Child Porn

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