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Young people, child pornography, and subcultural norms on the Internet

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Abstract

Literature to date has treated as distinct two issues (a) the influence of pornography on young people and (b) the growth of Internet child pornography, also called child exploitation material (CEM). This article discusses how young people might interact with, and be affected by, CEM. The article first considers the effect of CEM on young victims abused to generate the material. It then explains the paucity of data regarding the prevalence with which young people view CEM online, inadvertently or deliberately. New analyses are presented from a 2010 study of search terms entered on an internationally popular peer-to-peer website, isoHunt. Over 91 days, 162 persistent search terms were recorded. Most of these related to file sharing of popular movies, music, and so forth. Thirty-six search terms were categorized as specific to a youth market and perhaps a child market. Additionally, 4 deviant, and persistent search terms were found, 3 relating to CEM and the fourth to bestiality. The article discusses whether the existence of CEM on a mainstream website, combined with online subcultural influences, may normalize the material for some youth and increase the risk of onset (first deliberate viewing). Among other things, the article proposes that future research examines the relationship between onset and sex offending by youth.

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