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Dispatches from Dr. Joel Dvoskin: January 2012

Why Possessing Child Pornography Should Be a Crime

by Joel A. Dvoskin, Ph.D., ABPP (Forensic)
University of Arizona College of Medicine
Past President, American Psychology-Law Society (APA Division 41)
Past President, Psychologists in Public Service (APA Division 18)

Every now and again, I read the implicit or explicit suggestion that the possession of child pornography ought not to be criminalized because child pornography offenders have an allegedly low likelihood of "hands-on" sexual offending against children. Others argue for criminalization of child porn solely on the basis of one controversial study that shows a high rate of self-reported, hands-on offending of children among this group. As is so often the case, both extremes of this argument miss the point entirely.

People are wrong to imply or state that the only reason for outlawing child pornography is that it causes, predicts, or correlates to hands-on sex offending against children. I can't prove it, but my assumption is that sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. However, I believe that the purchase of child pornography ought to be illegal because it funds a multi-billion-dollar industry that relies on the rape of actual children to exist. In other words, every time someone purchases child pornography, they are in essence paying someone else to rape a child so that they can watch. Psychologists do not argue that arson-for-hire or murder-for-hire is not a crime unless the offender can be proven likely to subsequently commit a hands-on arson or a hands-on murder. Thus, the logic of those who believe that child-rape-for-hire ought not to be criminalized escapes me.

I wish I could stretch this out into a longer essay, but the point is so simple, obvious, and true that I cannot think of anything to add.

© Copyright 2012 Joel A. Dvoskin

For more information about Dr. Joel A. Dvoskin,
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