chapter  4
20 Pages

The legal framework

Recent academic debates on child sexual abuse, both online and offl ine, have been characterised by a notable disjunction between criminological contributions, informed by legal (eg Ost 2009) and socio-psychological (eg Quayle and Taylor 2005) approaches, and sociological research concerned with the political construction of the problem in the context of practices of neoliberal governmentality (eg Wacquant 2009). Debates in these strands of enquiry often seem to take place without mutual interpenetration. This chapter deals with the legal framing of sexual contact between adults and children online largely as a matter of descriptive context, in preparation for the empirical material to be explored in subsequent chapters. In doing so, I draw primarily on the legal and socio-psychological lines of enquiry. Nevertheless, it is important briefl y to set my argument in its political context.