This book explores the enduring appeal of child pornography and its ramifications for criminal justice systems around the world. It is based on an extensive review of academic literature and newspaper coverage, a trawl of websites frequented by those with a sexual interest in children, a survey of how police investigate these offences, examination of prosecutors' decisions, and interviews with judges.

It provides a framework for understanding the contemporary nature of this problem, especially the harms it causes, its intimate relationship with new technologies and the challenges it poses to law enforcement authorities. The internet plays a pivotal role. Its sheer size, the anarchic way it grows, the lack of any boundaries to its expansion and its disregard for national borders make it a legal environment without parallel.

An unwavering focus on the threat of sexual abuse has contributed to the emergence of a context where routine dealings with children are viewed through a 'paedophilic' lens. This can have the unfortunate consequence of distracting attention from more urgent concerns (such as poverty and neglect), which make children vulnerable to sexual exploitation. In this way an emphasis on the sexualisation of children could be said to aggravate the problem that it sets out to address. The book:

  • provides a comprehensive analysis of child pornography issues in all of their complexity, including legal, psychological, criminal justice and social perspectives.
  • presents significant volume of original empirical data gathered from police, prosecutors and judges.
  • includes new qualitative and quantitative information set against a background of shifting international developments. The analysis is explicitly comparative.
  • draws on a variety of sources including support groups for paedophiles, newspaper coverage of court cases involving child pornography, victim testimony and police operations.

part |2 pages

Part I Understanding the Context

chapter 1|26 pages

The enduring appeal of child pornography

chapter 2|35 pages

The role of the Internet

chapter 3|33 pages

Why does it matter?

part |2 pages

Part II A National Case Study

chapter 4|52 pages

Ireland in focus

part |2 pages

Part III Formulating a Response

chapter 5|26 pages

Policing: challenges and consequences

chapter 6|26 pages

Prosecuting and punishing

chapter 7|32 pages

Where to from here?