Child pornography is an evil that all of us wish to see eradicated, and it is absolutely right that the Government is putting pressure on Internet providers to block and remove such images. Maria Miller (the Culture Secretary) spoke out at the Whitehall summit of web companies saying ‘the industry has to take action’.
But does this response from the Government show a naivety about the Internet, and ignorance at how paedophiles operate? The truth is, there are two distinct groups of people who view child pornography. The first group is the ‘incidental’ viewers who access these kinds of images through conventional search engines. It may be that they harbour underlying, repressed paedophiliac fantasies that become unearthed during regular porn consumption.
These offenders are rarely concerned with security measures and do not take the time to protect their identity. The majority of this group does not abuse children directly, but of course what they are doing is not legal and must be stopped. If the Government’s plan works and Internet providers block such images, these incidental viewers will be unable to access child pornography.
While on the surface this may seem like an ideal solution, the Government is forgetting about another, more dangerous group of offenders – ‘purpose’ viewers. This group does not use conventional means to access illegal material, instead they turn to the ‘deep web’ where policing is practically impossible. Here they connect with others and share files via email and instant messaging.
It is this group that police are struggling with. According to statistics only one in 15 of those caught viewing illegal material are arrested – and that’s only the offenders who come to the police’s attention.
A controversial approach to tackling this problem involves helping those with paedophiliac tendencies. According to the World Health Organisation’s International Classification of Diseases, paedophillia is a mental illness, however there are very few resources to help treat sufferers.
If an investment were made into the treatment of paedophilia and the clean-up of the Internet, perhaps the police would be better able to apprehend those perpetrators of abuse who so often go unnoticed.
If you are suffering from a mental health issue, speaking to a counsellor is often the first step to recovery. For more information, please see our Mental Health page.
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