Can Child Porn Actually Prevent Child Abuse?S

A somewhat disturbing new study suggests that legalizing child pornography could actually cause rates of child sexual abuse to fall.

The study looked at the Czech Republic, where child pornography was decriminalized in 1989. According to EurekAlert, the number of cases of child sexual abuse "dropped markedly" right after the end of the ban. 1989 didn't mark the beginning of a general downswing in crime — in fact, murder and robbery became more frequent. And the research apparently mirrors findings in Denmark and Japan, where abuse rates also fell when child porn became more readily available.

These results are distressing because they almost seem like they could be a pedophile's argument: "See, child porn will keep me from raping kids!" But what if the argument is right? What if easy access to pornographic images does make pedophiles less likely to target actual kids? Should we legalize child pornography as a way of keeping kids safe?

EurekAlert does note that the authors of the Czech study "do not approve of the use of real children in the production or distribution of child pornography" — and obviously, taking sexualized pictures of actual children doesn't protect those children from harm. Also, the production of child porn is linked to trafficking, which hurts as many as 1.2 million kids a year. The study authors' solution to this is "artificially produced materials" — but I wouldn't trust pedophiles to stick to Photoshopped stuff if real photos of kids were out there. Nor would I trust pornographers to stop producing photos of real children as long as there was demand for them. In fact, current child porn laws in the US appear to require that the minor depicted be an "actual person" for prosecution to occur, meaning that completely computer-generated images of kids might already be legal. And yet the distribution of actual photos of kids continues. So whether child porn lessens child abuse is something of a moot point — at least as it stands now, producing child porn is itself a form of abuse, and legalizing it would just be swapping one form of harm for another.

Legalizing Child Pornography Is Linked To Lower Rates Of Child Sex Abuse [EurekAlert]

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