Criminal Justice

Child-Porn Linked to Abuse

Posted Jul 19, 2007 9:33 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A new study finds a strong link between viewing child pornography on the Internet and child molestation.

The study of 155 inmates convicted of downloading child pornography found that 85 percent had sexually abused minors, the New York Times reports. Previous studies had suggested the number was only 30 percent to 40 percent of child-porn arrestees.

The study’s authors are psychologists Andres Hernandez and Michael Bourke.

“Many Internet child pornography offenders may be undetected child molesters,” they conclude. However, they said the results may be skewed because the offenders who took part in the study had volunteered for treatment, and they may be different from those who decline help.

The study had been scheduled for publication in an academic journal, but the Federal Bureau of Prisons ordered that it be withdrawn. The department said it was concerned the results could be misinterpreted.

Jill Levenson, who chairs the ethics committee of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers, said the study is important.

“It’s crucial to understand the sexual history of all these offenders, because sometimes the crime they were arrested for is the tip of the iceberg, and does not reflect their real patterns and interests,” she told the newspaper.

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