Can Children Be Groomed Through Child Sexual Abuse Material?

It is generally agreed that sexually exploiting children is unacceptable, yet child exploitation images are absolutely rampant.

Child sexual abuse material (CSAM), commonly known as “child pornography, usually refers to images or videos of a child being sexually abused or otherwise sexually exploited. The internet has allowed for easier access to CSAM, has enabled CSAM-sharing communities to thrive, and has allowed for more anonymity in CSAM-sharing.

In fact, in 2020 alone, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline — the United States’ centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children — received 21.7 million reports of child sexual exploitation, and those reports included 65.4 million images, videos, and other files. [1] And according to anti-trafficking organization Thorn, the United States is one of the largest producers and consumers of CSAM. [2]

Porn and Sexual Violence

But what about more conventional, mainstream porn?

When it comes to conversations about porn and real-life sexual violence, there are two common opposing arguments: first, that porn makes sexual abuse less likely by providing a healthy outlet for those who might otherwise sexually act out in harmful ways, and second, that the toxic narratives in porn actually promote sexual violence.

So which one is more accurate, looking at the research?

Well, according to dozens and dozens of studies, and reviews of available research, porn consumption is actually associated with increased sexual violence, showing that porn certainly doesn’t provide a “healthy outlet” for sexual aggression, and can even normalize it. [3][4][5]

Speaking of normalizing sexual violence, research also indicates that “teen”-themed porn often portrays underage or child-like characters, and is becoming more and more popular. [6]

Grooming Children Through Sex Abuse Material

Grooming often refers to establishing a friendship with a child in order to gain a position of trust and sexually abuse them. Child grooming is often used to lure children into trafficking, too.

Reports indicate that child sexual abuse victims are often groomed for abuse through the use of pornography. [7]

Child sex abuse material can be used as part of the grooming process. Perpetrators may use it as blackmail or coercion. Children’s inhibitions can also be lowered through exposure to sexual material that normalizes abuse. [8][9]

It’s Time to Speak Up

The demand for child sexual abuse materials perpetuates and fuels the issue of child exploitation. It’s time to talk about it and break the cycle.

Citations

[1] National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. (2021). Cybertipline: By the numbers. Retrieved from https://www.missingkids.org/gethelpnow/cybertipline#bythenumbers

[2] Thorn. Child pornography and abuse statistics. Retrieved from https://www.thorn.org/child-pornography-and-abuse-statistics/

[3] Wright, P. J., Tokunaga, R. S., & Kraus, A. (2016). A meta-analysis of pornography consumption and actual acts of sexual aggression in general population studies. Journal of Communication, 66(1), 183–205. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/jcom.12201

[4] Rostad, W. L., Gittins-Stone, D., Huntington, C., Rizzo, C. J., Pearlman, D., & Orchowski, L. (2019). The association between exposure to violent pornography and teen dating violence in grade 10 high school students. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(7), 2137–2147. doi:10.1007/s10508–019–1435–4

[5] Goodson, A., Franklin, C. A., & Bouffard, L. A. (2021). Male peer support and sexual assault: The relation between high-profile, high school sports participation and sexually predatory behaviour. 27(1), 64–80. doi:10.1080/13552600.2020.1733111

[6] Walker, A., Makin, D. A., & Morczek, A. L. (2016). Finding Lolita: A comparative analysis of interest in youth-oriented pornography. Sexuality & Culture: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 20(3), 657–683. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-016-9355-0

[7] Lanning, K. V. (2010). Child molesters: A behavioral analysis for professionals investigating the sexual exploitation of children. (№5). National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Retrieved from https://www.missingkids.org/content/dam/missingkids/pdfs/publications/nc70.pdf

[8] Lanning, K. V. (2010). Child molesters: A behavioral analysis for professionals investigating the sexual exploitation of children. (№5). National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Retrieved from https://www.missingkids.org/content/dam/missingkids/pdfs/publications/nc70.pdf

[9] International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. (2017). Online grooming of children for sexual purposes: Model legislation & global review. ( №1). Retrieved from https://www.icmec.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Online-Grooming-of-Children_FINAL_9-18-17.pdf

Fight the New Drug exists to provide individuals the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding pornography by raising awareness on its harmful effects.