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Child Pornography on the Internet

NCJ Number
Richard Wortley; Stephen Smallbone
Date Published
May 2006
76 pages

After describing the problem of Internet child pornography and reviewing factors that increase the risks of Internet child pornography, this guide presents a series of questions that can assist a law enforcement agency in analyzing its local Internet child pornography problem; the guide concludes with a review of police responses to the problem, along with their effectiveness as measured by evaluative research and police practice.


The Internet has escalated the problem of child pornography by increasing the amount of material available, the efficiency of its distribution, and the ease of its accessibility. This guide's discussion of the problem focuses on the production, distribution, and downloading of images. Since the identification and investigation of child pornography requires having a clear definition of it, this guide discusses both its legal and nonlegal definitions. A profile of users of child pornography encompasses both psychological and offending characteristics. A discussion of the effects of child pornography considers its effects on the children portrayed as well as its users. How Internet child pornography can influence other forms of child sexual abuse is also addressed. Another section of the guide identifies sources of digital (computer) evidence, as well as challenges in controlling Internet child pornography. A major section of the guide poses questions that can help a local law enforcement agency understand its local problem with Internet child pornography. The questions focus on offenses, victims, offenders, computer personnel, community members, resources and collaborations, and the measurement of an agency's effectiveness in countering the problem. An overview of responses describes computer industry self-regulation, legislation, strategies for related industries, workplace responses, citizens' groups, parental action, and law enforcement responses. Responses with limited effectiveness are noted as well. 73 references and appended examples of coordinated law enforcement operations