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6 Ways the Mainstream Porn Industry Fuels Child Sexual Abuse

By October 6, 2020No Comments
This article was originally shared by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and is reposted with permission. It has been edited for length.

Disclaimer: Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative awareness and education organization. Some of the issues discussed in the following article are legislatively-affiliated. Including links and discussions about these legislative matters does not constitute an endorsement by Fight the New Drug. Though our organization is non-legislative, we fully support the regulation of already illegal forms of pornography and sexual exploitation, including the fight against sex trafficking.

The Research-backed Links Between Pornography and Child Sexual Abuse

By Renae Powers

Child sexual abuse is an atrocity that goes against the very nature of human dignity. While this appears to be widely known and agreed upon, something that many around the world don’t know is the role pornography plays in fueling child sexual abuse. Yet, when taking into account the common themes of mainstream pornography, which include teen, children, and incest, it is not difficult to see that child sexual abuse and the porn industry have closer ties than one might be aware of.

Below we’ve broken out six connections between pornography and child sexual abuse that are important to understand.

1. Pornography Feeds the Growing Appetites of Child Sexual Abusers

Pornography has a number of public health impacts and negative consequences to the user, their network, and to society. Pornography is connected to increased violence against women, increased demand for prostitution and sex trafficking, and even to increased sexual dysfunction in otherwise healthy young men. (Learn more about this here and here.)

Pornography also can be connected to the sexual abuse of children. Consider some of the following connections:

2. Child Sexual Abusers Use Pornography to Create Plans of Action

There have been several documented cases of child sexual abusers using pornography to help them craft their plan of action for abuse. Child sexual abuse images (i.e. child pornography) often “inspire” the abusers to follow suit, in many cases even recording their sexual abuse of children to use and/or distribute as their own pornography.

This article reports on the influence porn had on one man, Samuel Seager, and the abuse he inflicted on a 12-year-old girl. In the article Seager said, “Would I have done so much with her if it hadn’t been what I’d seen on the Internet? Got ideas and really started playing with the deviant part of my mind? With these cases, you don’t know what you would have done without that influence in your life… It’s safe to say that the abuse was more aggressive, pronounced or worse because of (pornography).”

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Mainstream pornography often includes performers and storylines that are supposed to mimic teen and child-like scenarios.  A few samples of the titles of pornographic videos that were available for purchase on Comcast NBC Universal make it easy to see where these plans of action come from:

  • Teen Petite A-Cup Princesses
  • UK Schoolgirls Pounded
  • Innocent Easy Teens in Public
  • Sweet Babysitters Drenched in Spunk
  • 10 Best: Tiny Teen Cuties
3. Child Sexual Abusers’ Tastes for Pornographic Content Depicting Younger Performers Increase Over Time

A study done by Fortin & Proulx in 2018 analyzed data extracted from the hard drives of 40 convicted child abuse image (i.e., child pornography) collectors. What they found is that the tastes of these individuals grew more severe over time. 37.5% of the collections increased in severity in terms of both age and extremeness (measured using the Combating Paedophile Information Networks in Europe [COPINE] scale), meaning that the children depicted became younger and the acts became more extreme over time. They also noted that all of the child pornography collections included mainstream pornography content.

This is consistent with research that discusses the novelty-seeking behavior of pornography users.

This article on YourBrainOnPorn.com says, “Compulsive porn users often describe escalation in their porn use that takes the form of greater time viewing or seeking out new genres of porn.” The article then goes on to share the experiences many users have had of escalation of porn use and what materials are needed to arouse them, including child sexual abuse images in some cases (WARNING: contains language and scenarios which some may find offensive).

different article on the same site says, “The evidence is mounting that streaming digital porn appears to alter sexual tastes in some users, and that this is due to the addiction-related brain change known as habituation or desensitization.” A member survey produced in 2012 on Reddit/NoFap found that over 60% of its users described their sexual tastes as having experienced significant escalation through multiple porn genres.

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4. Abusers Point Children to Pornography as a Way to Groom and “Train” Their Victims

Another way pornography is connected to child sexual abuse is the way in which the abusers use it to groom and train their child victims. Grooming in this sense is done by repeated exposure of the child to both adult and child pornography. This exposure is intended to diminish the child’s inhibitions and give the impressions that sex between adults and children is normal, acceptable, and enjoyable. Pornography is also used by abusers to arouse, instruct, and desensitize their child victims. It shows the child what the abuser wants him/her to do and teaches them that sex (including violent sex) feels good and sexual acts get rewarded.

In addition, exposure to pornography greatly increases a child’s likelihood of being a victim of sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other forms of physical and sexual victimizations. This has been backed by research from various countries, including studies from the United States and Italy. According this study done by Latzman, et al., in 2011, “Early exposure to pornography may impact a child’s view of what is normative and impair the ability to avoid, deter, or negotiate from a dangerous situation…” This damaged view of what is normal in sexual relationships can and does have major effects on the children involved.

5. Pornography Normalizes Deviant and Dangerous Sexual Behaviors

Pornography also serves a role in the abuse of children and adolescents by normalizing paraphilic behaviors or disorders, such as pedophilia and sexual aggression/violence. A 2018 study by Eran Shor, PhD., found that teenagers in pornographic videos were “more likely to experience particular forms of aggression and degrading or risky sex acts. Specifically, teens were more than twice as likely as adults to be in videos featuring anal penetration, and about five times more likely to be in videos featuring forceful anal penetration with an apparent intent to cause pain.” The same study says that 90% of teenage females in videos containing visible aggression displayed pleasure, compared to 54% when visible aggression was not present.

The researcher who put together this study noted in response to the prevalence of aggression and demeaning acts in videos featuring teenagers that it “may signal to viewers of all ages that these acts are not only normative and legitimate, but perhaps even expected.” This creates immense social pressure on young men and women to re-enact these behaviors with their sexual partners. Dr. Shor also said that “the high prevalence of unprotected anal intercourse in such videos may lead female teenagers to engage more frequently in unprotected anal sex,” thus increasing their risk for STDs.

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6. Pornography Has Been Found to Be Connected to a Rise in Child-on-Child Harmful Sexual Behavior

Sadly, adults aren’t the only perpetrators of child sexual abuse. In an article on their website Protect Young Minds spoke with a forensic interviewer at a child advocacy center who reported that her office was “seeing a ‘tidal wave’ of kids who are acting out sexually after viewing pornography.” This dramatic increase in child-on-child harmful sexual behaviors is more dramatic than even the experts originally believed. In Missouri alone, experts predicted there would be about 600 cases in a year, but there ended up being over 2,000 in the first five months! Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Heidi Olson talks in our Sexploitation? podcast about the marked rise in juvenile sexual assault that she has seen at the prominent children’s hospital she works at, siting pornography as a major influencer in the harmful sexual behavior of these children.

At the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, we’ve heard story after heartbreaking story about children being sexually harmed by other children, and in nearly every case we’ve heard, pornography has had a role to play. Take, for instance, the story of a 13-year-old boy who raped an 8-year-old neighbor girl multiple times in front of other children. The boy appears to have been addicted to hardcore pornography at the time of the incident. In another case, a teen girl in Ireland was brutally raped, tortured, and murdered just last year by two male classmates- one of whom had thousands of pornographic images on his cell phones.

Cases like these happen far more often than authorities have anticipated, and it’s time to get serious about combating pornography’s role in the sexual abuse of children by anyone- including other children.

Click here to see the original article on the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s site.

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