Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Study: does decriminalizing child porn lead to lower rates of sex abuse?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 1, 2010 at 3:44 PM

In an article published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, Dr. Milton Diamond and researchers from the University of Hawaii examined the relationship between the availability of legal child pornography and the incidence of child sex abuse. What they found may surprise you.

Diamond examined the number of sex-related crimes recorded in The Czech Republic in the 15 years before the country switched to a democratic government in 1989, and the 18 years after. During this change, the government also relaxed its ban on sexually explicit materials, which included the decriminalization of child porn. Diamond's team discovered that the number of reported cases of child sex abuse dropped significantly after the ban on sexually explicit material lifted. This research would appear to support the idea that porn provides an outlet for sexual frustrations instead of serving as a catalyst for abuse.

In the case of the Czech Republic, it may be difficult to directly link the relaxed pornography laws with lowered sex crimes considering the entire society dramatically changed with the fall of communism. However, researchers note that similar drops in sex crimes involving children also occurred in other countries that permit child porn, including Denmark and Japan. Again, even with these countries it's difficult to attribute lowered rates of sex crimes with porn as opposed to other factors such as legalized prostitution.

Also, even if the decriminalization of child porn was shown to reduce abuse rates, there's still the issue of the welfare of the children depicted in such material. While Diamond made the point that he does not endorse the exploitation of real children, his team suggests that artificially produced materials may be just as effective. In Japan, the trend of Magna, or sexually explicit comic characters, may be what they had in mind. Many of these illustrated characters depict school girls of an unspecified age. There has even been a recent trend of Japanese men who "date" electronic Magna characters via electronic devices or pillows featuring their Magna girlfriends.

Read more about this controversial research at sciencedaily.com

Milton Diamond, Eva Jozifkova, Petr Weiss. "Pornography and Sex Crimes in the Czech Republic." Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2010; DOI: 10.1007/s10508-010-9696-

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