Perceptions of Law Enforcement Officers: Pornography as a Risk Factor for Peer-on-Peer Child Sexual Abuse

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Virginia Tech


Data on peer-on-peer child sexual demonstrates up to one-third of child sexual assaults perpetrated by other children and what the limited data suggest is that these rates are increasing. These alarming rates of sexual abuse take place alongside increased hyper-access to pornography, with the average first age of exposure at 11. Frontline workers who handle child sexual assault victims and perpetrators indicate that pornography creates a risk of sexual assault by and among children. Given that law enforcement officers will eventually see these same cases, what are their perceptions of pornography as a risk factor for peer-on-peer child sexual abuse? By interviewing law enforcement officers in the United States working directly on cases involving child sexual abuse, I examine law enforcement officer's perceptions of the connections between pornography and child sexual abuse. A sample of 11 law enforcement officers identify pornography to have a role in peer-on-peer child sexual abuse. Additionally, the sample distinguishes several differences between how pornography impacts peer-on-peer child sexual abuse versus adult-on-child sexual abuse. This study is essential given the confusion in the law and eventual prosecutions; law enforcement is struggling with legislation that does not fit the reality of the cases and results in prosecutorial issues.



pornography, child sexual abuse, law enforcement, risk factors