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THE PORNOGRAPHY QUESTION 

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"Pornography does predispose some men to commit sexual abuse, and I have little doubt that the predisposition for some men can actually lie solely in the area of pornography. In other words, for some men it is just pornography -- and nothing else -- which creates the predisposition to commit sexual abuse."
(Wyre, 1992, pp. 237-238)

While no one has demonstrated decisively the relationship between fantasy and action, the lay public and some experts on see offenders tend to regard the link as a matter of proven cause and effect. 

Wyre, for example, apparently never has to date presented single detailed case study of a paedophile in print, let alone one which demonstrates his thesis. Perhaps, as a consequence, one need not spend too much time on his assertion that fantasy can be the precursor to crime, obtained from the fantasy content or pornography. 

Common-sense theories tend to be contradictory. For example, there is a lot to be said for the notion of fantasy as substitute for action, a largely separate stream of experience or a substitute for reality. The original psychoanalytic view of fantasy as wish fulfillment took a similar stance.

Nevertheless, there has been little acknowledgement of this in the debate on the effects of pornography and the legislation that has accompanied it 

(although exceptions include McCormack, 1988; van Naerssen et al., 1987 Vine, 1990). 

The feminist slogan "pornography is the theory, rape the practice" (Morgan, 1978) encapsulates the view that fantasy is the precursor to action. Some theorists see it as a cognitive process in which the offender learns false social norms and expectations from pornography. Thus, the role of pornography may be different from creating vivid sexual images which, at first, are used to accompany masturbation but later are inflicted on a victim. 

While some therapists see fantasy as part of an escalating offending cycle 

(once again, Wyre, 1990, being an  extreme case in point), 

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the direct evidence for this is slight. One cannot simply take evidence that offenders use and buy pornography as sufficient to implicate pornography causally in their offending. The most reasonable assessment based on the available research literature is that the relationship between pornography, fantasy and offending is unclear.

Often issues get confused when pornography is debated. The control of pornography might well be desirable simply on the grounds of its intrinsic offensiveness to sectors of the public 

(e.g. Cowan, Chase and Stahly, 1989; Eysenck and Nias, 1978). 

Unfortunately, The offensiveness issue tends to be confounded with public concern about
the harm done by pornography. Of course, harm to the user of pornography is a common legal test of obscenity -- its ability "to deprave and corrupt" (Taylor, 1984) -- but the modern feminist view has emphasized the additional harm condition whereby people --  women and children especially -- are increasingly of risk of sexual violence because of pornography's sexually violent themes (Howitt, 1991; Russell, 1988). Such arguments are commonly made by opponents of pornography; frequently they are promoted by the mass media themselves (Howitt, 1994). 

Controversies concerning other social issues use the same structure. Drugs, media violence, poverty, promiscuity and education yield similar harm theses. Despite being superficially different, the rhetoric remains much the same. Third parties, not oneself, are held to be at greatest risk (Innes and Zeitz, 1988). 

Harm theses are usually expressed simplistically; that looking at pornography will make men commit sex crimes takes a commonsensical appearance. This can also be seen in the political response to official reports such as the US Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1970) and the British Williams Report (1979). Latterly, Howitt and Cumberbatch (1990) failed to find strong evidence of the adverse effects of pornography which prompted one government minister to comment:

"There can be little doubt that pornography has an insidious and de-humanising effect on attitudes to women and family relations."
(The Home Secretary, Home Office press release, 20 December 1990)

Similar attitudes have spawned much research into the effects of pornography since the late 1960s, when the United States government first commissioned psychological and other research into obscenity and pornography (Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, 1970).

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Indeed, the origins of social scientific interest in pornography trace back to this single initiative; virtually no research had been done until then. 

A major theme in this earlier research was the effect of pornography on sexuality in general, including such matters as promiscuity and illegitimacy -- major social and moral concerns of the time. During the 1970s, under the influence of feminist ideas 

(Brownmiller, 1975; Burgess and Holmstrom, 1979; Lederer, 1980; Russell, 1975), 

the reserach emphasis shifted to the question of sexual violence 

(Cumberbatch and Howitt, 1989). 

Despite changes in emphasis, questions concerning pornography continue to be framed mostly in terms of effects. The debate has been acrimonious and controversial, not only within academia but also in the responses of politicians and pressure groups 

(Brannigan and Goldenberg, 1987; Cline, 1974; Wilcox, 1987). 

Psychology has been central to the debate, largely because of experiments (e.g. Donnerstein and Linz, 1986) that allowed causal interpretations -- though at the price of ecological validity (Brannigan, 1987). 

Attention ought to be directed towards sexually violent crime rather than peripheral matters such as sexual arousal or promiscuity, which are only tangentially related to the crime issue 

(as are most laboratory studies, which demonstrate a marked lack of even superficial validity).

Statistical investigations of crime statistics have dominated the more ecologically valid studies of pornography. These studies have had a variety of foci, but especially changes in the 
known crime rates in response to putative changes in the availability of pornography and similar time series analyses (Court, 1977, 1984; Kutchinsky, 1973, 1991), as well as comparisons of sex crime rates in regions differing in the amounts of sex magazines in circulation (Baron and Straus, 1987, 1989).  

Of these authors, Court alone suggests that pornography causes sex crime. It is well known that Kutchinsky's rejection of the "pornography causes sex crime" thesis has been controversial (e.g. Bachy, 1976). An obvious limitation of such studies is that they consist of macro level analyses which, at best, can tell us little directly about how offenders use pornography and are possibly influenced pschologically. To emphasize the point, in general the authors of these studies have not implicated pornography in sexual crime, although others have interpreted the data differently (e.g. Baxter, 1990). 

Investigations of sex offenders themselves, rather than official crime statistics, might offer greater insight into the links between sexual crime and pornography. Whether or not using appropriate 

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control groups, these studies tend to show fairly high levels of exposure to pornography during late childhood and adolescence among sexual offenders in general. But, set against fairly high levels of exposure to such material in the general population, the differences found between sex offenders and others are often relatively small and statistically insignificant, or tend to suggest that offenders have less experience with pornography 

(Carter and Frentky, 1990; Carter et at., 1987; Cook and Fosen, 1970; Gebhard et at. , 1965; Goldstein, 1973; Goldstein and Kant, 1973). 

Similarly, studies of the age of first exposure to pornography show offenders to be no different from controls or to become involved with pornography later in adolescence 

(Condron and Nutter, 1988; Walker, 1970). 

Whatever else, a clear-cut adverse link between sexual crime and pornography has not been demonstrated by such statistical studies -- neither for age of initial use of the material nor for the amount consumed. 

Studies that treat sex offenders as a relatively homogeneous group, undifferentiated according to offence 

(Knight and Frentky, 1990; Knight, Rosenberg and Schneider, 1985) 

find no differences in offenders' potential to be aroused by or preferences for different types of pornography 

(Carter et at., 1987; Cook and Fosen, 1970; Johnson, Kupperstein and Fetters, 1970).

Consideration of research examining different offender types might reform this impression. Rapists of adult women are especially aroused by images of violence against women 

(Abel et at., 1977; Barbaree, Marshall. and Lanthier, 1979; Hinton, O'Neill and Webster, 1980; Quinsey, Chaplin and Upton, 1984). 

Turning to the current use of pornography at the time of their offending, it has been shown over the last 30 years or so that there is no strong and consistent trend for sexual offenders to be more avid consumers of pornography than other men. 

Cook and Fosen (1970), Goldstein et al. (1970), Johnson, Kupperstein and Fetters (1970) and Walker (1970) all suggest that offenders are similar to non-offenders -- what differences emerge imply that offenders are less frequent users of pornography. 

Langevin et al. (1988) interviewed over 200 offenders and 150 controls but found no evidence that pornography was a factor in the offending. Goldstein (1973), in contrast, reports that many more of his rapists claimed to have been aroused to masturbate by pornography than his control group did. The proportions of offenders blaming pornography for their offending vary. Becker and Stein (1991) found 10% making such a claim, while 

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half of child molesters claimed incitement by pornography in Marshall's (1988) study. 

Offenders' claims about pornography's influence on their lives may be self-serving; for example, by helping them to avoid self-blame for offences. Research on offenders demonstrates a paucity of interest in the development of deviant sexual fantasy. The use of self-completion questionnaires in much of the relevant research may not be conducive to complete disclosure of something as sensitive as fantasy. 

It would appear that the existence of deviant fantasy among some offenders is established (Carter et at., 1987). Nevertheless, it might be naive to speculate that particular detailed types of fantasy accompany certain types of offence, let alone suggest what these types might be. It is a matter of conjecture how early sexual experiences might relate to fantasy (Howitt and Cumberbatch, 1990) but even mainstream research suggests that it is fairly common for offenders to have been physically and sexually abused as children 

(Hecker and Stein, 1991; Carter et al., 1987; Seghorn, Prentky and Houcher, 1987). 

Significantly, Rhue and Lynn (1987) found that high levels of fantasy were associated with severe physical abuse in childhood -- a characteristic not uncommon in the childhoods of paedophiles, as we have seen. 

Surveys and other statistical approaches have failed to provide clear information about the ways in which sexual offending relates to the use of pornography. There has typically been very little opportunity taken to investigate in detail the interplay between the offender as an individual and his experience of pornography. Virtually no extensive case studies are available on offenders, with the exception of Kutchinsky's (1976) account of the long-term sexual history of a "peeper". 

He was an active sexual deviant many years before first seeing pornography; his deviant impulses were channelled by pornography, not created by them. 

Following an extensive review of the research on pornography and sexual violence, Howitt and Cumberbatch (1990) wrote: 

"...  the general assumption of the available research is that normal men and deviants get the same sorts of things out of pornography and that it is exposure as such which is the critical factor. Of course, this is an assumption which is useful to researchers, it does not itself mean that individuals with deviant tendencies process pornography in exactly the same way as 'non-deviant' men." 
(Howitt and Cumberbatch, 1990, p. 44) 

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Case studies 

reveal the complexity underlying the superficially simple question of how sexual fantasy, perhaps stimulated by pornography, is involved in paedophile offending. The case studies discussed in this chapter are men with long-standing criminal paedophile records. The choice of research location is vital to enable the elicitation of fantasy material, since the institutional context may inhibit disclosure by encouraging denial or motivated distortions, for example, because offenders make assumptions about the interrelationships between researchers and management. 

I decided to research a group of paedophiles in a treatment setting in which this particular motivated distortion was less likely. The men were all well into their assessment or treatment programmes, in which disclosure concerning the offences, pornography and histories of being abused, inter alia, had been stressed. An atmosphere of disclosure seemed to be more conducive to effective research. Certainly there was little or no evidence of the denial that some see as characteristic of sex offenders in the early stages of assessment (Wyre, 1987). 

Spontaneous comments during the interviews indicated that sensitive information would have been withheld in penal settings. Only a small amount of the material gathered can be reported; topics are confined largely to the use of and experience with pornography, fantasy and sexual history, especially related to childhood sexual experiences.

Case 1: Brian

When Brian was about 10 years old, he first saw pornographic magazines which his stepfather kept in a cupboard. By 13, he was masturbating to magazines obtained from a friend; titles such as Fiesta, which are considered to be of the "soft-core" type. Brian's fantasies were not of women in the main -- his sexual history reveals little or no involvement with them. In his adolescence he used "non- pornographic pornography":

"things like clothing catalogues, that is you've got children in their underwear or dressing gowns, whatever or even in the toy catalogues...  they show you an outdoor swimming pool inflated and they show the children in it, but the children would not be naked and that sort of thing ... Just normal clothing catalogues from like Kay's [a mail order company] ... children that are dressed in underwear or nightdresses or swimming costumes... . Sometimes I would deface the pictures as well. By drawing penises into their mouth or vagina or draw them urinating ... things like reading ... in the paper about abuse, that would cause

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masturbation ... you'd see young children getting into bed, or young children undressed naked, there was quite a lot of that on TV, and even simple things like adverts ... " 

This erotic interest notwithstanding, he claims not to have seen commercial child pornography. It is his belief that his "non- pornographic pornography" had an indirect role in his offending 
because it strengthened the desire to be involved with children. 

Similar self-made-pornography is discussed in Holmes (1991). In terms of childhood sexual abuse, Brian claimed: 

"... I first became a victim when I was 10, I was getting abused... . I felt our parents sent us out to the park on a regular basis at weekends, 'cause they wanted to get rid of us, 'cause we are under their feet... . I had a brother who was eight and a brother who was five and ended up getting involved with this guy or should I say that this guy got involved with us, paying us money for sexual acts ... " 

His abuse of other children began at 13 years, when he was in a children's home. 

Case 2: Bernard 

Bernard has had a long-term fantasy of sex (vaginal and anal) with a particular physical "type" of woman as well as an obsession concerning his beliefs about the small size of his penis. Although he caid that he had been interested in "blue videos", he was deterred because of the largeness of the male genitals in such material. He admitted to enjoying magazines containing pictures of naked women which: 

"gave me ideas... sometimes I would fantasize [about] them but basically I'd say the fantasy [of vaginal and anal sex with a particular physical type] was the overriding thing... " 

It was not until he was in the army that he saw pornographic material. He suggests that: 

"... I am weird because my fantasy stayed constant since I was young ...  throughout my life since I was say 13-14 it has always been women's bottoms and girls' bottoms ... been with me all the time." 

He claimed that newspapers or films in which a woman "showed" her "bum" would start him fantasizing. Bernard had extensively 

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photographed adult women although he had not taken "self-made" pornography of his girl victims, although:

"with the two girls involved this last time I actually brought a Polaroid camera with the intention of taking pornographic pictures, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it."

His offences were indecent assaults on females.

Case 3: Adrian

Adrian is a prolific fantasizer capable of manipulating his imagery extensively. His offending had been against boys and had started while he was still at preparatory school. He had used pornography as part of the "grooming process" -- the preparation of circumstances appropriate to initiating the offence. 

His collection of pornography had at one stage been worth 7000 cost price and included "hard- core" material such as Boys International, Golden Boys and Male International. He claims to have first seen this sort of material at the age of 16 while he was still at boarding school. However, his sources of fantasy included videos and television:

"Walt Disney is very good ... There are a lot of children's videos and some of them like American Scout Troops and things like that...  Grange Hill [a school series] type of things you know ... "

He also used other sources such as naturist beaches:

"... or I would be watching the television and a boy who's blond would come up on the television, clothed, fully clothed ... but then I would take that picture of the boy, use my fantasy to undress him, I put the parts that I had in my memory to fantasize and to build up ... I could see a boy ... who was clothed, say, on a bicycle. I could take that boy I could put him into shorts so I could see what he looked like ... A typical example ... if I watch Huckleberry Finn on the television, I can get to a point that I am going to think about him, I might even change the whole situation, by fantasizing and masturbating over him ... [A] poster with three boys or three girls, or a boy and two girls, sticking their tongues out on a big poster by the side of the road; and I fantasized of how the boy would look ... so that he was naked."

Case 4: Garry

Garry admitted that he had looked at pornography in prison but that it did not interest him really:

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"I think it's a right rip-off the price they charge for it. I have watched a few blue movies but neither here or there ... I think I might have gone into some photographic stuff 'cause I was up on top of the tower block and I was in a very privileged position in the summer especially when I could look down onto lots of back gardens and there was quite a few back gardens which had kids ... The only ... magazine that I got ... the odd one that was brought to work, and that was the spanking magazine ... and that was normally schoolgirls about 13, 14 that type of age ... I think a lot of them turned me on because I was so horribly treated when I was 13 or 14 myself and I think it's me getting back at them ...  revenge." 

This refers to incidents with female peers during adolescence. He ad seen videos of a soft-porn sort but tends to regard them as humorous: 

"I get turned on more by what they're wearing ... suggestive ... if they were completely bare with a bare backside it wouldn't really turn me on ... if they were wearing certain clothes it would turn me on more ... " 

He denied using pornography in pre-offence preparation. Although spanking was part of his later offending, it was he who was spanked -- a reversal of his fantasy. His initial offending was indecent exposure to children but later on there was contact abuse. Garry had 
been sexually abused by a stranger at the age of about 10 or 11, which involved masturbation and oral sex to the man. He also claims to have witnessed men indecently exposing themselves before this age. 

Case 5: George 

George's offending involved touching girls in the 8- to 15-year-old age group under their clothing. He had not seen any pornography until his late 40s. Esquire type magazines he found interesting but repetitive. A couple of years before the interview he had a collection of soft-porn videos. None of this material had been used in relation to his victims. George had neither seen any pornography involving children nor taken photographs of his victims. Describing his sexual fantasies, he said: 

"I would suddenly be in a dream and there would be one there but it was a loving relationship. I wouldn't dash her on the ground and jump on her or anything like that. It was kissing and hugging." 

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He describes his fantasies about children as being very similar to this fantasy with adults.

Case 6: Charlie

Charlie's earliest sexual experiences were with other boys during adolescence. His first heterosexual experience was with his future wife while at university following a period of time in the army. However, sexual fantasies involving boys tended to dominate over heterosexual ones even during this time. His preferred age group with boys was the 9- to 13-year-olds, particularly blond haired, blue eyed, athletic types. For a period his paedophiliac contact was largely "horseplay", which created sexual arousal but did not reach the stage of illegality. 

He would cut pictures from scout magazines, which provided erotic arousal. Nudity did not feature and the material was personally selected "non-pornographic pornography". Early on, his fantasies did not involve nakedness but this changed in his 40s after he moved in for a while with a family, when he saw his victim in various stages of undress every day -- in the shower and so forth.

Case 7: Michael

Michael sees the origins of his fantasy in childhood visits to Saturday morning children's movie matinees. He identified strongly with the heroes: 

"I remember at 10 or 11 years of age being sexually aroused by the ...  heroine tied to a chair or a railway track or wherever, and when I was 11 or 12 ... we often used to have large family get togethers and my cousin who was almost my age (a girl) and we used to be left to our own devices, the family would talk 'adult' talk, we would go away and play with my train set. But very often through that 11,12,13 we would play kidnap games where I would tie her up and I got great arousal from that, and of course I used it as fantasy and masturbation and got sexual pleasure/enjoyment out of it ... It seemed fun, we both looked on it as fun and I never saw anything sinister about it, and it was the first moment of sexual arousal and it sowed the seeds for what has become a pattern of offending throughout the years."

This pattern of tying up an adolescent/pre-adolescent girl and going elsewhere to masturbate in private reflects the man's adulthood offending very precisely:

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"...  I would tie her up, talk through a story (I would invent a story) and then I would leave her to go and masturbate and then come back and untie her. In fact most of the girls weren't even properly tied because one of the devices when I had finished I would say 'just untie yourself which they could." 

His use of pornography in the conventional sense seems to have been nil, but he did report that: 

"There was a period when I discovered a bookshop ... where they had bondage magazines and occasionally I would smuggle a magazine like that, I think I worried myself sick for the duration and ended up putting it in the bin somewhere far away. I was scared of discovery ...  these were photograph magazines, sometimes in the form of a weekly story which was really just a vehicle for the bondage." 

This was during his late teenage years to early 20s. In his 30s, living away from home for the first time: 

"...  if I saw bits and pieces of cartoons where someone was tied up I would cut them out and make a collage. And when I was feeling isolated or needed a bit of stimulates [sic] I would fantasize to these pictures." 

During his offending period in his middle age, he began to use Polaroid cameras to take picture of his "target" child but nudity as such was of little or no interest to him in his fantasy: 

"In fact I have seen a couple of the heavy bondage magazines and they completely turn me off. I can't understand them at all...  If I was watching television which showed some girls or even grown ups (because I fantasized about grown ups through television as well), I would video the film and then watch it when I was alone finding the particular point in the film that I could masturbate to." 

Case 8: Terry 

Terry abused his three stepdaughters, including having full sexual intercourse with one of them from 10 to 18 years. A feature of his early life was sexual assault at the age of 4 to 6 years by his elder brother, including oral sex, and a sister from about 7 to 10 years. Although he knows his father sexually abused his sisters, he did not abuse Terry. More dominant is his first sexual intercourse with an 

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underage girl two years older than his 12 or 13 years and another girl slightly later while he was at boarding school. His fantasies largely centre around these girls, who seem to correspond to his preferred physical type:

"...  the same length hair, and same body proportions, and very similar in each case ... as the girls which were at school...  the fantasy would always revolve around what actually happened at school, where I would be in the bedroom having sex with either girl... just sort of going on old experiences ... I started noticing the stepchildren as being of the same proportions and then the fantasies would be going on with the schoolgirls which I had actually had sex with and the stepdaughters would come and take the place ... in the situation at school ...  eventually it became then in the home setting, and then the fantasy led to abuse."

His experience with pornography went back to his early childhood, perhaps as young as five years, when he saw pornography that his brothers had hidden away:

"I remember one particular, it was only a small book, it wasn't one of the big ones, and there are pictures -- ladies bums -- and I used to sit on the toilet looking at them."

His experience of pornography involving females of his fantasy age group was minimal:

"The only things I have seen anything remotely to do with that is a couple of books on ... Health and Efficiency [a naturist magazine] and there have been a couple of immature looking girls in there. But it has never been enough to sexually arouse me more than ... a fully formed woman ... like 20, 22, 23 and upwards which have been more stimulating than the actual young child's form ... I saw one ... which one of my neighbours had once, ... she had half a fish up her anus and another half... coming out of her vagina. And another one where there was a pig and [someone] screwing it, but that sort of repulsed me more than anything ... I never sort of seeked it out any more than that, because they were pretty illegal I think ... I suppose you can get hold of them but I never sought it out."

Case 9: Graham

The background of Graham has already been described in detail in Chapter 1.

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Case 10: Mike 

He has a 22-year history of abusing extra-familially, which included indecent assaults on both sexes and masturbation on boys, although he had not engaged in penetrative sex with them. He would afterwards masturbate to the fantasy of the offences. His offending had started at the age of 17: 

"1 was abused by a relative of mine, my father's brother, at the age of 14. I was also raped at the age of 17 by four lads who actually held me down whilst this other bloke raped me." 

Only since entering treatment had he started to have sexual fantasies about adult women. Pornography was used by his uncle as part of the abuse perpetrated on Mike -- this was generally available heterosexually orientated men's magazines such as Playboy. Pornography, he claims: 

"wasn't involved in my offending. But I can use a man's magazine today, say like something like the Knave, and read the stories out of there which will make me excited. And I would masturbate to the thoughts of that story of the man and the woman having sexual intercourse or the woman masturbating the man, or the man caressing the woman. I could masturbate to them thoughts ... Not the pictures they turn me off ... I cannot stand the sight of a woman being plastered all over a magazine like they do, that downgrades a woman." 

He had never seen child pornography but mentioned some television commercials that contained scantily dressed women which he was able to masturbate to. 

Case 11 : Paul 

Paul's offending history was a long one, going, as he put it: 

"as far as finger rape, there were girls and there was boys and my finger was against the boys in their anuses, and some of the girls who were older, fully developed or who I felt to be fully developed, then I would use my finger to masturbate them". 

His fantasy might start: 

"... with walking out in a field or something like that, because with a fantasy you can do all sorts of things with it. You can do what you like with a fantasy. But to go into a fantasy it could be if I'm making love to 

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my wife. I could be in a fantasy, not of my wife but of this child ... I used to change the picture, that I'm not making love to my wife but I am loving the child... you cannot make love to a child. They cannot give consent for a start, it's illegal rape that's what it boils down to. So I'm treating that child as an adult, now that's in the fantasy ..."

He has seen pornography:

"...  but not child. That has never appealed to me. I have never been into that. I have seen it and I have read the stories but they were not all that fantastic. It turns me dead. I am not interested. But yet I could put a Parade picture up and that to me was art but also helped with my fantasies. I could use it-relieve my frustrations and I like it that way."

He wanted to, but never did, take photographs of the children he abused because of fear that they might be discovered:

"I did use club books [mail order catalogues] with children in their panties. They turned me on."

He videoed children's television programmes: 

"I actually tried to freeze the pictures so I could masturbate".

Such comments present a nurmber of dilemmas for the literature on the effects of pornography on offending. These stem from the fuller picture provided by the case studies, in which additional factors in offending can be considered besides pornography. Nevertheless, the research also provides confirmation of some previous findings from research. 

One can seriously doubt whether reliance solely on questionnaires given to offender populations or experimental studies of offenders can fully illuminate precisely the role of pornography in the offending process. There are a number of reasons for this. In particular, our experience in collecting the case study material is that certain information, such as times and sequencing, is very difficult for participants to recall quickly and accurately. Also, in the case study approach, information is revealed that might not fall within the frame of reference of the survey questionnaire. 

The compressed case studies presented here omit material that does not bear directly on pornography. For example, it spontaneously emerged early in the research that the paedophiliac offenders' sexual fantasies frequently involved themselves at afar younger age (especially adolescence).

Another unpredicted aspect of paedophiles' fantasy emerged 

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regularly in these case studies. It seems clear that commercial commercial pornography is only of limited interest to many offenders.  Very little interest in child pornography was expressed by most of the paedophiles -- if by child pornography we mean nude children explicitly posed or involved in sexual activity (see also Marshall, 1988). 

Some of the offenders expressed strong distaste for that sort of thing although few had actually seen it. Nevertheless, some of the offenders had an affinity for imagery that they found to be sexually stimulating. This was to be found in licit newspapers and magazines, television programmes and videos that did not normally involve nudity (although occasionally television advertisements with bare babies or toddlers were mentioned). 

The range of such materials was quite extensive, varying from pictures of children in their underwear found in mail order catalogues through to Walt Disney videos. It is unlikely that normal adults process this material erotically. 

Not quite so surprising is the choice of "pornographic" materials, which was largely limited to general heterosexual pornography of the so-called "soft-porn" type. It has to be stressed that some of the offenders expressed a distaste for this sort of material as well. A sizeable proportion of the paedophiles seemed to use heterosexual pornography more as an entertainment rather than to promote paedophiliac fantasy. 

Previous studies have not found very strong evidence for specific arousal factors in different types of pornography, with only tentative exceptions (Howitt, 1991). There may be several reasons why this should be the case. 

Firstly, a proportion of paedophiles show a pronounced erotic fixation on a particular age group and physical type which may not be well catered for by the pornography trade. 

Secondly, conventionally defined child pornography may well fail to include powerfully erotic stimuli. For example, if an offender finds glimpses of children's underwear particularly sexually arousing, child pornography featuring nudity or adult-child sexual involvement quite simply fails to meet his sexual needs. 

Thirdly, many paedophiles also seek to engage in heterosexual relationships with adult women. The apparent lack of interest in child pornography may be due to concern about being "caught" with certain illicit materials in their possession. 

Finally, since offenders tend not to construe their involvement with children as primarily sexual, interest in child pornography might put this "distorted" linking under strain. 

But, of course, these men have chosen to exercise their paedophiliac feelings directly through assaults on children. As a 

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consequence, they may be less likely to need paedophiliac pornography for use in masturbation since they generate fantasy through their offences. Only a few of the paedophiles actually reported orgasm as part of their offending; many would masturbate to fantasy arising out of their offending at a later time. 

In this context it is interesting that some paedophiles take photographs of their victims or would like to have taken such photographs. Given these factors, perhaps it is not surprising that the men did not put effort into obtaining illegal materials when they had ready sources of fantasy in their offending, in licit materials and in children they observed in the street or elsewhere. 

In the literature on pornography (especially Burgess and Hartman, 1987; Tate, 1990), suggestions are made concerning the function of pornography in the "grooming process" (Wyre, 1987). Grooming, as we have seen, is the steps taken by paedophiles to "entrap" their victims and is in some ways analogous to adult courtship. One suggestion is that offenders show children pornography (especially adult-child sexual depictions) as part of this -- possibly in order to make adult-child sex appear "normal". Only one of the men actually did this. This is not to deny that this sort of use of pornography occurs but merely to suggest its limited extent. Another of the men who had been abused by an adult as a child reported that this involved pornography.

One difficulty relates to sequencing. As we have seen, research has tried to ascertain whether sex offenders were exposed to pornography earlier in their childhoods than non-sexual offenders. The implicit theory underlying this is the notion of the depravation of childhood innocence. 

If anything, the research actually suggests that sex offenders are likely to see pornography for the first time marginally later in childhood than non-offenders (Howitt and Cumberbatch, 1990), although this is only a slight trend. While at first appearing paradoxical, it might indicate that sex offenders are relatively naive about sex, making it difficult for them to form contacts with other adults. 

However, paedophiles do not appear to be sexual illiterates or sexually naive. In the sexual histories of all of our offenders was evidence of significant sexual activity during childhood; for example, all but one had been the victim of direct sexual abuse by single or sequential abusers. The one exception to this had been witness to a paedophiliac assault on his friend. Not all of the abusers had been adults; in some cases, an older child was involved. There is no sense in which the paedophiles themselves were anything other 

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than sexually aware as children. Some of them described how they believed children to be sexually knowledgeable, just as they themselves were made to be as children. The rates of sexual abuse reported by our group of offenders are far greater than any survey has suggested (e.g. Risin and Koss, 1987), especially for males and particularly when peer abuse is included. Of course, it is difficult to make precise comparisons between surveys of the general population and a selected sample of offenders. The early sexualization of offenders might go some way to explaining Condron and Nutter's (1988) finding that masturbation began younger in offenders than in controls. 

All of this is of considerable importance when it comes to assessing the impact of pornography on the genesis of offending. In none of the case studies in our research can be found instances of individuals who had experience of pornography of any sort prior to their early sexualization through abuse. In those cases where there was some childhood experience of pornography, this was either contemporaneous with the abuse or occurred later. 

As such, there is no evidence that early exposure to pornography was a cause of later offending. Indeed, in the cases reported here, there is a continuity between abuse in childhood and adult offending. Early experience of abuse leads to peer abuse, which leads to adult abuse of children.

In many of the cases, first exposure to pornography appears to occur after their paedophiliac careers had started, and in relatively few cases was child pornography involved. For example, Adrian was the only offender who reported extensive use of child pornography rather than making it. This he first saw at 16 years of age, by which time his sexual career was several years long following his initial abuse and sexual involvement with peers. Quite clearly, whatever the role of pornography in his adult life, the structure of his sexual career had already been laid down by his earliest experiences. 

It is unfortunate that there exists no comparative data on the use of pornography in British general population samples (Howitt and Cumberbatch, 1990), especially that which is broken down into categories of content. 

Nevertheless, it seems likely that for many offenders their experience of pornography is similar to that of adult males in general. Most of this experience is with soft-core men's magazines or sex videos. Experience of child pornography was exceptional. This is not to say that the paedophiles did not find pictures of children arousing -- many of them quite evidently did -- but hat pornography was for most of them not a prime source of arousal 

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of paedophiliac fantasies. 

(There were examples of men who claim to be able to cognitively manipulate adult heterosexual pornography to generate paedophiliac themes, but this is in the mind of the beholder rather than in the material itself.) 

The generation of paedophiliac fantasy from non-pornographic sources may well be a special
characteristic of the paedophile. Of course, we have no comparative data on this either and it is difficult to see how such data could be reliably collected. That a proportion of paedophiles seek to stimulate heir sexual fantasy about children but do not turn to child pornography for this may reflect much about the strength of their erotic attachment to children.

Another issue is whether pornography has a role in heightening sexual arousal prior to offending. This is a viewpoint that has some support in the literature on rapists (Marshall, 1988).

In our sample's accounts, there were many descriptions of how the sexual interest of the offender was aroused by a particular child or type of child. Often this led to fantasy about the child and eventually to the offence. None of our sample reported using pornography in a similar sort of way. Their lack of interest in child pornography in general may explain this. The reasons for the lack of interest in child pornography may be intimately tied to the nature of paedophiliac offending by these men.

The offending process was rarely, if ever, described in terms other than "grooming". Children involved in these crimes had been often targeted because they possessed characteristics that were sexually arousing to the offenders. "Grooming" is often portrayed as a discriminating process by the men. It is not as if the sexual drive is triggered by factors external to the victim, then satisfied by the abuse. In these circumstances, pornography might not contribute to offending. 

Furthermore, much paedophiliac sexual offending involves acts that do not require sexual arousal for their execution, and penetrative sex is not typical of the offences. Thus the offence itself may provide imagery for later masturbation. Conceived in this way, the offence does not what pornography is thought to do by some -- that is provide sexual arousal. 

The implications of these findings for legislation concerning pornography have to be tempered by the limited range of offenders included in the present study, and by other factors. We have noted that most paedophiles seem not to be attracted by child pornography. Given that the possession of such material is currently subject to legal penalties, there is a hefty deterrent to its distribution. Some of the offenders expressed concern about being found in possession of

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materials involving children. There is an implication that the Illegality of child pornography may serve as a deterrent against seeking the material. 

Paedophiliac fantasy is unlikely to be effectively controlled by the exclusion of pornography. The legal alternative sources of fantasy seem to dominate in the lives of most offenders, and it is difficult to conceive of legislation that could effectively limit the visual materials that paedophiles process into paedophiliac fantasy. 

None of this is to suggest that explicit child pornography is acceptable; Tate (1992) argues that the phrase "child pornography" is actually misleading: 

"It is not pornography in any real sense: simply the evidence -- recorded on film or video tape -- of serious sexual assaults on young children." 
(Tate, 1992, p. 203) 

Given the illegality of child pornography throughout much of the Western world, the "commercial" aspects of the distribution of the material may be seen as a "cottage industry" -- individual paedophiles make pictures and films of themselves abusing children, which are then bought or swapped by other offenders: 

"In effect, legislation aimed at eliminating child pornography has merely eliminated the middle man, requiring paedophiles to deal directly with each other." 
(Tate, 1992, p. 208) 

Despite the shocking nature of some of the material found by the police and customs officers, in itself this is merely evidence that the material is available and of interest to at least some offenders. It does not mean that it either causes offending or even that it maintains molestation patterns. Indeed, it is not even established precisely who buys it. Nevertheless, there is clearly a proportion of offenders who spend a lot of time and money on accumulating it.

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