Viewing images of child sexual abuse is child sexual abuse.
We were horrified by the comments of Simon Bailey, Chief Constable of Norfolk police & the Association of Chief Police Officers' lead on child protection and abuse investigations in the Guardian this morning suggesting that men who look at images of children being sexually abused, raped and tortured were "not all were an immediate threat".
Men who view these images/videos, and it is almost exclusively men, are participating in child sexual abuse. Viewing images of children being sexually abused is a criminal offence BECAUSE it is actively harming children. Every single time someone looks at these images they are harming the child. Ten minutes googling survivors of child sexual abuse statements would make it clear that part of their trauma is knowing that these images are still available online and that men are being sexually aroused by their abuse. Suggesting that men who view these images are "not an immediate threat" is both callous and wrong. These are not "low risk' offenders. They are committing child sexual abuse, rape and torture
Bailey goes on to say:
“What academic research would say is between 16% and 50% of those people who have viewed indecent images of children are then likely to be ‘contact abusers’ [of children]. That can be as high as 25,000 or as low as 8,000. [This group] poses a threat,” he said. However, the remaining group of child sex offenders – who are committing a crime by viewing the material online – are “non-contact abusers” who Bailey says do not “need to come into the criminal justice system in terms of being put forward before a court”.
He added: “We have to think about an alternative solution. [We] need to engage with service providers from mental health and the health service to work with us to say these people need help.”
Conflating men who have a clinical diagnosis of paedophilia with men who commit child sexual abuse and exploitation is a way of minimising men, and it is almost always men, responsibility for actively harming children: whether this be through "contact abuse" or "non-contact abuse". This is why we use the term child rapist to make it clear that those who choose to commit child sexual abuse, exploitation, rape and torture make a choice to do so - even those who have a clinical diagnosis of paedophilia make a choice to commit the abuse. Having a clinical diagnosis is not a get-out-of-jail free card. They still make a choice.
Men who look at these images or videos online PAY to do so fueling an industry which is based on the sexual exploitation and torture of children. No one "accidentally stumbles" on images of child sexual abuse, rape and torture. They have to search for these images and, then, they pay for them. This is without getting into the issue of "pay-per-view" child sexual abuse where men pay to watch another man torture a child live.
Images of children being sexually abused, tortured and raped are a growth industry because men PAY to see these images and videos. They look at the images knowing the children are being abused. They look at them because they don't care. They believe they are entitled to watch these images of children being tortured - some as young as a day old.
These men need to be held criminally liable for participating in the sexual exploitation, rape and torture of children.
It's incredibly frighting that the ACPO lead on child protection and abuse investigations doesn't get this - that he confuses paedophilia, a psychological condition which very few have, with the vast majority of perpetrators who CHOOSE to sexually abuse children. And, that Bailey doesn't understand that those who are clinically diagnosed as paedophiles are still making a choice.
We suggest that ACPO sign up Bailey and all of their members for some proper training on child sexual exploitation from an organisation who understand that viewing images of children being sexually abused, raped and tortured is a crime. That these men are financially supporting an industry which is based entirely on the rape, sexual abuse and torture of children.