The production and distribution of pornographic materials exploiting children have always belonged to the most immoral crimes. Presently, the spread of this illegal activity is promoted by the growth of technologies and the Internet with the help of which criminals can spread their materials easier and faster. It is noted that child exploitation material (CEM) can have a considerable impact on young people (Prichard, Spiranovic, Watters, & Lueg, 2013). The distribution of CEM may occur through a variety of means, including USENET groups, e-mails, P2P networks, and Internet relay chats (Prichard et al., 2013).
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According to research, CEM can have negative effects on young people and children that are photographed or filmed. There is a possibility of physical harm as a result of tortures or sexual acts (Prichard et al., 2013). Additionally, child sexual abuse is related to numerous adverse long-term psychological effects such as depression, eating and anxiety disorders, suicidality, and posttraumatic stress disorder (Prichard et al., 2013). The negative impact is later aggravated by the distribution of photographs and films.
Research results about children that are accidentally exposed to the online sexual content also indicate the adverse effects of CEM. According to the study performed by Hasebrink, Görzig, Haddon, Kalmus, and Livingstone in 2011, 14% out of 25,000 9-16year-old children have been exposed to child pornography on the Internet (Prichard et al., 2013). 25% of these young people have reported being bothered or upset by such content. It is noted than girls and younger children are more likely to be affected by CEM. At the same time, Prichard et al. (2013) remark that many children watch pornography deliberately, either of curiosity or for some other reasons.
Prichard, J., Spiranovic, C., Watters, P., & Lueg, C. (2013). Young people, child pornography, and subcultural norms on the Internet. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 64(5), 992-1000.