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Study: Making Pornography More Accessible May Curb Child Abuse

Whether pornography is an expression of free speech or a form of exploitation remains a hotly debated issue, and new research may only stir up the controversy further.

Scientists led by Milton Diamond at the University of Hawaii found that easing access to sexually explicit material may help lower sexual abuse of youngsters. Diamond's group compared rates of various crimes, including sexual abuse, murders, assaults and thefts, both before and after the fall of the communist regime in the Czech republic. Before a more liberal government gained power in the country in 1989, all forms of sexually explicit material, including magazines such as Playboy, were banned, and all nudity was considered pornographic.

The new government, however, passed a law allowing some expressions of nudity, including child porn, and when Diamond and his group compared rates of child sexual abuse both before and after the communist regime was in power, they found that there were fewer cases of abuse after pornography became more accessible.

The data support previous work that found similar trends when pornography laws were relaxed in Japan and Denmark. Coupled with the fact that rates of other crimes did not change in the same time period in the Czech Republic, Diamond speculates that the reason for the decline in child sexual abuse could be due to the fact that potential offenders were able to substitute child pornography for sexual acts themselves.

But not all child abuse experts buy that theory, and take issue with the idea that child pornography, in any form, could be considered an antidote to sexual abuse. “The study and its findings are provocative,” says Dr. Cindy Christian, chair of the Committee for Child Abuse and Neglect for the American Academy of Pediatrics and chair of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, “but as a pediatrician I would never condone any child pornography even in order to protect other children from child sexual abuse. Nothing in my experience or my education, in my professional opinion, could ever condone child pornography. It's never okay to sexually abuse a child, and child pornography is a form of sexual abuse.”

Christian notes that the authors' theory about sexually explicit materials serving as a substitute for sexual crimes needs further study, and points out that despite the rather liberal availability of pornography in the U.S., this country still has a significant problem with sex crimes against children. In addition, such a theory tends to favor the adult perspective on child pornography. “These children are victims, even if somebody is just photographing them in provocative and naked ways,” she says. “As a pediatrician, I know what kind of violation that is to the child, and that is not condonable in my world.”

The results are likely to generate discussion, if not agreement, over what forces drive sex crimes, and in particular sexual acts against children, and open the possibility for considering some provocative, although perhaps less comforting ideas about addressing the problem.

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interesting theory there are so many ways this could go and could be a good idea but could lead to it becoming acceptable in the media and harming childrens minds but in the end those who harm the innocent do have something seriously wrong them which required more research
Yea I agree
It's interesting to draw parallels with anything that is "taboo" or deemed unlawful/illegal because you can always see the same thing: more people gravitate towards things deemed "off limits" and that may be one of the reasons as to why child abuse goes down when people have access to porn. As in everything, the Golden Rule can be put in place here in that if an activity (viewing porn) harms no one, then it does not negatively affect anyone and does not stream more negative energy into the collective consciousness. There are those who would never even entertain the thought of doing what some countries are doing or have done in the past to combat abuse, be it child or any other, because they do not wish to open their awareness to alternative solutions to problems that are here simply because of this close-minded mentality. As Einstein said, doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Sure, we may not agree with, or find it particularly pleasant, what solutions actually work, but if they are effective and they harm no one it seems to be insanity not to implement such solutions into action.
very true as adults we should all have access to porn from those who choose to provide it. It all comes down to choice instead of demonizing it. Something should be done since most human still function at an animalistic level ie "gravitate towards things deemed "off limits' for it is a very primitive behavior, maybe some acceptance and education will help.

But then the issue of giving freedoms to primitive people who take things too far and abuse it or try and scam a way to justify more abuse. For example look at marijuana, we all know it is safe and good for you for the average stable person but give it to someone who is messed up in the head and is morally a bad person when they do the drug they do horrific things or cant control themselves.

Yeah its a very complex issue :S but personally i agree with you
Yes, it's certainly not a simple issue but given that the current methods of dealing with the situation are not working well, we can at the very least, make a list of what does not work (incarceration instead of treatment for instance)
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