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The relationship between child pornography offending and pedophilia is sufficiently robust that child pornography use has been included as specific behavioral evidence in the proposed revision of the psychiatric diagnostic criteria for pedophilia, defined clinically as "persistent sexual attraction to prepubescent children" (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Seto, 2010).
However, pedophilia is not the sole motivation for Internet offending involving children; that is, not all child pornography offenders show a sexual preference for children over adults.
Briggs, Simon, and Simonsen (2011) identified 30 offenders who were considered to be contact driven and 21 who were deemed to be fantasy driven.This has been demonstrated in a recent study showing that the majority of Canadian child pornography offenders assessed at a sexual behavior clinic showed more sexual arousal (assessed through penile plethysmography responses in the laboratory) to children than to adults, and in fact show a stronger relative response than do offenders with contact victims (Seto, Cantor, & Blanchard, 2006).As well, one-third to one-half of child pornography offenders interviewed by police or by clinicians admitted they were sexually interested in children or in child pornography content (e.g., Seto, Reeves, & Jung, 2010).The offenders in Seto, Reeves, and Jung (2010) gave other explanations for their child pornography offending, including indiscriminate sexual interests, an "addiction" to pornography, and curiosity (see also Merdian et al., 2013).These explanations are based on self-report alone and should be interpreted cautiously because offenders may have offered alternative explanations (other than pedophilia) for their crimes in response to the stigma associated with the pedophilia label.
Average sentences are getting longer for comparable child pornography offenses, indicating that Internet offenders will occupy custodial beds longer and will require longer terms of supervision if they become eligible for probation/parole (Wolak, Finkelhor, & Mitchell, 2009).