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These activities appear to reflect the sexual fantasies of the offenders and likely fuel those same fantasies by providing experiences and images for future occasions.Briggs, Simon, and Simonsen (2011) suggest that this fantasy-driven group is not interested in or likely to commit contact sexual offenses against children.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.An important research question is the extent to which Internet sex offenders represent a new type of sex offender, or whether they reflect the transformation of conventional sexual offending through the adoption of new technologies (Seto & Hanson, 2011).Whatever the explanations for this increasing demand, it is clear that the number of potential Internet offending investigations already greatly exceeds law enforcement resources. Many law enforcement agencies are still dealing with a backlog of cases arising from Operation Avalanche (an investigation that began after the discovery of Landslide Productions in Texas and its large database of members purchasing access to child pornography Web sites) and other, more recent international police operations that have identified very large numbers of online offending suspects.
Thus, pedophilic individuals will tend to seek out content depicting young children, while nonpedophilic individuals who are involved with child pornography will tend to seek out content depicting underage adolescents.
Many child pornography sites are based outside the United States (e.g., Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia), where laws differ substantially.
The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (2010) reviewed laws in 196 countries and found that almost half (89 countries) did not have specific child pornography laws.
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).