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NZ: Teens top viewers of child pornography

Publish Date: 14 Jan 2005

Source: The New Zealand Herald

Teens top viewers of child porn

Teenagers are the biggest viewers of child pornography, with a study warning of stronger evidence that offenders who download the material may be more likely to commit sex crimes against young people.

Nearly half of the 185 convicted porn users profiled in an Internal Affairs study had regular access to children, and those caught included teachers and caregivers. The youngest offender was 14.

Young people aged 15 to 20 were the single biggest demographic group, accounting for one-quarter of all child porn users tracked and caught by investigators. One-third of the 185 criminals gave their occupations as students, of which 60 per cent were studying at tertiary level.

The study warns that students and IT professionals have both greater access to computers and possess "more advanced computer skills", which could be used to mask their offending.

The study's findings follow warnings from Customs that last year saw a "massive growth" in the number and seriousness of horrific child porn intercepted by officials.

Internal Affairs assessed the backgrounds of the 185 criminals in an attempt to identify offenders and their habits. The study notes concerns at the young age of offenders and the relationship between viewing child porn and sexual offending.

"The department is concerned at the number of offenders who have placed themselves in situations where they have access to the subjects of the objectionable material they collect," it says. "This type of behaviour appears common among those with a sexual interest in children."

Internal Affairs senior policy analyst David Wilson said the study's findings suggested an "association" between viewing child porn and offending against children.

Of the 185 offenders, 30 had previous convictions, including 16 for sex offences. More than 40 per cent of them were having regular contact with children or young people.

Internet Safety Group director Liz Butterfield said some teens viewing and trading child porn had been lured via the internet by adults "grooming them" with the material.

It was imperative that anyone caught with child porn undergo sex offender treatment at an approved centre.

"When we've caught these people then there's the chance to intervene effectively and it's essential that sex offender treatment is provided, for all ages but especially for the younger ones," she said.


Copyright © 2005, APN Holdings NZ Ltd


New Zealand: Too few child porn offenders jailed - lobby group

January 19, 2005

Most offenders convicted last year of possessing or trading child sex abuse images received a "mere slap on the wrist", a leading child sex abuse lobby group said yesterday.

Stop Demand Foundation spokesperson Denise Ritchie said figures released yesterday by the Department of Internal Affairs' Censorship Compliance Unit showed seven out of 24 offenders went to jail in 2004.

"Conversely, this means that 17 out of 24 offenders, or 70 per cent, received a mere slap on the wrist for offending that contributes directly to sexual crimes against children.

"That 70 per cent of offenders last year received fines or community work is a grave injustice, and insulting, to the thousands of child victims who were raped and abused in the making of those images."

"All 24 offenders should have faced stiff prison sentences."

The department said yesterday major progress had been made in the past year against a new method of trading pictures and movies of children.

Keith Manch, director of the department's Gaming and Censorship Regulation Group, said offenders internationally have been increasingly using what are called "peer-to-peer applications" because they falsely believed they could avoid being detected.

Peer-to-peer applications allow a person to set up their computer to share selected files. Other people with the same software can search for those sorts of files and can download them to their own computer.

"In 2003 we set an important precedent. We showed that New Zealand censorship law does cover this new technology and, for the first time, a New Zealander was convicted for using it to distribute child sex abuse images," he said.

In 2003, two out of 26 convictions involved the use of peer-to-peer applications.

"Last year the number of (peer-to-peer) convictions rose to eight out of 24.

"In the last few months 19 of the 25 new cases we referred to Crown Law for prosecution involved peer-to-peer applications. In addition, we are investigating more peer-to-peer cases," he said.

"Offenders will not get a break. If they continue to distribute or collect child sex abuse images, using whatever technology, then they will eventually be caught."

The department's position is that if a person sets up a computer to share files that are child sex abuse images, then they are responsible for the trading that eventually occurs from that computer.

While very few of the images found over the years have been of New Zealand children, research into offenders here and overseas has shown a statistical correlation between offenders who collect and distribute child sex abuse images and other offending against children.

The Government has introduced to Parliament proposed amendments to the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act that would increase the maximum penalty for distributing child sex abuse images to up to 10 years' jail, and up to two years in jail for possession.

The amendment bill is before the Government Administration Select Committee.

Ms Ritchie, who has appeared before three select committees on this issue said the Government was procrastinating .

"Judges are hamstrung in the penalties they can impose on offenders.

"The Government recognises that current laws are woefully inadequate and that existing penalties fail to take account of the nature, gravity and volume of offending that has come about with modern technology.

"Yet, despite introducing a bill last March, its passage continues to take a back seat while seemingly more important bills take priority."

- NZPA,1478,3160358a11,00.html

© Fairfax New Zealand Limited 2005