Karen Franklin, Ph.D.

Karen Franklin Ph.D.

Witness

Child Porn Redux

Untangling the rhetorical threads

Posted Jun 11, 2017

Given the current explosion of online pornography, I’m happy to see an upswing in scholarly research and debate on its social and psychological effects. It is a sensitive topic that can cause discomfort and misunderstanding. As psychologists, it is our job to avoid muddying the waters. To that end, I note two mischaracterizations by fellow Psychology Today blogger David Ley in his response to my recent post.

First and foremost, the topic of my post is not ALL pornography users. As a forensic psychologist, my post was prompted by a phenomenon that we in the forensic trenches are witnessing among a certain subset of heavy users. These are men (I have not encountered any such cases involving women) whose online escapism escalates to the point of causing dramatic and severe negative consequences in their lives. My post was an effort to share a growing body of research aimed at understanding this emergent phenomenon.

Second, I did not claim that pornography causes pedophilia. That mischaracterization is a straw man. My post discusses very heavy porn users who “fall down the rabbit hole” and download porn frenetically, such that their ultimate collections may include images and/or videos of children, bestiality and all manner of fetishes in addition to more vanilla adult porn. I distinguish between these scattershot downloaders and pedophilic collectors who acquire a preponderance of child material, often well organized, thereby demonstrating a clear preference for children.

I would encourage readers interested in learning more about this topic to explore the primary research, some of which can be found in the links embedded in my original post. For those who haven’t seen it, I’d also like to recommend Downloading a Nightmare, a new investigation by the award-winning Marshall Project concerning the collision in the courts between autism and child pornography.

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