Child pornography
Child pornography refers to images or films (also known as child abuse images) and, in some cases, writings depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child
Biologically, a child is generally a human between the stages of birth and puberty. Some vernacular definitions of a child include the fetus, as being an unborn child. The legal definition of "child" generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority...

. Abuse of the child occurs during the sexual acts which are recorded in the production of child pornography, and several professors of psychology state that memories of the abuse are maintained as long as visual records exist, are accessed, and are "exploited perversely."

Ninety-four of 187 Interpol
Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

 member states had laws specifically addressing child pornography as of 2008, though this does not include nations that ban all pornography. Of those 94 countries, 58 criminalized possession of child pornography regardless of intent to distribute. Both distribution and possession are now criminal offenses in almost all Western countries. A wide movement is working to globalize the criminalization of child pornography, including major international organisations such as the United Nations and the European Commission.

Legal definitions of child pornography generally include sexual images involving prepubescents and pubescent or post-pubescent minors and computer-generated images that appear to involve them. Most possessors of child pornography who are arrested are found to possess images of prepubescent children; possessors of pornographic images of post-pubescent minors are less likely to be prosecuted, even though those images also fall within the statutes.

Child pornography is among the fastest growing criminal segments on the Internet. Producers of child pornography try to avoid prosecution by distributing their material across national borders, though this issue is increasingly being addressed with regular arrests of suspects from a number of countries occurring over the last few years. The prepubescent pornography is viewed and collected by pedophiles
As a medical diagnosis, pedophilia is defined as a psychiatric disorder in adults or late adolescents typically characterized by a primary or exclusive sexual interest in prepubescent children...

 for a variety of purposes, ranging from private sexual uses, trading with other pedophiles, preparing children for sexual abuse as part of the process known as "child grooming
Child grooming
Child grooming refers to actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, in order to lower the child's inhibitions in preparation for sexual activity with the child, or exploitation .Child grooming may be used to lure minors into...

", or enticement leading to entrapment for sexual exploitation such as production of new child pornography or child prostitution. Child pornography is illegal and censored
thumb|[[Book burning]] following the [[1973 Chilean coup d'état|1973 coup]] that installed the [[Military government of Chile |Pinochet regime]] in Chile...

 in most jurisdictions in the world.


Recently, the term "child abuse images" has been increasingly adopted by both scholars and law enforcement personnel because the term "pornography" can carry the inaccurate implication of consent (or even harlotry) and create distance from the abusive nature of the material. Similar terms such as "child abuse material", "child sexual abuse material", "documented child sexual abuse", and "depicted child sexual abuse" are also used, as are the acronyms CAM and CAI. The term "child pornography" retains its legal definitions in various jurisdictions, along with related terms such as "indecent photographs of a child" and others . In 2008, the World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents stated in their formally adopted pact that "Increasingly the term 'child abuse images' is being used to refer to the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in pornography. This is to reflect the seriousness of the phenomenon and to emphasize that pornographic images of children are in fact records of a crime being committed."

Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

 and policing institutions of various governments, including among others the United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

, enforce internationally. Since 1999, the Interpol Standing Working Group on Offenses Against Minors has used the following definition:
Child pornography is the consequence of the exploitation or sexual abuse perpetrated against a child. It can be defined as any means of depicting or promoting sexual abuse of a child, including print and/or audio, centered on sex acts or the genital organs of children.

Child sexual abuse in production and distribution

Children of all ages, including infants, are abused in the production of pornography. The United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 estimates that pornographers have recorded the abuse of more than one million children in the United States alone. There is an increasing trend towards younger victims and greater brutality; according to Flint Waters, an investigator with the federal Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, "These guys are raping infants and toddlers. You can hear the child crying, pleading for help in the video. It is horrendous." According to the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, "While impossible to obtain accurate data, a perusal of the child pornography readily available on the international market indicates that a significant number of children are being sexually exploited through this medium."

The United Kingdom children's charity NCH
Action for Children is a national children’s charity in the United Kingdom that supports and speaks out for the most vulnerable and neglected children, young people, families and their communities....

 has stated that demand for child pornography on the internet has led to an increase in sex abuse cases, due to an increase in the number of children abused in the production process.
In a study analyzing men arrested for child pornography possession in the United States over a one year period from 2000 to 2001, most had pornographic images of prepubescent children (83%) and images graphically depicting sexual penetration (80%). Approximately 1 in 5 (21%) had images depicting violence such as bondage, rape, or torture and most of those involved images of children who were gagged, bound, blindfolded, or otherwise enduring sadistic sex. More than 1 in 3 (39%) had child-pornography videos with motion and sound. 79% also had what might be termed softcore
Softcore pornography is a form of filmic or photographic pornography or erotica that is less sexually explicit than hardcore pornography. It is intended to tickle and arouse men and women. Softcore pornography depicts nude and semi-nude performers engaging in casual social nudity or non-graphic...

 images of nude or semi-nude children, but only 1% possessed such images alone. Law enforcement found about half (48%) had more than 100 graphic still images, and 14% had 1,000 or more graphic images. Forty percent (40%) were "dual offenders," who sexually victimized children and possessed child pornography.

A recent study in Ireland, undertaken by the Garda Síochána
Garda Síochána
, more commonly referred to as the Gardaí , is the police force of Ireland. The service is headed by the Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. Its headquarters are located in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.- Terminology :...

, revealed the most serious content in a sample of over 100 cases involving indecent images of children. In 44% of cases, the most serious images depicted nudity or erotic posing, in 7% they depicted sexual activity between children, in 7% they depicted non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children, in 37% they depicted penetrative sexual activity between adults and children, and in 5% they depicted sadism or bestiality.

Masha Allen, who was adopted at age 8 from the former Soviet Union by an American man who sexually abused her for five years and posted the pictures on the Internet testified before the United States Congress about the anguish she has suffered at the continuing circulation of the pictures of her abuse, to "put a face" on a "sad, abstract, and faceless statistic," and to help pass a law named for her. "Masha's Law," included in the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act
Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act
The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act is a federal statute that was signed into law by U.S. President George W. Bush on July 27, 2006. The Walsh Act organizes sex offenders into three tiers and mandates that Tier 3 offenders update their whereabouts every three months with lifetime...

 passed in 2006, includes a provision which allows young people 18 and over to sue in civil court those who download pornographic images taken of them when they were children. "Downloading" includes viewing without actual download; many successful prosecutions are completed through using residual images left on the viewer's computer.

Relation to child molestation and abuse

Experts differ over any causal link, with some experts saying that use of child porn reduces the risk of offending, and others arguing that it increases the risk. A 2008 American review of the use of Internet communication to lure children outlines the possible links to actual behaviour regarding the effects of Internet child pornography.

According to the Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit medical practice and medical research group specializing in treating difficult patients . Patients are referred to Mayo Clinic from across the U.S. and the world, and it is known for innovative and effective treatments. Mayo Clinic is known for being at the top of...

 of the U.S.A., studies and case reports indicate that 30% to 80% of individuals who viewed child pornography and 76% of individuals who were arrested for Internet child pornography had molested a child, however they note that it is difficult to know how many people progress from computerized child pornography to physical acts against children and how many would have progressed to physical acts without the computer being involved.


In the late 1990s, the COPINE project ("Combating Paedophile Information Networks in Europe") at University College Cork, in cooperation with the Paedophile Unit
Paedophile Unit
The Paedophile Unit is a branch of the British London Metropolitan Police Service's Child Abuse Investigation Command, based at Scotland Yard. It deals with organised crime and the manufacture and distribution of child pornography...

 of the London Metropolitan Police, developed a typology to categorize child abuse images for use in both research and law enforcement. The ten-level typology was based on analysis of images available on websites and internet newsgroups.
Other researchers have adopted similar ten-level scales. In 2002 in the UK, the Sentencing Advisory Panel adapted the COPINE scale to five levels and recommended its adoption for sentencing guidelines, omitting levels 1 to 3 and recommending that levels 4 to 6 combine as sentencing level 1 and that the four levels from 7 to 10 each form an individual severity level, for a total of 5 sentencing stages.
The COPINE Scale
1 Indicative Non-erotic and non-sexualised pictures showing children in their underwear, swimming costumes from either commercial sources or family albums. Pictures of children playing in normal settings, in which the context or organisation of pictures by the collector indicates inappropriateness.
2 Nudist Pictures of naked or semi-naked children in appropriate nudist settings, and from legitimate sources.
3 Erotica Surreptitiously taken photographs of children in play areas or other safe environments showing either underwear or varying degrees of nakedness.
4 Posing Deliberately posed pictures of children fully clothed, partially clothed or naked (where the amount, context and organization suggests sexual interest).
5 Erotic Posing Deliberately posed pictures of fully, partially clothed or naked children in sexualised or provocative poses.
6 Explicit Erotic Posing Pictures emphasising genital areas, where the child is either naked, partially clothed or fully clothed.
7 Explicit Sexual Activity Pictures that depict touching, mutual and self-masturbation, oral sex and intercourse by a child, not involving an adult.
8 Assault Pictures of children being subject to a sexual assault, involving digital touching, involving an adult.
9 Gross Assault Grossly obscene pictures of sexual assault, involving penetrative sex, masturbation or oral sex, involving an adult.
10 Sadistic/Bestiality a. Pictures showing a child being tied, bound, beaten, whipped or otherwise subject to something that implies pain.

b. Pictures where an animal is involved in some form of sexual behaviour with a child.

Internet proliferation

Philip Jenkins
Philip Jenkins
Philip Jenkins is as of 2010 the Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Humanities at Pennsylvania State University . He was Professor and a Distinguished Professor of History and Religious studies at the same institution; and also assistant, associate and then full professor of Criminal Justice and...

 notes that there is "overwhelming evidence that [child pornography] is all but impossible to obtain through nonelectronic means." The Internet has radically changed how child pornography is reproduced and disseminated, and, according to the United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

, resulted in a massive increase in the "availability, accessibility, and volume of child pornography." The production of child pornography has become very profitable and is no longer limited to paedophiles.

Digital cameras and Internet distribution facilitated by the use of credit cards and the ease of transferring images across national borders has made it easier than ever before for users of child pornography to obtain the photographs and videos. The NCMEC estimated in 2003 that 20% of all pornography traded over the Internet was child pornography, and that since 1997 the number of child pornography images available on the Internet had increased by 1500%.

In 2007, the British-based Internet Watch Foundation
Internet Watch Foundation
The Internet Watch Foundation is a non-governmental charitable body based in the United Kingdom. It states that its remit is "to minimise the availability of 'potentially criminal' Internet content, specifically images of child sexual abuse hosted anywhere, and criminally obscene adult content in...

 reported that child pornography on the Internet is becoming more brutal and graphic, and the number of images depicting violent abuse has risen fourfold since 2003. The CEO stated "The worrying issue is the severity and the gravity of the images is increasing. We're talking about prepubescent children being raped." About 80 percent of the children in the abusive images are female, and 91 percent appear to be children under the age of 12. Prosecution is difficult because multiple international servers are used, sometimes to transmit the images in fragments to evade the law. Some child pornographers also circumvent detection by using virus
Computer virus
A computer virus is a computer program that can replicate itself and spread from one computer to another. The term "virus" is also commonly but erroneously used to refer to other types of malware, including but not limited to adware and spyware programs that do not have the reproductive ability...

es to illegally gain control of computers on which they remotely store child pornography. In one case, a Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 man was charged with possession of child pornography when hackers
Black hat
A black hat is the villain or bad guy, especially in a western movie in which such a character would stereotypically wear a black hat in contrast to the hero's white hat, especially in black and white movies....

 used his computer to access pornographic sites and store pornographic pictures without his knowledge. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has ruled that if a user downloads child pornography from a file sharing
File sharing
File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digitally stored information, such as computer programs, multimedia , documents, or electronic books. It may be implemented through a variety of ways...

 network and possesses it in his "shared folder" without configuring the software to not share that content, he can be charged with distributing child pornography.

Regarding internet proliferation, the U.S. Department of Justice states that "At any one time there are estimated to be more than one million pornographic images of children on the Internet, with 200 new images posted daily." They also note that a single offender arrested in the U.K. possessed 450,000 child pornography images, and that a single child pornography site received a million hits in a month. Further, that much of the trade in child pornography takes place at hidden levels of the Internet, and that it has been estimated that there are between 50,000 and 100,000 paedophiles involved in organised pornography rings around the world, and that one third of these operate from the United States.

In 2008 the Google search
Google search
Google or Google Web Search is a web search engine owned by Google Inc. Google Search is the most-used search engine on the World Wide Web, receiving several hundred million queries each day through its various services....

Web search engine
A web search engine is designed to search for information on the World Wide Web and FTP servers. The search results are generally presented in a list of results often referred to as SERPS, or "search engine results pages". The information may consist of web pages, images, information and other...

 adapted a software program in order to faster track child pornography accessible through their site. The software is based in a pattern recognition
Pattern recognition
In machine learning, pattern recognition is the assignment of some sort of output value to a given input value , according to some specific algorithm. An example of pattern recognition is classification, which attempts to assign each input value to one of a given set of classes...


Collection by pedophiles

Viewers of child pornography who are pedophiles are particularly obsessive about collecting, organizing, categorizing, and labeling their child pornography collection according to age, gender, sex act and fantasy. According to FBI agent Ken Lanning, "collecting" pornography does not mean that they merely view pornography, but that they save it, and "it comes to define, fuel, and validate their most cherished sexual fantasies." An extensive collection indicates a strong sexual preference for children, and if a collector of child pornography is also a pedophile, the owned collection is the single best indicator of what he or she wants to do. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children describes researchers Taylor and Quayle's analysis of pedophile pornography collecting:

"The obsessive nature of the collecting and the narrative or thematic links for collections, led to the building of social communities on the internet dedicated to extending these collections. Through these 'virtual communities' collectors are able to downgrade the content and abusive nature of the collections, see the children involved as objects rather than people, and their own behaviour as normal: It is an expression of 'love' for children rather than abuse."

These offenders are likely to employ elaborate security measures to avoid detection. The US DOJ notes that "there is a core of veteran offenders, some of whom have been active in pedophile newsgroups for more than 20 years, who possess high levels of technological expertise," also noting that pedophile bulletin boards often contain technical advice from child pornography users' old hands to newcomers."

Child sex tourism

One source of child pornography distributed worldwide is that created by sex tourists. Most of the victims of child sex tourism
Child sex tourism
Child sex tourism is tourism for the purpose of engaging in the prostitution of children, that is commercially-facilitated child sexual abuse...

 reside in the developing countries
Developing country
A developing country, also known as a less-developed country, is a nation with a low level of material well-being. Since no single definition of the term developing country is recognized internationally, the levels of development may vary widely within so-called developing countries...

 of the world. In 1996, a court in Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 convicted a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 national of child molestation and production of pornography for commercial purposes; he was involved in a child pornography ring which exploited Thai children. A sizable portion of the pornography seized in Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

 and in the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 in the 1990s was produced by sex tourists visiting Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

 works with its 188 member countries to combat the problem, and launched its first-ever successful global appeal for assistance in 2007 to identify a Canadian
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 man, Christopher Paul Neil
Christopher Paul Neil
Christopher Paul Neil , also known as Mr. Swirl, or Swirl Face, or Vico , is a convicted child molester currently serving a 39-month-sentence in Thailand...

, featured in a series of around 200 photographs in which he was shown sexually abusing young Vietnamese and Cambodian children.

Organised crime

Organised crime is involved in the production and distribution of child pornography, which is found as a common element of organised crime profiles. Organisation into groups to produce and distribute pornography, they are often called "sex rings." In 2003, an international police investigation uncovered a Germany-based child pornography ring involving 26,500 suspects who swapped illegal images on the Internet in 166 different countries. In a 2006 case, US and international authorities charged 27 people in nine states and three countries in connection with a child pornography ring that US federal authorities described as "one of the worst" they have discovered. The assistant secretary for Immigration and Customs Enforcement added that the case reflected three larger trends that are becoming more common in child pornography rings. One is the increasing prevalence of "home-grown" pornographic images that are produced by predators themselves, and include live streaming video images of children being abused, not just the circulation of repeated images. Another trend is the growing use of sophisticated security measures and of peer-to-peer networking, in which participants can share files with one another on their computers rather than downloading them from a web site. The group used encryption
In cryptography, encryption is the process of transforming information using an algorithm to make it unreadable to anyone except those possessing special knowledge, usually referred to as a key. The result of the process is encrypted information...

 and data destruction software to protect the files and screening measures to ensure only authorized participants could enter the chat room. A third trend is the increasingly violent and graphic nature of the images involving the abuse of younger children.

According to Jim Gamble
Jim Gamble
James "Jim" Gamble QPM is a senior British Police officer from Bangor in Northern Ireland. He is the former chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre , a police unit affiliated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency in the United Kingdom. He resigned in October 2010...

, CEO of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre , formed in April 2006, is a UK cross agency and cross business department of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which is tasked to work both nationally and internationally to bring online child sex offenders, including those involved in the...

, around 50 per cent of sites showing children being abused are operated on a pay-per-view basis. "The people involved in these sites often aren't doing it because they're deviant by nature. They're doing it because they're business people. It's risk versus profits. We need to reduce the profit motivation." The CEOPP was established in 2006, and targets the finances of organised criminal gangs selling images of child abuse.

International coordination of law enforcement

Recent investigations include Operation Cathedral that resulted in multi-national arrests and 7 convictions as well as uncovering 750,000 images with 1,200 unique identifiable faces being distributed over the web; Operation Amethyst
Operation Amethyst
Operation Amethyst was a Garda Síochána operation targeting child pornography in the Republic of Ireland. Involving simultaneous searches on May 25, 2002 of over a hundred individuals suspected of downloading child pornography, it was one of the largest police operations in Ireland's...

 which occurred in the Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

; Operation Auxin
Operation Auxin
Operation Auxin was an Australian police operation in September 2004, leading to the arrest of almost 200 people on charges of child pornography...

 which occurred in Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

; Operation Avalanche
Operation Avalanche (child pornography crackdown)
Operation Avalanche was a major US investigation of child pornography on the Internet launched in 1999 after the arrest and conviction of Thomas and Janice Reedy, who operated an Internet pornography business called Landslide Productions in Fort Worth, Texas It was made public in early August 2001...

; Operation Ore
Operation Ore
Operation Ore was a British police operation that commenced in 1999 following information received from US law enforcement, which was intended to prosecute thousands of users of a website reportedly featuring child pornography...

 based in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

; Operation Pin
Operation Pin
Operation Pin is an initiative of the Virtual Global Taskforce, which consists of UK's National Crime Squad, the FBI, Interpol, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Australian Hi-Tech Crime Centre / Australian Federal Police . Its stated aim is to identify pedophiles and other people who are...

; Operation Predator
Operation Predator
Operation Predator is an initiative started on July 9, 2003 by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement , a division of the Department of Homeland Security, to protect children from sexual predators....

; the 2004 Ukrainian child pornography raids
2004 Ukrainian child pornography raids
The 2004 Ukrainian child pornography raids occurred in July 2004, when police in Ukraine raided a softcore child pornography ring operating in the cities of Kiev, Kharkiv and Simferopol. The ring had operated since 2001, and used a modeling agency as a front. Approximately 1,500 girls aged from...

 and the 2008 US child pornography raid
2008 US child pornography raid
The 2008 child pornography raid occurred in February 2008, when authorities around the globe raided the homes of suspects in possession of child pornography in the U.S. states of Virginia, Florida, Oregon, Indiana, Texas, Connecticut, Washington, California, Idaho and North Carolina, as well as in...

. A three-year Europol
Europol is the European Union's criminal intelligence agency. It became fully operational on 1 July 1999....

 investigation, dubbed Operation Rescue, based on the activities of, a popular pedophile chat room, netted over 150 arrests and the rescue of 230 children in 2011. The principal of, Amir Ish-Hurwitz, was jailed March 17, 2011 in the Netherlands. Hundreds of additional suspects remain at large.

Even so, the UK based NSPCC
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is a United Kingdom charity campaigning and working in child protection.-History:...

 said that worldwide an estimated 2% of child pornography websites still had not been removed a year after being identified.

One of the primary mandates of the international policing organisation Interpol
Interpol, whose full name is the International Criminal Police Organization – INTERPOL, is an organization facilitating international police cooperation...

 is the prevention of crimes against children involving the crossing of international borders, including child pornography and all other forms of exploitation and trafficking of children.

The USA Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 coordinates programs to track and prosecute child pornography offenders across all jurisdictions, from local police departments to federal investigations, and international cooperation with other governments. Efforts by the Department to combat child pornography includes the National Child Victim Identification Program
National Child Victim Identification Program
The National Child Victim Identification Program is the world's largest database of child pornography, maintained by the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the United States Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for the purpose of identifying...

, the world's largest database of child pornography, maintained by the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section
Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section
The Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section is a section of the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice in charge of protecting the welfare of America's children and communities by enforcing federal criminal statutes relating to the exploitation of children and obscenity...

 of the United States Department of Justice
United States Department of Justice
The United States Department of Justice , is the United States federal executive department responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries.The Department is led by the Attorney General, who is nominated...

 and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is a private, non-profit organization established in 1984 by the United States Congress.-Establishment and overview:...

 (NCMEC) for the purpose of identifying victims of child abuse. Police agencies have deployed trained staff to track child pornography files and the computers used to share them as they are distributed on the Internet, and they freely share identifying information for the computers and users internationally.

In Europe the CIRCAMP
CIRCAMP is an abbreviation for Cospol Internet Related Child Abusive Material Project. CIRCAMP is one of many projects aimed at combating borderless or multinational crime in Europe...

 Law Enforcement project is aimed at reducing the availability of abusive material on the Web, combining traditional police investigative methods and Police/Internet industry cooperation by blocking access to domains containing such files. The result is country specific lists according to national legislation in the participating countries. This police initiative has a world wide scope in its work but is partly financed by the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....


When child pornography is distributed across international borders, customs agencies also participate in investigations and enforcement, such as in the 2001-2002 cooperative effort between the United States Customs Service and local operational law enforcement agencies in Russia. A search warrant issued in the USA by the Customs Service resulted in seizing of computers and email records by the Russian authorities, and arrests of the pornographers.

In spite of international cooperation, less than 1 percent of children who appear in child pornography are located by law enforcement each year, according to Interpol statistics.

Google announced in 2008 that it is working with NCMEC to help automate and streamline how child protection workers sift through millions of pornographic images to identify victims of abuse. Google has developed video fingerprinting technology and software to automate the review of some 13 million pornographic images and videos that analysts at the center previously had to review manually.

The FBI has begun posting hyperlink
In computing, a hyperlink is a reference to data that the reader can directly follow, or that is followed automatically. A hyperlink points to a whole document or to a specific element within a document. Hypertext is text with hyperlinks...

s on the Internet that purport to be illegal videos of minors having sex, and then raiding the homes of anyone willing to click on them.

National and international law

Child pornography laws provide severe penalties for producers and distributors in almost all Western societies, usually including incarceration, with shorter duration of sentences for non-commercial distribution depending on the extent and content of the material distributed. Convictions for possessing child pornography also usually include prison sentences, but those sentences are often converted to probation for first-time offenders.

A 2008 review of child pornography laws in 187 countries by the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children is a global service agency working against child exploitation and abduction.The group works with Interpol, law enforcement, and elected officials worldwide to combat child pornography and abduction.ICMEC was founded in 1998 by the USA...

 (ICMEC) shows that 93 have no laws that specifically address child pornography. Of the 94 that do, 36 do not criminalize possession of child pornography regardless of intent to distribute. This review, however, did not count legislation outlawing all pornography as being "specific" to child pornography. It also did not count bans on "the worst forms of child labor." Some societies such as Canada and Australia have laws banning cartoon, manga or written child pornography and others require ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to monitor internet traffic to detect it.

The United Nations Optional Protocol on the Rights of the Child requires states to outlaw the "producing, distributing, disseminating, importing, exporting, offering, selling or possessing for the above purposes" of child pornography. The Council of Europe's Cybercrime Convention and the EU Framework Decision that became active in 2006 require signatory or member states to criminalize all aspects of child pornography. Article 34 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) stated that all signatories shall take appropriate measures to prevent the exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.

Artificially generated or simulated imagery

Simulated child pornography produced without the direct involvement of children in the production process itself includes modified photographs of real children, non-minor teenagers made to look younger (age regression), and fully computer-generated imagery or adults made to look like children. Drawings or animations that depict sexual acts involving children but are not intended to look like photographs may also be considered by some to be child pornography.


Sexting is the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photographs, primarily between mobile phones. The term was first popularized in early 21st century, and is a portmanteau of sex and texting, where the latter is meant in the wide sense of sending a text possibly with...

 refers to a recently increasing practice in which people use cell phone messaging to send nude or semi-nude images of themselves to others (such as friends or dating partners). These may be passed along to others or be posted on the Internet. Due to sexting by minors, some teenagers have been charged with possessing and/or distributing child pornography, potentially controversial uses of existing child pornography laws. For example, Florida cyber crimes defense attorney David S. Seltzer wrote of this that "I do not believe that our child pornography laws were designed for these situations. [...] A conviction for possession of child pornography in Florida draws up to five years in prison for each picture or video, plus a lifelong requirement to register as a sex offender." In 2009, the Vermont legislature considered legalizing the consensual exchange of graphic images between two people 13 to 18 years old.


There have been controversies when government officials in the West acquired child pornography. For instance, some workers in the Pentagon
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

 had downloaded child pornography that caused administrative issues. However, the Pentagon declined to investigate this incident.

See also

  • Child erotica
    CIRCAMP is an abbreviation for Cospol Internet Related Child Abusive Material Project. CIRCAMP is one of many projects aimed at combating borderless or multinational crime in Europe...

  • Commercial sexual exploitation of children
    Commercial sexual exploitation of children
    Commercial sexual exploitation of children constitutes a form of coercion and violence against children and amounts to forced labour and a contemporary form of slavery....

  • Debate regarding child pornography laws
    Debate regarding child pornography laws
    While laws criminalizing child sexual abuse now exist in all countries of the world, more diversity of views exists on questions like exactly how young those depicted in pornography should be allowed to be, whether the mere possession of child pornography should be a crime, or whether sentences for...

  • Internet Watch Foundation and Wikipedia
    Internet Watch Foundation and Wikipedia
    On 5 December 2008, the Internet Watch Foundation , a British watchdog group, blacklisted content on the English version of the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia related to Scorpions' 1976 studio album Virgin Killer, due to the presence of its controversial cover artwork, depicting a young girl posing...

  • Legal status of cartoon pornography depicting minors
    Legal status of cartoon pornography depicting minors
    The legal status of cartoon pornography depicting minors is a unique subject which interacts with internet pornography, simulated pornography, obscenity laws, and specific laws against child pornography....

  • Lolicon
    , also romanised as lolikon or rorikon, is a Japanese portmanteau of the phrase "Lolita complex". In Japan, the term describes an attraction to underage girls or an individual with such an attraction...

    , sometimes shortened to , is a Japanese slang portmanteau of the phrase and describes an attraction to young boys, or an individual with such an attraction. Outside Japan, the term is used less often with this meaning. It refers to a genre of manga and anime wherein pre-pubescent or pubescent...

  • Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content
    Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content
    The Mobile Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Content was founded in 2008 by an international group of mobile operators within the GSM Association to work collectively on obstructing the use of the mobile environment by individuals or organisations wishing to consume or profit from child sexual...

  • Nudist photographs and videos involving minors
  • Operation Blue Orchid
    Operation Blue Orchid
    Operation Blue Orchid was a joint United States-Russian operate to dismantle an online child pornography ring, centering around the website Blue Orchid. It began in May 2000, after an informant in a separate child pornography case came forward with information about the Blue Orchid site...

  • Operation Protect Our Children
    Operation Protect Our Children
    Operation Protect Our Children was a joint operation by the US ICE, CEOS, and DOJ Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section to execute "seizure warrants against 10 domain names of websites engaged in the advertisement and distribution of child pornography"...

  • Prostitution of children
    Prostitution of children
    Prostitution of children or child prostitution is the commercial sexual exploitation of children in which a child performs the services of prostitution, for financial benefit. The term normally refers to prostitution by a minor, or person under the local age of majority...

External links

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