Who accesses sexual images of children?

It’s often assumed that people who look at sexual images of children on the internet (‘children’ being anyone who is under 18 years of age) are somehow very different from the rest of society. Newspapers in particular may refer to them as ‘monsters’ or ‘perverts’ . This language is hard to understand for anyone who is trying to come to terms with such behaviour in a partner, child, parent or someone close to them.

In reality, people who access or share (distribute) sexual images of children range from adolescents to pensioners and come from all kinds of backgrounds and ethnicities.  They include civil servants, politicians, entertainers and people in the media, those in the public sector, shop workers and tradesmen. The overwhelming majority of those arrested for accessing indecent images are male, so we refer to them as ‘he’; however, females also access them.

It’s important that we realise that people who look at sexual images of children are, in most ways, no different from anyone else, although they are committing a very serious crime; that way, we are better able to talk about the issue and not assume it’s just something that ‘happens to someone else’.

Other internet-related sexual offences against children

  • Chat-room activity with other adult users of sexual images of children
  • Chat rooms where users are in direct contact with children, including via the use of webcams.
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