n Child Abuse Research in South Africa - The role of pornography in the sexual exploitation of children




While society continues to endure the effects of sexual exploitation of children, there is insufficient reliable research information regarding the possible role of pornographic material in the carrying out of sex offenses against children. This article presents the research findings from a qualitative study that was undertaken for a doctoral thesis. The aim of the study was to explore the role of pornographic material in relation to the sexual exploitation of children. A total of 18 in-depth interviews were conducted with convicted sex offenders who committed an offence involving a child and reported frequent exposure to pornographic material. The research findings, obtained through a process of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), highlight personal and family characteristics that may increase individuals' susceptibility to the influence of exposure to pornographic material. Moreover, it was found that early, recurrent exposure to pornography may results in physiological, cognitive and behavioural effects that contribute to the level of sexual satisfaction and need for instantaneous sexual gratification. Often this uncontrollable need for sexual gratification results in destructive behaviour such as addiction to pornographic material, criminal sexual acts involving children, and degeneration of the family system. Based on the outcome of the study, it can be concluded that pornography may play a role in the sexual exploitation of children, which necessitates the effective regulation of pornographic material, especially on the Internet, and appropriate multi-sectorial approach to effectively deal with individual and societal issues resulting from the exposure to pornographic material.


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