Though the endorsement of child abuse is not explicitly stated, it’s the implicit message and where it leads that is truly cause for alarm.
In the UK, a bizarre revelation has emerged from child protection services who have stated that “Pedophiles who view indecent images should not be given any criminal sanction unless they pose a physical threat to children” as stated in The Times¹. Similar such statements can be found in other outlets¹ covering the same story. The logic being that simply looking at images and video of child abuse does not constitute the same levels of abuse as those producing it. Those who consume it should instead be sent for treatment or have help lines¹ made available to them in lieu of punishment. The claim has been made largely due to the volume of charges¹.
However, this sort of thinking inevitably encourages the creation and distribution of child pornography. The legal grey zone that would surround the viewing of child pornography would eventually spill over into a discussion as to whether or not viewing child pornography should be made legal. With a legal (or even semi-legal) demand in place, supply would follow just as it would when illegal, and those that consume would not be held responsible even in part, for consuming a product in which a child or children have already been abused in order to make. The allowance of child pornography to be distributed in such a manner inherently encourages and minimalizes the abuse of children to produce the pornography in the first place.
In order to curb child abuse (should possession of child pornography be allowed to be explicitly legal or to be in a legal grey zone), it would be inevitable for child pornography to be produced ‘in a legal way’ or under controlled circumstances in order to satisfy demand and block out criminals. Supply and demand will ensure the supply comes no matter what, and those hiding behind the ‘these individuals have not offended’ argument of pedophiles or potential pedophiles ignore the fact that an offense has already taken place to feed the demand for child pornography in the first place.
Perhaps instead of cutting down on charges against pedophiles, it would be better to increase the budgets of police to crack down on both consumers and producers of child pornography further. After all, if police can waste resources arresting people for offensive posts¹ on social media¹ but can’t find the financing and manpower to arrest pedophiles, then perhaps we should reevaluate our priorities.