July 15, 2009

Child porn not a sex offense risk factor

For men without a prior sex offense conviction, consumption of child pornography does not represent a risk factor for a sex offense, Swiss researchers say.

Frank Urbaniok of the Canton of Zurich Department of Justice in Switzerland and colleagues studied 231 men convicted of consuming child pornography in 2002.

The study, published in the journal BMC Psychiatry, found 1 percent had gone on to commit a hands-on sex offense in the following six years.

Our results support the assumption that these consumers, in fact, form a distinct group of sex offenders. Probably, the motivation for consuming child pornography differs from the motivation to physically assault minors, Urbaniok said in a statement.

Furthermore, the recidivism rates of 1 percent for hands-on and 4 percent for hands-off sex offenses were quite low.

Due to the widespread use of the Internet, child pornography consumers today may differ from our sample in some socioeconomic aspects, such as in the level of education or level of income, Urbaniok said.

Nevertheless, there are two relevant and practical findings that seem to be robust, Urbaniok said. For consumers of child pornography without a criminal history, the prognosis for hands-on sex offenses and for recidivism with child pornography is favorable.