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Why internet users’ perceptions of viewing child exploitation material matter for prevention policies


Hunn, C and Spiranovic, C and Prichard, J and Gelb, K, Why internet users' perceptions of viewing child exploitation material matter for prevention policies, Australian and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, 53, (2) pp. 174-193. ISSN 0004-8658 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 the authors

DOI: doi:10.1177/0004865820903794


There are claims that the societal appetite for ‘child exploitation material’ is increasing. Yet, Australia’s policy response does not include initiatives to dissuade potential offenders from deliberately viewing child exploitation material for the first time (onset). To critically examine this issue, this paper draws on Situational Crime Prevention theory. It argues that (a) many first-time child exploitation material viewers fit the Situational Crime Prevention construct of the Opportunistic Offender and (b) suggests that current policy overlooks the kinds of non-instrumental factors that increase the risk of onset for this group, including doubts about the criminality and harmfulness of viewing child exploitation material. The paper then empirically examines social attitudes to child exploitation material viewing by presenting the findings of a survey of 504 Australian internet users. Results indicate that a sizeable minority of the participants were: unaware that it is a crime to view certain types of child exploitation material in Australia; and held doubts about the harmfulness of viewing child exploitation material. These findings are used to reflect on how the presence of these non-instrumental factors among ordinary internet users may affect the offending readiness of the Opportunistic Offender. Policy implications are then briefly discussed.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:child exploitation material, internet users, opportunistic offender, prevention policy, situational crime prevention theory, social attitudes
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Law in context
Research Field:Criminal law
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Justice and the law
Objective Field:Crime prevention
UTAS Author:Hunn, C (Ms Charlotte Hunn)
UTAS Author:Spiranovic, C (Dr Caroline Spiranovic)
UTAS Author:Prichard, J (Associate Professor Jeremy Prichard)
ID Code:138853
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Law
Deposited On:2020-05-04
Last Modified:2021-01-20

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