As we noted in Chapter 1, over recent years offences related to the production, possession and distribution of child pornography have assumed great prominence. Our attention has been focused on these crimes by what at times has been intense media coverage. Paradoxically, however, because possession of child pornography is now in the main illegal and also because by its nature it is an underground activity, there is little public knowledge of what it actually is, its attributes, or even the processes involved in its creation. We might even be misled into thinking that it is a new phenomenon, something that has its origins in the late twentieth century.
In this chapter, we will explore issues related to the nature of child pornography, its features and the legal and psychological factors related to it. Our obvious starting point in examining the nature of child pornography is that it relates in some way to the sexual abuse of children-that ultimately is why we are concerned about it, and why it merits the attention it receives. Later in the chapter we will introduce and contrast some of the legal and psychological approaches that aid our understanding, but for the moment it is sufficient to note that our concerns about child pornography are grounded in the association of it with what in general we regard as inappropriate and at times illegal sexual interests in children. We can approach these qualities of child pornography in two ways: from the perspective of production, and from the perspective of viewing.
We have noted in Chapter 1 that, at its worst, child pornography is a picture of a sexual assault on a child. Given this, it is relatively easy, therefore, to bring into focus our concerns about the production of child pornography. To produce it, someone has to assault a child, or pose a child in a sexualised way, and to make a photographic record of it. For the purpose of our discussion, in the following, unless otherwise noted, no particular distinction will be made between still photography, video and cine photography, all of which are subsumed under the general label of photograph. Although comments later in this chapter will make reference to