In Chapter 3 we reviewed the various views about sexual offending, and noted that there is a paucity of research on the role of child pornography in adult sexual interest in children. Other than recognising it as an element, its significance is unclear in the broader picture. In this chapter we will explore what the function of child pornography might have for adults with a sexual interest in children and relate this to a series of interviews with offenders who have used the Internet to access pictures.
A basic issue in considering the psychological functions of pictures is the relationship between child pornography and contact offences. Both the function of child pornography and its relationship to contact offences remains unclear; yet this, of course, is a critical issue in assessing the broader deviant context to child pornography collection and viewing. Authors such as Goldstein (1999) suggested that pornography is a by-product of contact offences, or used by offenders to facilitate the seduction of new victims (Tyler and Stone 1985), and an inevitable part of the process of oganised abuse (Itzin 1997). Itzin states that 'Pornography, in the form of adult and/or child pornography used to season/groom/initiate/coerce children into agreeing to be abused, or the production of child pornography (the records of children being sexually abused), is implicated in every form of child abuse, however it is organised' (192). Itzin conceptualised the organisation of child sexual abuse as a continuum, which she represents as a form of concentric circles. The inner circle represents adult and child pornography, and emphasises how all forms of abuse can, and do, involve the use of such material and the recording of the sexual abuse of the child.
Most of the literature relating to child pornography assumes that pornographic images play an important role in sexual fantasy and are used for purposes of arousal. Lanning (1992) suggested that child pornography is used in a similar way to adult pornography-to feed sexual fantasies. He goes on to assert that, 'Some pedophiles only collect and fantasise about the material without acting out the