In this book, we have tried to develop a broad and comprehensive view of child pornography, in terms of the features, qualities and processes that might be involved in its collection, distribution and production. In this final chapter, we will attempt to pull together some of the major issues that emerge from the book, and in doing so try to extend the debate towards conceptual and policy gaps and practice as we see them.
By way of review and conclusion, perhaps the single issue most clearly to emerge is the fact that child pornography can have a variety of functions for individuals who collect, produce and distribute it. However we define child pornography, its role for those involved with it can be quite complex. Whilst sexual fantasy may in one sense lie at its heart, there are also ways in which the pictures are a commodity which those concerned with them use in different ways, and which can meet a number of different needs for those individuals. Furthermore, it seems that these functions for the individual can change over time, and that whilst we might identify a range of processes in which child pornography plays a part, not all individuals are involved with these processes in the same way, and similarly the functions of child pornography for any given individual may change over time.
A further principal issue addressed by this book relates to the specific role of the Internet in the production, distribution and collection of child pornography, as well as the broader associated issue of the role of the Internet in the sexual exploitation of children through child pornography. Two problems can be identified in drawing conclusions with respect to this issue. The first is our general lack of knowledge about the role of child pornography in the sexual exploitation of children per se, the second relates to a historical comparative perspective and concerns the extent and nature of child pornography before the Internet. To properly understand the current situation, we need to better define its context, but we are ill-prepared to do this. Is the extent and nature of child pornography growing because of the Internet, or are we simply more aware of something that has always been there, but hidden? With respect to new pictures, when they emerge are we seeing something that would have happened anyway, but in the absence of the Internet did not have an accessible forum through which to emerge, or are we seeing a genuine growth of something that was not happening before? The Internet certainly makes child