Internet Pedophiles Treating Perpetrators & Victims
Internet Pedophiles continuing education MFT CEUs

Manual of Articles Sections 8 - 19
Section 8
Working with Internet Pedophiles Part I: Introduction

CEU Question 8 | CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents | Internet
Counselor CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, MFT CEUs

The number of people in the UK who were cautioned or charged over internet child pornography offences quadrupled between 2001 and 2003, By 2003, a record number of 2,234 cases was recorded (Recorded Crime Statistics 2003}, The numbers of internet pedophiles who are coming into contact with mental health services also appears to be increasing. While the reason for contact may not be the offence or the offending behavior - which itself may be considered a mental disorder (APA 2000) – there are dearly management issues that cannot be ignored. Risk assessment issues, which are often embedded in health and social services organizations’ policies, are bound to arise.

One survey of clinicians reports that professionals feel they know very little about the reasons for, and process of, offending. They also have poor knowledge of the internet and child pornography in general and therefore do not know what to ask (Quayle and Taylor 2002), Clinicians also report not knowing how to judge risk and what to do with the risk assessment (Quayle and Taylor 2002), This article summarizes the current research in order to help healthcare professionals in this area.

The legal perspective
Legally there are four main misuses of the internet in this context: trafficking child pornography; locating children to molest; sexual communication with children; and communication with other pedophiles (Durkin 1997). The legal position on trafficking child images has been tightened considerably by the 2003 Sexual Offences Act (Home Office 2004a), However, what images are considered illegal is open to interpretation and may be context specific. Having a collection of child images remains an offence in the UK even if the child is considered to be a consenting adult in his or her own country, and possibly even if the image was computer-generated and no child was actually involved.

The law on sexual communication with children is less clear, although a recent working paper suggests there may be scope to use current incitement laws (Home Office 2004b), Discussing non-sexual fantasies or role-playing an 'online' personality need not be illegal. Communication with other pedophiles, particularly sharing information about the process of offending, such as 'grooming' certain children, may also fall under incitement to commit offence laws, but this is not clear (Home Office 2004b).

When reporting offences in the UK, social services need only be informed if a clearly identified child is involved. Otherwise only the police (from a legal perspective) and the manager or supervisor {according to employer policies and professional codes of conduct) need to be informed in the first instance. It is perhaps easy to forget that the above behaviors are primarily crimes and secondarily a symptom, or coincidental to a mental health problem. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, attached to the Serious and Organized Crime Agency, has been operational since April (www,ceop, Its aims include gathering intelligence, supporting victims and providing 24-hour advice to professionals (Home Office 2005, CEOP 2006).

The global nature of the internet impedes effective law enforcement (Barrett 1997) and this of course includes child pornography. The wide variation in attitudes towards child pornography and the effectiveness of the legal systems allow for production and distribution in certain countries followed by export via the internet. Readers who wish to discover what is happening in individual countries may find Arnaldo (2001) helpful.

There are a wide range of theories of sexual offending, but the Hedonic Management Addiction model (Brown 1997) appears appropriate for the majority of internet offenders as it explains why the internet has quickly become the primary means of exchanging child pornography. An individual with certain vulnerabilities discovers an activity that creates euphoria or relief from dysphoria. On the internet, the source of euphoria can be chosen from a large pool, and euphoria can be reliably predicted, with immediate and powerful gratification and no immediate sanctions.

The client is more likely to repeat the behavior if there is social support for the behavior, and a powerful euphoric effect. The social reinforcement is very high due to the high number of offenders on the internet and high levels of communication between them, supporting each other and communicating opportunities and risks - 'Everyone else is doing it, so it can't be wrong'. Users also exchange pictures and some locate children to molest, both actions being a source of status in the online community. Also, the pictures may show happy looking and compliant children - reinforcing the cognitive distortion that no one is being harmed.

The euphoric effect can also be enhanced by the development of an 'online personality', which may add to the excitement for the offender. The anonymity also lowers the social risk and inhibitions. Many offenders neglect other aspects of their life and lack self-awareness at this stage, and are reliant on the offending as their main source of pleasure. Cognitive distortions develop to protect the source of pleasure, and these beliefs are then reinforced by the online community. Some themes in these distortions include minimization of extent; restrained view of harm (1 was just collecting information'); justifying ('It must be okay if it's all over the net'); blaming others or external factors; fantasy is all right ('What's in my head can't hurt anyone'); and 'poor me' ('I really like children and everyone reads more into it') (Burke ef a/2002),

Factors leading to offending behaviors
Not much is known about factors mediating internet child pornography other than that there are many of them and they are complex. Some researchers confuse co-morbid factors - such as personality disorders, trauma, substance abuse and biological factors - with mediating factors. Low investment in conventional society is a probable risk factor, as are empathy deficits, distorted beliefs (Marshall 1996} and the inability to use inhibitory self-talk (Porter and Critelli 1994), Loneliness and lack of intimacy is common in sexual offenders compared with non-sexual offenders and normal populations (Siedman etal 1994), which may be important in determining the nature of the offence (i.e. sexual as opposed to violent).

Offending: some background
It is important for clinicians to recognize some key facts about the offending process to assess the client accurately. Pedophiles collect images of children for a number of reasons. Obviously it serves to stimulate the pedophile’s sexual arousal and drive, but it may also be part of grooming behavior in contact offences - role modeling to a child what he wants the boy or girl to do. It preserves the child at a sexually arousing age, reducing the need to manage the complexities of ageing and loss of innocence. Images of children can also be used as threats and blackmail in contact offences.

Pedophiles generally use conventional printers, scanners and digital cameras for transfer of images, and bulletin board systems, internet relay chat and newsgroups for communication. There are also dedicated websites with differing levels of security, from requiring a password to being limited to a selected few by word of mouth. Storage is typically embedded in a website or CD-ROM. For some offenders, the process of collecting images can be as important as the use of them and some offenders have reported sadness at the loss of a collection even though it might no longer serve a purpose for them.
- Wilcockson, Matthew; Working with internet pedophiles; Mental Health Practice; June 2006; Vol. 9; Issue 9.

Personal Reflection Exercise Explanation
The Goal of this Home Study Course is to create a learning experience that enhances your clinical skills. We encourage you to discuss the Personal Reflection Journaling Activities, found at the end of each Section, with your colleagues. Thus, you are provided with an opportunity for a Group Discussion experience. Case Study examples might include: family background, socio-economic status, education, occupation, social/emotional issues, legal/financial issues, death/dying/health, home management, parenting, etc. as you deem appropriate. A Case Study is to be approximately 150 words in length. However, since the content of these “Personal Reflection” Journaling Exercises is intended for your future reference, they may contain confidential information and are to be applied as a “work in progress.” You will not be required to provide us with these Journaling Activities.

Personal Reflection Exercise #1
The preceding section contained information about working with internet pedophiles introduction.  Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 8
What two factors lead to repeat behavior in internet pedophiles? Record the letter of the correct answer the CEU Answer Booklet

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