|Link found between porn and child abuse|
The child pornography market is expanding dramatically and viewing it could be the catalyst for some to engage in hands-on abuse of children, experts say.
The warning is contained in a research report to the child sex abuse royal commission as it tackles how to abuse-proof institutions where children are at risk.
The report on child exploitation material in the context of institutions says while there is no evidence to support a direct causal link between viewing child pornography and abuse, the 'material may be a strong risk factor' for people already disposed to sexual aggression and deviancy with children.
The report prepared by University of Tasmania researchers says the market for child exploitation material is expanding and easy to access even within workplaces.
Jeremy Prichard and Caroline Spiranovic, who have published research on the explosion of child porn on the internet, point out that research in the area is relatively new and very few studies have examined child pornography in the context of workplaces.
But they say the exploitation material may be accessed, distributed or produced in the workplace using a variety of technologies and for a variety of purposes - personal fantasies, grooming children or financial gain.
The possession and distribution of child pornography is a criminal offence in Australia and is referred to as hands-off child abuse, to differentiate it from contact or 'hands-on' abuse.
Dr Prichard and Dr Spiranovic also say that arguably the viewing of child pornography by employees within institutions or governments should be treated as a red flag for current or future sexual abuse of children.
The authors point out the risk of detection is 'relatively low when offenders take security precautions'. The scope of their report to the commission did not involve original research, but the authors reference prevention strategies for workplaces to reduce the risk of employees viewing child pornography.
Among the strategies are applying protocols for children and workers concerning smartphones, cameras, webcams, computers, content transfer and facilitating anonymous workplace counselling for problematic internet use.
The report is part of a comprehensive research program by the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse into how abuse occurs in institutions and how it can be prevented. It will be used to inform the commission's final recommendations next year.
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