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The relationship between child pornography offending and pedophilia is sufficiently robust that child pornography use has been included as specific behavioral evidence in the proposed revision of the psychiatric diagnostic criteria for pedophilia, defined clinically as "persistent sexual attraction to prepubescent children" (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Seto, 2010).
However, pedophilia is not the sole motivation for Internet offending involving children; that is, not all child pornography offenders show a sexual preference for children over adults.
In addition, research by the Crimes against Children Research Center suggests that solicitation offenders target young adolescents, typically between ages 13 and 15, which would not be consistent with the clinical diagnosis of pedophilia (because many of the adolescents involved would be showing some signs of sexual and physical maturation) (Wolak et al., 2008).
This indicates that Internet sexual offending is a new phenomenon that may not be influenced by the same contextual factors as other kinds of sexual or violent crime.Some of the remaining countries prohibited child pornography under more general obscenity laws, but some countries had no legal prohibitions.There is also variation in prohibitions of child pornography; for example, some countries (such as the United States) prohibit only visual depictions of real children, whereas other countries (such as Canada) prohibit depictions of fictional children (e.g., anime) or nonvisual depictions (e.g., audio recordings or stories).The offenders in Seto, Reeves, and Jung (2010) gave other explanations for their child pornography offending, including indiscriminate sexual interests, an "addiction" to pornography, and curiosity (see also Merdian et al., 2013).These explanations are based on self-report alone and should be interpreted cautiously because offenders may have offered alternative explanations (other than pedophilia) for their crimes in response to the stigma associated with the pedophilia label.