Child pornography is a form of pornography showing children which is against the law in many countries. Child pornography is most often made by taking pictures or videos, or more rarely sound recordings, of children who are wearing less clothing than usual, wearing no clothing, or having sex. Child pornography is sometimes called "child sexual abuse images" because it is images (pictures) of a child who is being sexually abused. Child pornography can also be drawn, written, or created by a computer. In that case, it is called "simulated child pornography" or "virtual child pornography": the child in the pornography is simulated or virtual, meaning the child is not real.
Child pornography can be made by setting up a camera or other recording device and molesting a child. Child molestation is when an adult touches a child in the genital area (between the legs), or a child is made to touch an adult in the genital area. An adult touching any part of a child's body without consent (permission) from the child is also sometimes called molestation. Molestation is very harmful to children and can traumatize them for years or for the rest of their lives. An adult recording an instance of molestation as child pornography also harms the child. This harm from the recording is added to the harm from the molestation itself. Knowing that the molestation was recorded can slow down the child's healing from the abuse. The adult who has the recording can sell the recording, or threaten to share it with other adults to scare the child in the recording and make them obey the adult.
The Internet is a common place for people to share child pornography. When police officers find child pornography on the Internet, it is difficult for them to track down the molester and the other people who have looked at the recording. Between 2016 and 2018, many countries made their child pornography laws more similar, which let police from different countries work together more easily. In particular, the word "child" in the new child pornography laws is used as a synonym for legal minors under the age of 18. This can be confusing because "child" usually means a person who has not yet reached puberty. However, in 2007, the United States already had laws forbidding pornography with models under 18, and most people who were arrested for owning child pornography around that time had images of children who have not started puberty.
There are several possible reasons for a person to look at child pornography. The most common is that the viewer is a pedophile, hebephile, or ephebophile who finds minors sexually attractive and uses pornography featuring minors to induce arousal. Viewers may be curious about the subject. Or a person who plans to commit statutory rape may plan to show the pornography to a minor as a form of grooming to convince the minor that minors having sex with adults is normal.
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