Child Pornography: What does it mean?    

According to federal law, any visual depiction of any kind of sexually explicit conduct. This includes a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, painting, photograph, film, video, or computer-generated image. It does not matter if the depiction was made through electronic, mechanical, or any other means in which the medium depicts:

*A minor that is engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene, or
*An image that is (or even appears to be) a minor engaging in sadistic or masochistic abuse, graphic bestiality, or sexual intercourse.

A minor is defined by the federal statute as any person younger than 18 years of age. There are a handful of states that do not share the same definition of a minor. These states may declare a minor as a child younger than 14, 16, or sometimes 17 years of age.

Sexual intercourse can mean a variety of things. It can be defined as genital-to-genital, oral to genital, anal to genital, and oral to anal intercourse and can be between persons of the same or opposite sex. Further, the depiction must also lack any serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

It is illegal to possess, distribute, or manufacture any of these images. The term 'images' can be presented in any of the following formats:

Print MediaCompact Disc

Further images may be broadcast via the following systems:

Computer Bulletin Board SystemsWeb Based Groups
USENET NewsgroupsPeer to Peer Technology
Internet Relay ChatWorld Wide Web

Every state in the Union and the District of Columbia has laws regarding pornographic images depicting children. If a person violates child pornographic laws, that person will be subject to both federal and state laws.

Child pornography is a crime and it appears that this type of crime is on the rise. The use of the Internet as a medium for child pornography is the likely cause. While technology has increased to allow law-abiding citizens to learn more about their world and to connect with others in appropriate ways, it has also attracted those who are determined to use the web for criminal purposes, including child pornography and exploitation. The Internet has made distribution of child pornography easier and cheaper, whereas, advances in home computing have made production of child pornography easier and cheaper. Once a person has sent pornographic images to cyberspace, they are forever irretrievable. So essentially, a child can be continually victimized each and every time a person views those pornographic images.

The reasons why people use or possess child pornography are varied and have been debated and researched amongst scholars and health professionals. A person may possess or use child pornography because he or she is a pedophile, sexually curious, sexually indiscriminate, or because he or she is interested in making a financial profit. All types of people have been known to possess child pornography, regardless of income, social standings or behaviors, or levels of education. All types of images are available on the Internet and can involve both boys and girls.

The effects child pornography can have on a child can be devastating and life-long. Children that have been involved in child pornography not only have physical injuries but may also suffer from depression, anger, withdrawal, and other psychological disorders.