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What we know about men who download child abuse images

Kerry Sheldon (Research Fellow in the Peaks Academic and Research Unit at Rampton Hospital, Retford, UK)

The British Journal of Forensic Practice

ISSN: 1463-6646

Article publication date: 16 November 2011




This review aims to focus on men who access, download, and circulate child abuse images across the internet as the most frequently occurring type of internet sex offender.


Some of the misconceptions associated with this behaviour are outlined and the extent to which internet offenders display some of the criminogenic factors thought to be associated with the multi‐factorial theories of sexual offending are reviewed.


One conclusion from this is paper is the general impression that internet offenders show many of the characteristics of paedophiles. Their theoretical importance is that they appear to be “desisters” from acting out their sexual interest in children by hands‐on offending.


It is argued that there is a need for more research to stimulate our understanding of this type of offender. Furthermore, what of those who both download material and offend directly against children? They present a dilemma for the literature as some research would suggest that they are not entirely like the internet or the contact sexual offenders in their psychological make‐up; they are the group most in need of reappraisal.



Sheldon, K. (2011), "What we know about men who download child abuse images", The British Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 13 No. 4, pp. 221-234.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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