Internet subcultures and pathways to the use of child pornography

Jeremy Prichard*, Paul A. Watters, Caroline Spiranovic

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


With continual advances in Internet capability the child pornography market is experiencing a boom in demand and supply. Attempts to reduce the market challenge legislators, law enforcement agencies, practitioners and researchers alike - due in large part to the decentralised and global nature of the Internet. Much research has focused on frequent users of child pornography and whether such behaviour is interrelated with child sexual assaults. This article instead draws attention to onset, the first deliberate viewing of child pornography. It presents the results of a three-month study of a global Peer-to-Peer network, isoHunt. Analysis of the site's Top 300 search terms indicated that child pornography is consistently shared. Risk factors for onset are discussed, including the potential normalisation of child pornography among Internet subcultures. Strategies are discussed to encourage subcultures to inhibit child pornography use and to increase understanding of the harms associated with such material. Implications for legal systems, policy and research are explored.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-600
Number of pages16
JournalComputer Law and Security Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Child pornography
  • Internet
  • P2P
  • Subcultures


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