Is viewing child pornography child sexual abuse?

Yes. Child pornography is illegal because it is evidence of a crime and harms all children. Some people refer to child pornography images as “crime scene photographs” to make the point that taking such pictures and behaving sexually with a child are crimes. Viewing child pornography perpetuates an industry which harms children. Some adults may justify their viewing of child pornography by saying to themselves or others that they would never behave sexually with a child in person. You can remind them that it is still illegal.

People can get in trouble before they even realize it. When it is so easy to access sexually explicit materials on the Internet, users can find themselves acting on curiosities they didn’t have before. Some people find themselves losing control over their use of pornography, for example by spending more and more time viewing it and, for some, looking for new and different types of pornography, including images of children. Some people accidentally find sexual images of children and are curious or aroused by them. They may justify their behavior by saying they weren’t looking for the pictures, they just “stumbled across” them, etc. If you find what you believe to be sexual images of children on the Internet, report this immediately to authorities by contacting Cybertipline. If someone you know is concerned about their Internet activity, seek the help of professionals who specialize in this area.

Learn More

Return to FAQs