Paper presented at Victims and the Criminal Justice System symposium, held at Pace Law School, April 4, 2008

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that possession of child pornography is not a victimless crime. It will illustrate the problem and explain the harm suffered by its victims. It will then trace factors that may have contributed to the perception that possession of child pornography is a victimless offense. The first factor is the dual nature of the child pornography laws that addresses both actual and future harm. When this duality is applied to possessors, their link to actual harm appears attenuated because the possessor is not involved in the acts of sexual abuse inherent in producing the images. The second factor is that a number of scholars have criticized generally possession offenses as a tool for preemptive prosecutions, but they have not exempted child pornography from their condemnation. Finally, technology itself is a cause. The growth of the Internet and the ability to find images from the comfort of one's home further weakens the connection between the victim and the viewer; this distance is exacerbated by a general sense that nothing is real in cyberspace.