By Matt Anderson

December 11, 2009 ( - A recent study performed by psychologists among inmates of the Bureau of Prisons suggests a strong link between the use of child pornography and child abuse. The study, conducted between 2002-2005 and chronicled in an article by Tori DeAngelis in this month's edition of the American Psychological Association's Monitor on Pyschology, studied men who had already been convicted of child pornography crimes to see if they had also molested children.

Clinical psychologists Michael Bourke, PhD, and Andres Hernandez, PsyD found that while many child pornography viewers before their trial would deny having molested children, after the conviction many of them changed their story.

Bourke said, "There is this assumption - in the treatment context, in courtrooms, in investigative circles and in the assessment literature - that these are dichotomous groups … However, in the course of treatment, these men would disclose to us that their use of the Internet was not the limit of their sexual acting out - it was in fact an adjunctive behavior."

The study, initially released in the April issue of Journal of Family and Violence, studied 155 men convicted of possessing child pornography. Of the 155 men, 74% before their convictions denied having ever molested children.  However, at the end of treatment, 84% of these same men had admitted to molesting a child at least once. The average number of victims per man was 13.5.

When the study was finished, it was initially suppressed because opponents felt that it would generalize too much.  Dr. Fred Berlin, the head of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at John Hopkins said, "These studies have tremendous implications, both in terms of community safety and in terms of individual liberties. So we have to be very careful that our conclusions are valid before we get too firmly tied to them."

Dr. Berlin's criticism of the study rested on the fear that the men were being overly cooperative with the therapists in order to be please them.

However, Graham Hill, head of Great Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, believes that the fact that the men were speaking to therapists makes it more likely that they are being truthful.

"In our view, the therapeutic relationship is the strength of the survey, because these men are more likely to be truthful with therapists they trust than if they're just filling out a questionnaire."

Thus Hernandez, one of the two leading psychologists in the study said, "Our study was exploratory, and our aim was to highlight the apparent co-morbidity of two seemingly distinct forms of criminality."

With the link between child pornography and child molestation established, some believe that this should also be extra cause to prosecute those who are involved in the adult pornography industry. Judith A. Reisman, former president of the Institute for Media Education and a noted psychologist, says that the link between adult pornography and child pornography is also largely recognized.

In her book Soft Porn Plays Hardball, Reisman quotes John Rabun, Jr., Chief Operating Officer of the National Missing and Exploited Children's Center in Washington, D.C as saying that of "fourteen hundred cases of suspected child exploitation all, that is 100 percent … had in their possession at the time of arrest, adult pornography ranging from what is … typically referred to as soft pornography such as Playboy, on up to harder, such as Hustler."

Reisman goes on to say that pornography, like any addiction, starts out soft and moves on to harder material.

"As in all addictive stimuli one proceeds from the original stimuli to 'harder' stimuli. If pornography is an addiction, like alcohol and other drugs, than it also leads a significant percentage of users to 'harder' stimuli, period."

With this new study, Reisman argues that the chain of events can now easily be traced from adult pornography to child pornography and ultimately child molestation.

"[The use of harder pornography] eventually moves into children, and then to increasing sexual violence and brutality to children."

"Pedophilia is a progressive form of degeneracy that commonly follows from the use of adult 'normal' pornography (all of which, including Playboy, our study found included child pornography triggers throughout the magazines). That such use frequently progresses to more deviance is now a given."