NEW YORK, September 28, 2009 ( - In the fight against child sexual abuse, the explosion of hardcore adult pornography on the Internet and elsewhere is a direct causal factor that cannot be ignored, according to the media watchdog group Morality in Media in an expansive survey released Friday.

The 40-page report entitled "How Adult Pornography Contributes to Sexual Exploitation of Children" is supplemented by 175 pages of appendices, and draws from sources including news articles, court cases, scholarly journals, social science studies, books, and Congressional testimony since 1980.  The report was compiled by MIM President Robert W. Peters. (Click here to download.)

The evidence compiled shows that:
- Perpetrators often progress from viewing adult pornography to viewing child pornography
- Perpetrators use adult pornography to groom their younger victims. 
- Johns act out what they view in adult pornography with child prostitutes, and pimps use adult pornography to instruct child prostitutes
- Children imitate behavior they view in adult pornography with other children
- Perpetrators use adult pornography to sexually arouse themselves
- Addiction to adult pornography destroys marriages, and children raised in one-parent households are more likely to be sexually exploited

In the report, Peters commends government and private entities for finally working together to curb sexual exploitation of children.  "For the most part, however," says Peters, "these same … entities have turned a blind eye towards the explosion of hardcore adult pornography on the Internet and elsewhere … [T]hose who fight sexual exploitation of children but who turn their backs to the adult pornography problem are making a tragic mistake."

Peters observes that while hardcore adult pornography does not depict actual children, he notes that it often includes "hardcore depictions of sex with persons who look like children and with 'barely legal teens.'"

Responding to critics who say hardcore adult pornography is legal, Peters points out that Congress amended federal obscenity laws in 1996 "to clarify that distribution of obscene matter is prohibited on the Internet."  In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court stated in Miller v. California that it has been "categorically settled" that "obscene material is unprotected by the First Amendment." 

"The Miller Court went on to define the term 'obscene' in a manner intended to restrict the reach of … obscenity laws to 'hardcore' pornography," he notes.  "Today, most adult pornography distributed commercially, whether online or elsewhere, is 'hardcore.'"   

Peters also rejects the notion that the average American no longer deems hardcore adult pornography unacceptable.

"Pornography defenders overlook at least three factors," wrote Peters.  "First, much if not most hardcore adult pornography is consumed by a relatively small percentage of individuals who are addicted to it. 

"Second, just because a person experiments with hardcore adult pornography for a period of time or on occasion succumbs to the temptation to view it does not mean he or she approves of what is viewed, especially when hardcore adult pornographers promote their products aggressively … Third, many visitors to 'adult websites' are minors."

He also cites the results of several polls by Harris Interactive and Pew Research Center indicating that most adults do not consider pornography morally acceptable or harmless and that they want federal obscenity laws enforced.  

Thus, he concluded, it is a mistake for the Justice Department and FBI to focus their energies almost exclusively on child molesters and child pornography, while ignoring the rapid spread of hardcore pornography. 

"In the first place," Peters writes, "the explosion of hardcore adult pornography is contributing to sexual exploitation of children in various ways.  In the second place, children are harmed not just by predators; they are also harmed by exposure to hardcore adult pornography. ...

"In the third place … a frequent result of a successful federal obscenity prosecution is a significant fine and/or forfeiture of property … [which] can offset in whole or part the cost of these cases. In the fourth place … it isn't just children who are harmed by hardcore adult pornography." 

Peters states that "parental involvement, public education, the involvement of religious groups, and corporate responsibility are all desperately needed" in addition to law enforcement. 

Click here to download "How Adult Pornography Contributes to Sexual Exploitation of Children."