Fantasy depictions of child sexual abuse: The problem of ageplay in Second Life

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This paper explores the arguments put forward for prohibiting the possession of fantasy images of child sexual abuse within the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, and applies them to sexual ageplay in Second Life. Sexual ageplay is the virtual act of simulating child sexual abuse using animated child characters operated by consenting adult users. The arguments underpinning the legislation centre on the issue of harm and the relationship between online, virtual behaviour and real world contact offences. It is argued that extant research does not support a causal connection, although some work on fantasy offence planning and online paedophilia chat groups suggests a link. Due to the lack of empirical work in the area it is concluded that legislation to criminalise such behaviour on grounds of harm causation is currently unjustified, although prohibition of sexual ageplay for known sex offenders is recommended. Further research into the extent, use and effects of sexual ageplay is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-246
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Sexual Aggression
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jul 2013


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