Child pornography and sexual grooming provide case study exemplars of problems that society and law have sought to tackle to avoid both actual and potential harm to children. Yet despite the considerable legal, political and societal concern that these critical phenomena attract, they have not, thus far, been subjected to detailed socio-legal and theoretical scrutiny. How do society and law construct the harms of child pornography and grooming? What impact do constructions of the child have upon legal and societal responses to these phenomena? What has been the impetus behind the expanding criminalisation of behaviour in these areas? Suzanne Ost addresses these and other important questions, exploring the critical tensions within legal and social discourses which must be tackled to discourage moral panic reactions towards child pornography and grooming, and advocating a new, more rational approach towards combating these forms of exploitation.
• Combination of theoretical and empirical approaches to the subjects offers readers a richer analysis • Empirical study exploring law enforcement officers' experiences of child sexual grooming demonstrates how the legal and policing systems work in practice • International and comparative aspects to the analysis facilitate the learning of relevant lessons from selected jurisdictions
Introduction: Constructions, themes and critical tensions; 1. The modern day phenomena of child pornography and sexual grooming; 2. Criminalizing child pornography and behaviour related to sexual grooming; 3. Matters of harm and exploitation; 4. Moral panics and the impact of the construction of childhood innocence; 5. The law elsewhere and questions of individual rights; 6. Conclusions and implications; Appendix A. Details of dates of interviews with police officers.
'… uniquely well-informed … consistently deep coverage … she raises some uncomfortingly convincing arguments …' Family Law
'Ost puts forward a new approach to tackle the harms of child pornography and sexual grooming rationally and effectively. … a decidedly valuable contribution to the literature and debates on sex offending against children … It is the first British book to provide a balanced perspective by going beyond purely legalistic discourses … providing a detailed theoretical and critical account … readable and accessible … perhaps the greatest strength and contribution of this book are its important message …' British Journal of Criminology
'Suzanne Ost … pushes her materials in new directions to argue that we should be less concerned with child sexual abuse and also consider the various other ways that children are exploited. … Crucial in all of this is her contention that we need to abandon the dominant social construct of childhood vulnerability and, instead, empower children to let them explain how childhood should be understood and experienced. … Ost … was … able … to open up the space that we call 'childhood' and how that construction exploits children whether we are considering Norway or England.' The Howard Journal
'This book is a timely, rational antidote to the sex panic urging people to remove the naked body of a child from art galleries, photo albums, and the beach.' Dany Lacombe, Simon Fraser University