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The images themselves vary considerably in their graphic content.
In some cases individuals may collect images that do not involve overt pornography and are not technically illegal. C.: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
The first federal law concerning child pornography was passed in 1978, and the first laws that specifically referred to computers and child pornography were passed in 1988.
Since that time, there has been a steady tightening of child pornography laws(see Table 1).
Because legal definitions of both child and pornography differ considerably among jurisdictions, for research purposes child pornography is often defined broadly as any record of sexual activity involving a prepubescent person.
Pornographic records include still photographs, videos, and audio recordings. “Computer Search and Seizure Issues in Internet Crimes Against Children Cases.” Rutgers Computer and Technology Law Journal 7–373.
However, many images circulating on the Internet may be decades old, taken from earlier magazines and films. “Policing the Filth: The Problems of Investigating Online Child Pornography in England and Wales.” Policing and Society 15: 42–62.
Internet child pornography is unlike most crimes local police departments handle.
Finally, it reviews responses to the problem and what is known about these from evaluative research and police practice. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.
The treatment of children as sexual objects has existed through the ages, and so too has the production of erotic literature and drawings involving children.
Most states have followed the federal lead with specific legislation, allowing state police to join federal agencies in the fight against child pornography.However, the exact nature of the legislation varies considerably among states.
There is also a wide variation in international laws covering child pornography, and this can have significant implications for law enforcement.