Sex offenders, Internet child abuse images and emotional avoidance: The importance of values

Ethel Quayle*, Mary Vaughan, Max Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There is increasing evidence that people use the Internet to avoid negative emotional states, such as boredom, anxiety, or depression. This may be of increasing relevance for sex offenders. While the primary function of accessing the Internet for sex offenders is to obtain material that aids sexual arousal, the Internet functions to help people address some of the more immediate feelings of distress or dissatisfaction in their lives. For those with a sexual interest in children, once online offenders can then download child pornography and masturbate to such images, providing a highly rewarding or reinforcing context for further avoidance. The intensity of such behavior often has properties that offenders call 'addictive', with high levels of activity associated with the avoidance of unpleasant emotional states. The aim of this paper is to address issues that relate to emotional avoidance. Rather than having to exclude access to computers or the Internet, offenders, in the context of making explicit personal values and goals, might be helped to accept negative emotions and commit themselves to generating behavioral goals that will move them towards what they personally value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalAggression and Violent Behavior
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Child pornography
  • Cognitive behavior therapy
  • Emotional avoidance
  • Internet
  • Sexual addiction
  • Sexual offenders


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