Teens main producers of child pornography
TEENAGERS are becoming major makers of child pornography in Victoria.
Statistics reveal adolescents last year outnumbered middle-aged men two to one as the main offenders in child porn production.
Youths 10 to 14 were among the alleged offenders.
But new sentencing statistics have revealed that possession-of-child pornography cases coming before the courts overwhelmingly involve adult men.
All 197 offenders dealt with by magistrates in the past three years for possession were men.
They were aged 18 to 73, and almost a third were between 35 and 45.
Detective Inspector Chris O'Connor said that youths risked being convicted by sharing nude images of their peers using new technology.
"It provides the environment for curious kids to come across it or accidentally come across the material," Insp O'Connor said.
"In the first instance, we can put a lot of it down to innocence and naivety, but there will always be people with a propensity to seek out child abuse images no matter what age."
In a recent case an eight-year-old was questioned by police in country Victoria over naked pictures found on a mobile phone but no charges were laid.
A youth was charged with producing child pornography after a teen party over summer.
Victoria Police data reveals more 15 to 19-year-olds were stung for child porn production than any age group last year.
Twenty in that group were processed for the crime, compared with just 10 aged between 45 and 54.
The spike coincided with the notorious Werribee DVD case in which 11 boys were charged over a shocking home movie circulating in the suburb.
A YouTube search reveals thousands more graphic videos of young people in explicit scenes.
Insp O'Connor warned of severe consequences, saying adolescents risked jail and a criminal conviction.
"The internet has provided the vehicle for deviant thought to foment among those who have a propensity more than just naivety or innocence," Insp O'Connor said.
"It heightens the risk of these children offending."
Police figures released to the Herald Sun show that two youths between 10 and 14 were among the 61 people accused of making child porn last financial year.
Another 20 between 15 and 19 faced the same charge.
Six were 20-24, 11 were 25-34, 14 were 35-45 and 10 were 45-54.
Another 116 were charged with possessing child porn, mostly men in their late 40s and early 50s.
Insp O'Connor had warned in 2005 that adolescent access to child porn was a growing problem that could become "a premier threat to child protection in the community".
Bravehearts child protection advocate Hetty Johnston said modern cultural standards encouraged kids to experiment.
"It's common sense that if you bombard children with a way of thinking, they will respond to that," Ms Johnston said.
"Advertising works and sex sells.
"Kids copy, kids mimic, so when they are behaving in this way it's because that is what they are seeing."