Dissemination of pornography among teenagers

In recent months, there have been more reports of minors spreading images of child abuse via messenger services. The Federal and State Police Crime Prevention is actively tackling the issue with the new campaign "Child Pornography - Report, Don't Forward". The Bavarian State Criminal Police Office provides current figures on underage pornography distributors, which can provide impetus for prevention work with children and young people.

The current report of the criminological research group of the Bavarian police devotes a special section to the "Distribution of pornography among young people". The illegal distribution of pornography by young people between the ages of 14 and 17 was examined. In Bavaria last year, 621 people between the ages of 14 and 17 were charged with distributing pornographic writings. The report only examined offenses that came to the attention of the police. Therefore, it can be assumed that the actual number of offenses is much higher.

What are the findings of the Bavarian police report?

The report shows that the majority (57.6%) of the disseminated child and youth pornography is voluntarily made "porn selfies", for example nude pictures. This suggests that recordings of sexual violence against minors are distributed on a smaller scale. Above all, the figures shed light on the frequent redistribution of intimate photos without the consent of the person depicted. According to the report, this was true of 76% of the "porn selfies" of minors found .

What is known about perpetrators and victims?

In the dissemination of "porn selfies" originally made voluntarily, it can be observed that there is a clear disproportion between girls and boys. In 93.3% of cases, images of girls were disseminated without being asked. The majority of juvenile perpetrators recorded for distributing pornography are boys, at 83.6%.

What can be deduced from this for prevention work?

  • Children and young people urgently need to be educated about legal and ethical boundaries in online communication, such as "the right to one's own image" and the consequences of disseminating criminal content. In the context of pornography, the klicksafe topic module "Let's Talk About Porn" and the accompanying worksheets are suitable. Creating rules for class chat is a good way to work out rules for online communication with children. For peer education, the work material "Too naked for the Internet?" can be used.
  • On the subject of voluntarily created intimate images ("sexting" or "porn selfies"), young people need information and assistance on possible risks and how to deal with them properly. In the klicksafe topic area on sexting, we provide answers to the question"What can go wrong?"and provide recommendations for young people, parents and educational professionals.
  • Those affected should be encouraged to seek help. The cornerstone for this is to start talking about topics such as pornography use and sexting and to destigmatize them. This is because those affected often do not dare to turn to caregivers because they are ashamed. Children and young people should also be made aware of anonymous support services such as the Nummer gegen Kummer or jugend.support.
  • Children and young people must be empowered to react appropriately when peers spread illegal content in chat groups. The police crime prevention of the federal states and the federal government is devoting a new campaign to the topic of"Distribution of child pornography by young people" and shows options for action.

Further information

Note on the term "child pornography".

The German penal code still uses the term "child pornographic writings". The Bavarian police base their wording on the current legal text and use the term "child pornography", which we also use in reference to the report and the penal code in this article. For some years, there have been efforts to replace the term "child pornography" with formulations such as "images of sexualized violence against children." Recently, the German government had also passed a bill to combat sexualized violence, which is intended to establish this wording as the standard. Further information on the issue can be found in the Luxembourg Guidelines.