Child pornography in the woodshed


University of British Columbia

Date Issued


Document Type



Master of Laws - LLM




This is a deconstruction of "child pornography" through an analysis of media images of child spanking and their relationship with the criminal law and cinema, video and broadcasting regulation in Britain and Canada. It suggests that the law's primary concern is not the protection of children but the elimination of the heresy that children are sexually attractive. Chapter 1 introduces the phenomenon under discussion, namely internet sites that collect stills and clips from mainstream movies and television showing children receiving corporal punishment. The chapter postulates that these sites are for sexual gratification and explores what society understands by "sexual exploitation of children" and "sex" itself. Part I considers whether the web sites are child pornography under English or Canadian criminal law. Chapter 2 looks at Canada's definitions of obscenity and child pornography. Chapter 3 asks whether the images might be indecent according to England's law. These chapters examine the law's understanding of child spanking as a sexual act, exploring what constitutes "sex". While Part I declines to state definitively whether such web sites are illegal, it argues that the movies and television from which the images originate are tolerated for the reasons that give the images sexual appeal. Part II looks at the regulation in Canada and Britain of the movies and television from which the images are taken. Chapter 4 deals with cinema and video regulation, which prohibits eroticising violence and children, and asks how films are nevertheless rife with images of child beating used for sexual arousal. Chapter 5 similarly examines broadcasting regulation and asks whether the ban on sexualising children might be unconstitutional under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Part III concludes by looking at how society permits the eroticisation of children, while condemning the "paedophile". It suggests that the web sites may arise from childhood trauma over corporal punishment, compares the harm of that practice with that caused by the web sites and concludes that if there be prohibition, then it should be of child spanking, rather than the sites, which are non-exploitative testament to ingenuity in the face of a hypocritically censorial regime.


Child pornography; Television and children -- Moral and ethical aspects; Internet (Computer network) -- Moral and ethical aspects; Motion pictures and children -- Moral and ethical aspects

Date Available



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