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The contributory role of autism symptomology in child pornography offending: why there is an urgent need for empirical research in this area
Journal of Intellectual Disabilities and Offending Behaviour  (IF),  Pub Date : 2018-12-10, DOI: 10.1108/jidob-06-2018-0008
Clare Sarah Allely, Larry Dubin

Purpose As recently highlighted by Creaby-Attwood and Allely (2017) it is crucial that the possible innate vulnerabilities that contributed to sexual offending behaviour in an individual with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are taken into consideration for the application of a diversion program to avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction or during sentencing for a non-custodial outcome. Specifically, in those defendants with a diagnosis of what used to be referred to as Asperger's Syndrome (AS) and now is recognised as an ASD and who are charged and convicted of a non-contact sexual offence, education and mental health intervention will best serve the interests of justice. Design/methodology/approach This paper focuses on one particular type of sexual offending behaviour, namely, possession of child pornography. A systematic PRISMA review was conducted. Findings The authors linked examples of child pornography in the research literature to the ASD symptomology and describe how the symptomology explains such behaviour as not reflecting actual sexual deviance. Originality/value Downloading and viewing of child pornography by individuals with ASD has received relatively little research outside the mental health field. This review is of particular importance to those in the criminal justice system who may not have much knowledge and understanding of ASD. It is suggested that diversion programmes and mental health courts should be set up for this particular population charged with this particular crime in mind so that the necessary treatment/intervention/support and care can be given to this particular group. Keywords: Autism Spectrum Disorder; Asperger’s syndrome; child pornography; child exploitative material; pretrial diversion