Implicit in the working model of <IWF>  is that not all kinds of viewing of  CSEM are harmful. In particular, it is just assumed that when their analysts view the material, that does not harm the children. This means that the intention of the person doing the viewing is a vital part of its harm.

The actual reaction of the analysts is of interest. Women in particular typically get some sexual arousal from viewing any sexual situation at all. We would expect men to have some when viewing images of girls who are well into puberty. Perhaps analysts who feel such reactions strongly are told this is not the job for them. It would be intriguing to know if dealing with more modest reactions is part of the counseling process, or whether the IWF's approach to this particular problem is blanket denial. Perhaps the key to the "no harm" assumption is that they are not watching it intending to get sexual arousal, and any such incidental arousal doesn't contribute to harm.

So what is the intention of a person who seeks out and views a CSEM image? I have an idea as to what case leaps to mind: a man who is sexually aroused by the abuse, who is glad it happened and was recorded for him to look at, who wishes he could have been there and doing it himself, and who feels nothing but satisfaction from the experience of masturbating to the image. In fact, the motivations and experiences of those who view cover a wide range, and I present some evidence below that the stark image I painted is actually rare.

Some people have reported viewing such images as an attempt to deal with their own childhood sex abuse. Some might view it with no arousal at all, but horror and sympathy at the plight of the child. But in fact, it's a safe bet that the vast majority of those who view the images do so because they find it sexually arousing to do so.

<Virtuous Pedophiles>  (of which I am co-founder) has an online support group for pedophiles who are determined never to act sexually with a child, and are against trying to change society to make adult-child sex legal or accepted. We do not require that they never look at CSEM, though we do not allow members who imply they are proud of their viewing. We do not allow admissions of illegal behavior, so we can't be sure about any individual, but it seems like many do sometimes view it. They try not to but they do.

I decided to start a poll of Virtuous Pedophiles members to find out what they are thinking. Among those who have never seen CSEM, nearly 90% say they feel really bad about anyone getting sexual pleasure from a child's abuse. Among those who have seen it, over half choose that very same option. They feel bad about what they have done. Under 4% think it is justifiable to make children suffer for their sexual satisfaction.

Men who have been caught and are in legal trouble for CSEM viewing (quoted in one of the IWF podcasts) have a strong incentive to voice such views. Those who respond to our poll, in contrast, are giving anonymous replies with no incentive to lie.

Now, VP members may not be representative of all those who view CSEM, but there is a significant group of pedophile viewers who think of CSEM and the children in it the same way as the ordinary person. 

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