At last someone seems to be talking sense about this issue. I don't expect the public will agree with him though.
Looking at those sorts of photos is wrong and the people who do it need help. However, actually taking those photos or committing an indecent act against a child is far worse and as such the penalties should be different. We should be looking to help those who have these thoughts, but haven't acted on them and I can't see how throwing them in Jail is actually helping them.
Also if they've crossed the boundary and looked at these sorts of photos and they are going to be put on the sex offenders register and imprisoned anyway, what incentive is there for them not to take it further?
We wouldn't treat a drug user in the same way as a dealer.
Such zero tolerance attitudes are also putting barriers preventing safer adult-child relationships. Another story on the radio this morning (which I doesn't appear to have made it onto the BBC news site) covered how men are not going into child facing careers due to the risks of being falsely accused of these sorts of feelings.
Children need adults to care for them and to love them. Yes, they should be protected against abuse, but when this protection starts getting in the way of the care they need surely we need to rethink how we are addressing it?
Personally, I like children (in the socially acceptable way). However, even though I don't have these sorts of feelings towards children, I find myself uneasy when I'm around other people's children in case something I do is taken the wrong way. Surely this isn't the way things should be?
When I was doing my PGCE we were warned not to allow ourselves to be alone with children as it doesn't take much for them to make a false accusation and then it's your word against theirs and even if this wouldn't be enough to convict you of anything it would certainly damage public opinion of your and hence directly affect your career.
Surely there must be a better way of protecting children then this?