skip navigation


Abstract Database

Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

To download this abstract, check the box next to the NCJ number then click the "Back To Search Results" link. Then, click the "Download" button on the Search Results page. Also see the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 213511 
Title: Criminalizing Online Speech to "Protect" the Young: What are the Benefits and Costs? (From Crime and the Internet, P 100-112, 2001, David S. Wall, ed. -- See NCJ-213504)
Author(s): Marjorie Heins
Date Published: 2001
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Routledge
Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN, England
Sale Source: Routledge
2 Park Square
Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN,
United Kingdom
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Book Chapter
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: This chapter critiques the assumption underlying legal efforts to protect children from reading or viewing sexually explicit images and materials.
Abstract: Laws against exposing or dispensing pornography or sexual speech to children assume that such exposure would damage the children psychologically and stimulate sexual feelings they cannot manage responsibly. This chapter argues that such an argument is intellectually and politically flawed, proving ultimately to be counterproductive. Youth cannot be expected to mature into competent adults who can assess ideas unless they have practice in being exposed to and managing a variety of experiences as children. Education is more likely than legally enforced censorship to develop sexually mature adults. Attempts to control online speech through legal sanctions tend to stifle rational efforts to teach children about responsible sexual behavior. This chapter proposes that as youth approach mid-adolescence, perhaps at age 15, there should be a presumption against censorship. As with censorship of adults, the government would have to prove the need for any restrictions on free speech. Courts and policymakers should reconsider the traditional but mistaken assumption that sexually explicit speech has little value and therefore merits little protection. It is an important area of human development that brings with it many concepts and value judgments. Children should not be entirely closed off from learning about this important area of their development. 11 notes and 48 references
Main Term(s): Computer related crime
Index Term(s): Computer privacy and security; Computer privacy and security laws; Freedom of speech; Pornography
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.