Module 5: Images Are Children

Exercise 1: Understanding and Responding to Justifications

In order for people to allow themselves to access Sexual Images of Children, they will generally be using a number of  ‘self-justifications’ to persuade themselves that it is ok to do what they are doing. This process of persuading oneself that it is ok to access sexual images of children is called ‘self-talk’. Self-talk is the internal argument someone uses to give themselves permission to do something they know they shouldn’t be doing, and is demonstrated in the image below:


Self-justifications illustration


People will be persuaded by the self-talk process if their ‘yes’ justifications in favour of doing the behaviour are stronger than their ‘no’ arguments dissuading them from doing the behaviour. By increasing your awareness of the self-talk process you go through, and the negative effects of offending for yourself and others, you will increase your ability and motivation to avoid further offending.

Please watch the following film to get an idea of some of the justifications that people use to allow themselves to continue offending online.


In the box below, the left hand side column contains some self-talk justifications you might have used to justify your use of Sexual Images of Children. In the right hand side column list self-talk statements which you could use in response to the matching justification to dissuade yourself from engaging in the behaviour. Please add at the bottom of the table any additional self-talk justifications that you use, along with a matching response. You should repeat all the phrases you write in the “Responses” column in your head, so that this sort of thinking becomes automatic if you start to experience offence-supportive beliefs.

There is an example provided.

Justifications Responses
“I am only looking at pictures.” “The children in the images are real children who are being sexually abused.”
“The images were already online.”  
“I did not directly abuse the child in the image.”  
“The child in the image is smiling, so they must be enjoying it.”  
"I didn't produce the pictures, and they were already there."  
"I've had no direct contact with the child."  
“The children are clothed, so these images cannot be illegal.”  
“This isn’t abuse because no adults are in the images.”  
“The child took this photograph of themselves.”  

Download printable version >


I would tell myself all the usual things like ‘it’s not harming anybody’.


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