What is “childification?”

“Childification” is the act of portraying adults as children or as pre-pubescent teenagers. Usually, smaller-framed, younger-seeming women are cast, dressed up in childhood clothes, adorned with props (lollipops, school uniforms, pigtails), given braces, and removed of all pubic hair. In pornography, and especially in the sub-genre, teen pornography, “children” are staged in scenarios where they have sex with a “grown up.” The grown up in these situations is almost always an older brother or father to the child.

The intent of childification in teen pornography is clear: to produce child pornography while operating within legal parameters. A common defense of teen pornography would be that children are not actually being exploited. However, childification legitimizes and normalizes the sexual exploitation of children. Empirical evidence from many studies tells us that pornography consumption absolutely plays a role in shaping the way people think; in the context of pornography that sexualizes children, it conditions consumers (primarily male) to believe that children are not off-limits and that it is okay to use  children for personal sexual pleasure.

It is beyond doubt that sexually abusing children has damaging ramifications on their lives, including lowered inhibitions, devalued self-worth, self-objectification, increased rates of drug & alcohol abuse, suicide, and so on. Children do not have the capacity to comprehend sexual intercourse, sexual curiosity, exploitation, and power imbalance on the same emotional and cognitive level as adults do. Comprehensive studies, research, and testimony outline clearly the consequences of perpetrating sexual acts against children and / or exposing children to sex. Beyond the scientific approach, there is also a matter of common sense: adults sexualizing and using children for sexual pleasure is wrong.

Yet, in pornography, adults sexualize and use children for sexual pleasure all the time by proxy via the act of childification. In 2016, PornHub (one of the internet’s most frequented pornography sites) revealed that “teen” was the fifth most searched term for the entire year (coming in at sixth was “step sister”). Some titles in Pornhub’s list of most viewed teen pornography videos of all time include, “BFFS – Step Dad Fucks Daughter And Her Friends,” “Mother helps Babysitter with her video project,” “ExxxtraSmall – Step Brother Takes advantage of Little Sister,” “Kimmy Granger Likes It Rough,” and “Mofos – Teen needs a dick to distract her.” As of writing, those five videos have a combined total of 206,801,857 views. Those are just five of 82,667 videos in the teen (pseudo-child pornography) section alone. With an average duration of 20 minutes per scene, scenes depicting the sexual abuse and rape of children comprise at least 1,653,340 minutes on Pornhub. The sheer amount of content sexualizing children would take more than 3 years of continuous watching to finish.

It is hardly surprising that consumption of teen pornography has been linked to an increased likelihood of watching child pornography and of sexually abusing children. Look at those titles. Adults are making them. Adults are using them to facilitate masturbation. And should laws make room to accommodate the sexual exploitation of actual children (though it should be noted here that child pornography is already ubiquitous and comprises upwards of 20% of all pornography presently online), it is logical and fair to assume that the same adults who consume teen pornography today would easily become perpetrators of children tomorrow.