A view from the other side
>>Paedophilia will never be defeated until it is treated as a mental health issue rather than a criminal issue.
>Respectfully partially disagree, depending on the specifics.
I think the OP was specifically talking about viewing only. The so-called "victimless" side.
It is NOT victimless, but the victims are not (just) the children in the pictures.
Anon, because I personally have been affected by this.
I started looking at "illegal" pictures online when I was 13. I was otherwise a completely normal (though quiet/geeky) child, in a completely normal family. I was in a boys school, and it didn't seem wrong to be looking at girls my own age. I never told anyone about it - I was terrified of what they might say.
Later on, I was hit by the "system".
At 19, I was still looking at these images, and was suicidally depressed about the situation. It almost killed my degree. But I got rid of them, got over it, put it behind me, finished my degree and got a job.
Some years later though, the police called round, about some log files containing my IP address from a long time ago. I told them about my past issues, and that the files were long gone. They were less than sympathetic and I was on bail for two years while they inspected my computers.
Eventually I was told that traces of the files remained (though provably old), on an unencrypted portion of the disk, and that I was to be charged. The terrifyingly clueless judge threw the book at me (despite the prosecution correcting him that the charge of "making" images actually refers to downloading them, not taking them). I lost my job, spent some traumatic time in jail, and was driven back to suicidal depression. I was put on the sex offender's register for 10 years, and banned indefinitely from using "any computer or device capable of accessing the internet" (including phones, TVs, fridges..) This ban was obviously over the top, but took nearly a year to overturn. I am only just getting my life back on track.
This knee-jerk reaction to censor search terms worries me. It would certainly not have stopped me at 13: I would have been even more excited at the prospect of defeating a censorship filter.
There have been more and more hysterical "crackdown" efforts against these images online, yet it is becoming more and more prevalent for young children to be on the "abuser" end of things.
I don't think censorship and surveillance can ever solve this problem (Instead they risk causing even more troubled children to fall into the "system" trap and ruining their lives). What is needed, like the OP said, is to treat porn addiction in the same way as we now treat drug addiction, especially where it involves or leads to underage & abusive images.
I suspect it would be just as traumatic for a parent to have their child labeled a paedophile, as it would to find out they had been abused.
(Please note that I have never, EVER, paid for, asked for, distributed, or otherwise encouraged the proliferation of child abuse images. I recognise that this does not make what I did right or acceptable, but a balance has to be struck. Absolutism and witch-hunts are even worse for society than the evils they seek to abolish)