Abuse of the child occurs during the sexual acts or lascivious exhibitions of genitals or pubic areas which are recorded in the production of child pornography.
Most possessors of child pornography who are arrested are found to possess images of prepubescent children; possessors of pornographic images of post-pubescent minors are less likely to be prosecuted, even though those images also fall within the statutes.
Dutch authorities arrested 37-year-old Israeli-born Dutch citizen Amir Ish-Hurwitz, founder and owner of the internet forum Boylover.net, the center of the ring.
In the 2000s, use of the term child abuse images increased by both scholars and law enforcement personnel because the term "pornography" can carry the inaccurate implication of consent and create distance from the abusive nature of the material.
In 2008, the World Congress III against the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents stated in their formally adopted pact that "Increasingly the term 'child abuse images' is being used to refer to the sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in pornography.
Producers of child pornography try to avoid prosecution by distributing their material across national borders, though this issue is increasingly being addressed with regular arrests of suspects from a number of countries occurring over the last few years.
The prepubescent pornography is viewed and collected by pedophiles for a variety of purposes, ranging from private sexual uses, trading with other pedophiles, preparing children for sexual abuse as part of the process known as "child grooming", or enticement leading to entrapment for sexual exploitation such as production of new child pornography or child prostitution.
Viewers of child pornography who are pedophiles are particularly obsessive about collecting, organizing, categorizing, and labeling their child pornography collection according to age, gender, sex act and fantasy.
According to FBI agent Ken Lanning, "collecting" pornography does not mean that they merely view pornography, but that they save it, and "it comes to define, fuel, and validate their most cherished sexual fantasies." An extensive collection indicates a strong sexual preference for children, and if a collector of child pornography is also a pedophile, the owned collection is the single best indicator of what he or she wants to do.
79% also had images of nude or semi-nude children, but only 1% possessed such images alone.
Law enforcement found about half (48%) had more than 100 graphic still images, and 14% had 1,000 or more graphic images.
Both distribution and possession are now criminal offenses in almost all Western countries.