Keith Manch, director of gaming and censorship regulation for the department, said that 120 teenage boys had been caught looking at child pornography and 20 had been prosecuted since 1997. In total, New Zealand has received convictions in 155 of the child pornography cases it has prosecuted.
Young offenders were often let off without prosecution in favor of allowing them to pursue psychological counseling, Manch said.
“The parents of young offenders are encouraged to access counseling through their GPs,” Manch said on National Radio. “We are not aware of any of them having offended again.”
According to Manch, most of the teenage offenders were experimenting when they came across the material.
New Zealand’s statistics are at odds with numbers reported by the New Hampshire-based Crimes Against Children Research Center, and the U.S. government’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. They say that only 3 percent of offenders are 17 years old or younger, and the largest group of offenders — some 45 percent — ranges in age from 26 to 39 years old, followed closely by the 40 and over category that represents 41 percent of offenders.