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Assessing the internal structure of the COPINE scale

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The COPINE scale allows standardised classification of a person's child pornography collection while taking into account contextual considerations. However, despite its frequent usage in research studies, the scale has never been empirically validated with regards to its psychometric properties. This study describes a validation design to assess reliability and construct validity of the scale while considering ethical concerns. An online survey was conducted amongst psychological staff members of Correctional Services NZ as well as postgraduate students from a New Zealand University. Participants were asked to rate verbal descriptions of each item level of the original scale according to its perceived seriousness of the offence, suggesting a higher penalty for more serious image offending. Results revealed that students and correctional staff showed high inter-rater agreement in their rankings, and that rankings increased with higher-level images as defined in the original scale. Two areas of difference to the original scale ranks were identified, concerning levels ‘Posing’ and ‘Sexual Explicit Activities’. The implications of these findings are discussed.

Keywords: COPINE scale; child pornography; sex offending; sexual abuse

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology,University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand 2: Department of Corrections, Hamilton, New Zealand

Publication date: 2013-01-01

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