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The War on Child Pornography, What to do?

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The War on Child Pornography, What to do?
By Robert T DeMarco

Third in a series of articles about Internet Crimes Against Children.

If you are a parent of a child between the ages of 10-17 it is likely that your child is receiving unsolicited pornographic images. These are typically sent by “bots” to everyone who enters a chat room where children congregate. If you don’t believe this then all you need to do is set up a profile describing yourself as a 14 year old and start entering a few chat rooms. It will not be long before you will start getting bombarded by unsolicited instant messages (IMs) with embedded hyperlinks that lead to pornography. It also won’t be long before you receive IMs from anonymous strangers asking you what you are wearing and asking questions of a sexual nature. Some of these anonymous strangers are adults disguised as kids looking for vulnerable or inquisitive kids. When this occurs you become a candidate for a more sinister and illegal form of pornography—child pornography.

Recently, I wrote a series of articles about pedophilia and child pornography on the Internet. As a result, many people asked me to write an article about what to do when a child receives a pornographic image or a sexual solicitation while on the Internet. There are three good ways to deal with this problem: use the CyberTipline offered by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), contact the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) unit near you, or call your local law enforcement department and ask for the Internet crimes unit. I will explain the importance of taking action below.

The best way to report a crime against a child is by using the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline. The CyberTipline contains unique categories for:

• Possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography
• unsolicited obscene material sent to a child
• online enticement of children for sexual acts
• child prostitution
• and, child sexual molestation (not in the family)

While each report section asks for specific information it is important to try and capture the information when you first notice the problem. Where did the incident occur (which ISP, which domain name)? The screen name or email address of the perpetrator. And to copy any email, instant message, or the image if it is separate from a webpage (if it comes as an attachment).

NCMEC maintains a very sophisticated database in conjunction with the FBI. By sending the image to them, you could accomplish more than you might imagine. The FBI has a specific methodology of examining each image. In effect, each image is like a partial fingerprint. If they can associate a series of images they might actually be able to identify a specific place where the image was taken (a state, city, or country). Over time as they collect information they can narrow the geographic area to the point where they can then get the picture of the child to local law enforcement which then might be able to identify the child and identify the perpetrator of the crime. So while it will take several minutes to report the incident you might be the one person who helps save the life and future of the victim—the child. In 2003, NCMEC received more than 200,000 images via its CyberTipline. I can assure you only a tiny fraction of parents are aware of this resource.

If you prefer you can locate the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force near you. The detectives that work in these units are specifically trained to handle crimes against children. In some cases, they might want to assume the identity (screen name persona) of your child with the express purpose of bringing the perpetrator of the crime into the real world where the “perp” will be arrested.

The easiest, but not necessarily the most effective action, is to call your local police department and ask for the Internet crimes department. If they don’t have the appropriate person on staff, they will know what to do next.

While I know that the detectives working in Internet crime unit are doing a great job, I also know they are buried under a never ending and still growing number of cases. Over time I have come to believe that one of the most effective ways to combat this sinister problem is get more parents and teachers involved. I will continue to write on this issue and explain my growing belief that teachers might be the most effective deterrent to these perpetrators of crimes against children. I’ll tackle that issue shortly.

If you are interested in reading more on this issue go to Watch Right Internet Crimes Against Children Weblog

Teachers, parents and law enforcement agencies can get a free syndicated news feed for their Home Pages at Watch Right Internet Crimes Against Children Syndicated Feed

About the Author

Robert T DeMarco is CEO of IP Group in Herndon VA. IP Group offers software communication tools for use on the Internet. These include: PowerTools, Watch Right, Always on Time and IM Frame. Mr. DeMarco is the author/editor of several Weblogs and is also a member of the High Tech Crimes Industry Association (HTCIA).

Robert T DeMarco
Send me Email

Other Resources and Blogs

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation
U.S. Customs Child Pornography Enforcement Program

All American Investor Weblog
AOL Crimes Against Children Journal

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About Bob DeMarco

  • Geesh… No where do I see it mentioned:

    Monitor what your child is doing on the internet.

    Take personal responsibility.

    If you don’t teach your child not to take candy from strangers or leave them in the middle of a theme park without supervision, what do you think is going to happen?

    This is nothing new… the new part is people wanting to take less personal responsibility. If you are going to breed and spawn then you are responsible for taking care of that child YOURSELF. Its not my job, your neighbor’s job or the government’s job. If you don’t have the time to watch what your kid is doing on the internet, perhaps you shouldn’t have had a kid.

    My mother didn’t let me do whatever I wanted and told me no was no and I couldn’t watch whatever I wanted on tv, hang out wherever.

    This is almost as bad as being in Britain which has this obsession with pedophiles are lurking in every pantry.

    God forbid parents ever accept some responsibility in this day and age.

    Welcome to drive through parenting.

  • boomcrashbaby

    Ms. Tek, you are welcome to baby sit in this house anytime you want. 🙂

    When I first got on the net, I went to chat rooms, well.. to chat. Now that I know what they are like, all I can say is if my daughter wants to talk with someone, she can use the phone.

    Same thing applies to the tube. If I don’t want my daughter to see something, I will monitor it, I don’t need America to sanitize every channel and make it kid friendly, so I can let the tv raise my kid. Then daddy has nothing fun to watch.

  • haha… BCB… most parents seem to be afraid that I am going to run off with their children and get them tattooed.

  • RE: Geesh… No where do I see it mentioned:Monitor what your child is doing on the internet

    Patience. I am working my way to an article which should create some controversy. “Should Parents Monitor the Behavior of their Children on the Internet?”

    I can tell you already, sometimes the “spit” flows on that issue.

  • boomcrashbaby

    Hmm, well since daddy’s got a tattoo or two of his own, I couldn’t really complain could I? She loves butterflies and Elmo from Sesame Street. Since tattooes are permanent, daddy votes for the butterfly.

  • No worries.

    No tattoos until 18. =)