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The War on Child Pornography—Who are the Victims?

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The War on Child Pornography—Who are the Victims?

By Robert T. DeMarco

The sexual victimization of children is overwhelming in magnitude, yet largely unrecognized and underreported.
Peter Banks, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

The dissemination of child pornography on the Internet is growing very fast. At the same time, internet crime against children is the fastest growing crime in America. The problem is so big that the FBI operation to combat these kinds of crimes is now second only to the fight against terrorism. FBI officials say, on their website, that the use of computers has become the most widely used technique by pedophiles to share illegal photographic images of minors and to lure children into illicit sexual relationships.

When the vast majority of Americans think about child pornography they generally think of teenagers in porn films. But the real problem focuses around images of children as young as six months old having sex with adults (Deputy’s Alleged Porn Possession Includes Infants). Since it is impossible to show these kinds of images to the public, the public remains generally unaware of the dimensions and seriousness of the problem. And, the public remains unaware that sophisticated pedophiles use these images to desensitize vulnerable children into thinking and believing these kinds of behaviors are acceptable. The dissemination and use of child pornography to victimize our children is exploding.

One of the most common mistakes made by parents is that they think it can’t happen to their kid. Often, the victims are children, who are good students, drug-free, and have solid relationships with their parents.
Thomas Spina Jr., US Attorney

It is not surprising given the lack of education that the typical adult will often dismiss this problem out of hand. About one-third of the people I speak with take the stance that there is no real problem and that the problem is being blown out of proportion. At the same time, they willing admit that they have read little about the problem and their opinion is based more on what they think then what they know.

The discussion of child pornography often focuses on the images. The real issue should be on the victims in these images—the children. This is the real issue, the children as victims. The number of victims is growing fast and these victims are unable to defend themselves.

It’s not only a picture; it’s actually a child getting sexually abused.
Detective Jose Guerra
Department of Crimes Against Children, El Paso PoliceDepartment

The following are examples of what is being done by law enforcement to combat this problem and show that the problem is large and growing.

• In 2003 alone, more than 200,000 reports of Internet-related child pornography were made to the National Center for Missing and Exploited, Children CyberTipline .

Operation Site-Key over 23,000 individuals were found to be using their credit cards to subscribe to child pornography web sites, and more than 700 arrests have been made to date (FBI and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force).

Operation Predator more than 2,000 child predators and sex offenders have been brought to justice in the first eight months since this new law enforcement program was launched (created by the Department of Homeland Security).

Operation Candyman focused on a Yahoo!E-group, an online community, whose 7,000 members uploaded, downloaded or traded images of sexually exploited children. Resulted in arrests in more than 31 states. Also found that members included: clergy, law enforcement officers, a nurse, a teacher’s aide, a school bus driver, and others entrusted with protecting, nurturing and educating the American youth (FBI Executive Assistant Director Bruce Gebhardt).

FBI’s Innocent Images National Initiative targets Internet pedophiles. Over the past few months, 112 search warrants have been executed in 31 states (April, 2004).

This article is intended to inform the public and to bring the problem into the public awareness. Please feel free to comment and to redistribute this article to parents, teachers, friends and colleagues. You can learn more about the problem and crimes against children by visiting the Watch Right Internet Crimes Against Children Weblog.

Parents, teachers, and law enforcement agencies can get a free syndicated news feed for their website 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
IP Group Inc.

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  • Michael Croft

    Sexual exploitation of children is despicable and those proven guilty of it should be punished and good laws exist to do so.

    My concern here is that we should do so without infringing the rights of adult citizens who are not violating the law.

    One of the reasons the problem (which is real) is not universally accepted is that the flag gets carried by politicians who aren’t universally trusted. If a politician fulminates against abortion, women in the army, tax exemption for Unitarians, gay marriage, gays in general, welfare, gun control, the income tax, the Clenis, nekkid statues in the halls of justice, and the internet, they’ll get support from some and ignored by others. The baby gets thrown out with the bathwater.

    Because of this, I’m generally leery of any claim by politicians that my rights must be infringed ‘for the sake of the children!’. It usually means someone wants to infringe my rights because they hate my freedom and want to cloak their authoritarianism is your fear. I just don’t believe that the only way to protect the children is preemptive destruction of everyone’s liberty. The response I have to ‘think of the children!’ is ‘no, you think of a way to protect them without all the baggage of your anti-freedom agenda, and then we’ll be able to move forward.’

    The solutions that I see proposed (like the assorted unconstitutional laws like Children Online Protection Act) seem like they’ll have no effect on the problem (due to the nature of the internet) and will instead curb our freedoms for a false sense of security and the vague comfort of ‘having done something’ about the problem. I want the opposite of what we’re being offered: a solution that will actually curb the problem without curbing freedoms. Freedoms are hard to recover once they’re surrendered to the fearmongers.

    I think this is good information, but because it’s incomplete it’s potentially misleading. It discusses arrests, search warrants, and reports, but those aren’t convictions. Arrests and search warrants go up when the government increases scrutiny, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there is a real problem, just government scrutiny. File sharing warrants are at an all-time high, but that doesn’t indicate a crime wave. Salem was not an isolated incident involving a few bad apples.

    There is a very human tendency that urges actions against freedom and justice in order to provide security. It’s easy to get a gut level reaction in agreement with such appeals, but that’s not how I want public policy decided. Some solid data presented without emotional appeal is more likely to convince me that this isn’t just a screen for an attack on personal liberty.

    We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we…remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were, for the moment unpopular.
    –Edward R. Murrow, See It Now, 1954, discussing the McCarthy HUAC hearings

    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
    –H.L. Mencken (blogcritics’ favorite blind squirrel…)

    So, the stated point of the post was to raise awareness of the problem. I’m aware of the problem. Now what? Is there a way to prevent it without ordering the tide not to come in or without assaulting liberty? I hope so. Not that I know what that way is.

  • JeremyT

    Personally, I Think child molesters and those making money off running these types of websites should be sent to a muslim country where they can be dealt with.

    Im not muslim but dang atleast they got one thing right!