By Robert T. DeMarco
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.
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.
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.