There are many childhood sexual abuse experts, like those over at Thorne (“Digital Defenders of Children“) who feel the term “child pornography” is a disservice to the cause of awareness of what “child sexual abuse imagery” really is; which is very real documentation of the criminal sexual victimization of children. These images are actual crime-scene photos [or videos] that are used for sexual gratification and even for profit by sick individuals. These men come from every geographic, professional, educational, and income level.
According to Section 2256 of Title 18, of the United States Code, child pornography is any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). It is a felony, and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 15-years in prison. Because of worldwide proliferation between offenders via the internet it is considered an international crime.
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) data from 2013 shows that 25% of child sex abuse content is produced by a neighbor or family friend, while 18% is produced by the child’s parent or guardian. Strikingly and of growing concern is the 14-percent growth spike in self-produced content. What’s more is the report showed an 18-percent increase in content being produced by offenders being enticed online to further offend.
Since 2002, the NCMEC has reviewed more than 138 million child sexual abuse images and videos at the request of law enforcement. Their Child Recognition and Identification System (CRIS) so far contains information on over 8,600 child victims who have been able to be identified by authorities.
The Un-Happily Ever After
Most people who are abused can at some point distance themselves from the past abuses they have suffered. Victims of childhood sexual abuse that includes exploitation through any imagery, suffer an abuse that never ends. Like baseball trading cards, these images are viewed, collected and even organized into “series” by untold numbers of offenders for years to come.
Too easily we disassociate our mental images from the reality of things we find unpleasant. To get a better understanding of what these (almost exclusively) men are looking at, here is the NCMEC Data* breakdown from January 1, 2007 – December 31, 2011.
- 84% of the series contained images depicting oral copulation.
- 76% of the series contained images depicting anal and/or vaginal penetration.
- 52% of the series contained images depicting the use of foreign objects or sexual devices.
- 44% of the series contained images depicting bondage and/or sado-masochism.
- 20% of the series contained images depicting urination and/or defecation.
- 4% of the series contained images depicting bestiality.
*The percentages do not add up to 100% because some series contain images depicting conduct in multiple categories.
Child sex-crime imagery “Collectors” try to get each image available in a victim’s series, A series could be a few images to hundreds and may be composed of images depicting the acts listed above as well as images of the same child, fully clothed and in regular settings. A series may also include multiple child victims in a single series. Victims are almost gendered half and half, with 41-percent being boys and 59-percent being girls; 64-percent depict prepubescent children.
We are really talking the majority being pedophiles here and of the child victims who have been identified by law enforcement, 77% were victimized by an adult they knew and/or trusted.
More Bad News
Child pornography is literally market-driven. There is a never-ending demand for more, and new, content. This continued demand only drives production which means even more exploitation and abuse of more children. It also leads individuals to sexually abuse children specifically for profit or even just to garner greater status among other offenders.
The rapid rise of technology gadgetry and hi-speed internet has enabled and fueled this growth.
There is both commercial and non-commercial pornography, but there is currently no way real way of knowing how many times any individual child’s sexual abuse imagery is possessed and distributed, especially online. What we do know is there is no end to their abuse. Every time an image is viewed, traded, printed or downloaded, the child (even into adulthood) is re-victimized in perpetuity as there are always new offenders.
In a victim impact statement to the court (United States v. Ward, 2:06-mj-00878 E.D. Pa. 2009), a victim — who is now an adult, expressed,
“When I was told how many people have viewed these images and videos I thought my pulse would stop. Thinking about all those sick perverts viewing my body being ravished and hurt like that makes me feel like I was raped by each and every one of them.”
This week on Challenging the Rhetoric, leading child pornography forensic expert, Frederick Lane, will be joining us on #TheGRILL. Listen LIVE WEDS. Sept. 23 @ 6pm PDT/9pm EDT or catch the archive later at the same link.
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