• Marisa Zeppieri-Caruana

Child Pornography 101

While child sexual abuse and child pornography are not easy topics to discuss, being educated on the topics is crucial. Child pornography cases continue to increase, and while it is an alarming global issue, you might be surprised to learn America is the one of the largest consumers and producers of this type of content. You may also be wondering what exactly constitutes as child pornography? The official definition of the terms is “any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age).” These visual depictions can come in a form of media including photos, videos, and digital or computer generated images. In recent years, another popular child pornography visual depiction has gained popularity – live sexual abuse of a child that is watched by someone over the Internet through a video streaming service. This type of criminal act has become difficult for law enforcement to uncover, as the majority of the evidence is gone after the video has ended.

If you are appalled or infuriated by the information you just read, you are not alone. Many people are unaware these acts against children are even taking place every single day across the globe, highlighting the need for increased awareness, and for law enforcement and organizations to have the resources they need to find the perpetrators.

Child Pornography – Know the Numbers

Think child pornography isn’t happening in your neighborhood, or could never happen to your child or a child you know? Take a look at the latest statistics.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:

  • Since 2005, there has been a 774% increase in child pornography images and videos reviewed by the center’s Child Victim Identification Program.

  • As of the end of 2012, the Center has reviewed over 80 million child pornography images since its inception in 2002.

According to We Are Thorn:

  • 42% of sextortion victims met their abuser online. We Are Thorn defines sextortion as: “Sextortion is a form of sexual exploitation where one individual threatens to reveal sexually explicit images of another person unless that person meets specific demands. The perpetrator may have obtained the images in multiple ways. They may have hacked a device, or recorded an image without consent. In some cases, the image may have been shared consensually. Regardless of how the image was obtained, if the sharing of that image is not consensual, the perpetrator is engaging in an act of abuse by using intimate images to exploit the victim.”

According to the Internet Watch Foundation:

  • 92% of all child sexual abuse URLs we identified globally in 2016 were hosted in these five countries: Netherlands, UNITED STATES, Canada, France & Russia. (U.S. was ranked 2nd)

  • Thousands of law enforcement officials around the world work undercover every day to arrest those involved in the production or consumption of child pornography. Most recently, in May of this year, 900 people were arrested and 296 children were rescued from a global pornography ring. The ring began when 58 year old Steven Chase of Naples Florida started a website called Playpen. Playpen, which was available through hidden service websites commonly known as The Dark Web, had over 150,000 videos and pictures of young child pornography victims, each one indexed by sex, age and type of sexual activity. Chase was sentenced recently to 30 years in prison.

Resources to Learn More

With 95% of sexual abuse being preventable through education, it is important for everyone to learn as much as possible on this topic in order to share it with others. Many resources are available to understand more about child pornography, know what steps to take to prevent it from happening, and how to report it to officials.

Parents can safeguard their children by taking one of the Trees of Hope Prevention Workshops (SAP). A coloring book is also in the process of being produced and will become a helpful tool in talking about this serious topic with children.

Other organizations to check out include:

Thorn - www.Wearethorn.org

The Child Rescue Coalitionwww.Childrescuecoalition.org

And Enough is Enoughwww.Enough.org

To learn more about child pornography and sexual abuse, or our workshops for teens and adults, visit www.TreesofHope.org

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