Child pornography- available without restriction
Child pornography in Jackson again
In the past few days an all too familiar headline has run in local papers and online sites as child pornography has again captivated our discussions. Few issues can raise the ire of a community quicker, or stir emotions as deep in our souls. And rightfully so. It seems that not a day goes by without a neighbor, public servant or once respected member of the community being accused and charged with a crime against children.
Two weeks earlier twenty seven were arrested in a state-wide sweep by the NJ State Police that stretched across all corners of the state, and ages from 17 to 66. February saw the arrest of a single Jackson resident charged with one count of distribution. In March of 2006 a 14 year old girl in Passaic County New Jersey girl was accused of child pornography for posting nearly 30 explicit nude pictures of herself on MySpace.com — charges that could force her to register as a sex offender if convicted.
Defining the crime
Child pornography refers to images or films depicting sexually explicit activities involving a child; as such, child pornography is a visual record of child sexual abuse. Abuse of the child occurs during the sexual acts which are photographed in the production of child pornography, and the effects of the abuse on the child (and continuing into maturity) are compounded by the wide distribution and lasting availability of the photographs of the abuse.
In both common usage and for research purposes, the word “child” in the phrase “child pornography” refers to prepubescent children, and does not (as the legal use would) include post-pubertal minors, such as teenagers under the age of majority. Most possessors of child pornography who are arrested are found to possess images of prepubescent children; possessors of pornographic images of post-puberty minors are less likely to be prosecuted, even though those images also fall within the statutes.
Child pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and among the fastest growing criminal segments on the Internet, according to the USA The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and other international sources. New technology such as inexpensive digital cameras and Internet distribution has made it easier than ever before to produce and distribute child pornography.
Easy access, no restrictions
The internet has opened up a world of information and a whole new realm of communication. It also facilitates the darker side of the human psyche, and has provided a venue for people who exploit children for gratification and monetary gain. It's hard to estimate how large the market is for child porn. The users aren't an easily identifiable group, coming as they do from all classes and backgrounds.
In Toronto a popular priest known for his outreach work on behalf of the poor who was arrested after images of children were found on his computer. A former California University dean was nabbed with 15,000 child porn images. A trusted sports photographer was arrested in Indiana after falling asleep with his laptop on, displaying pornographic images involving children.
It gets even more sinister. There are those who are willing to pay to see live streaming of videos that show assaults on children. A few years ago law enforcement broke up a ring and arrested 27 in Canada, the US, Britain and Australia that were providing and viewing live streams.
Can it get worse than that? The sickening truth is that it can.
In 2005 a human monster by name Dmitri Vladimirovich Kuznetsov was arrested in Russia. The charge? Luring children, many of them orphans, in order to torture and murder them on video. During the two years he was actively engaged in producing videos, Kuznetzov lured some 100 kids to his apartment. Reports are not clear on how many of these children were killed, because he used some of them to recruit others.
What adds to the revulsion is the fact that the police obtained evidence against some 500 people in Europe who were willing and eager customers. Among the suspects were academics, businessmen and public employees, many of them with children of their own. The police intercepted 3,000 of Kuznetzov's videos en route to destinations in Europe.
Given the pathological nature of child pornography and the children it has victimized around the world, I was surprised that many in the internet community in The US have outright refused to place constraints on the Internet that would filter confirmed sites from being accessed by anyone in the country. By comparison, in 2005 Canadian internet service providers introduced a plan to work together on blocking child porn . I don't welcome censorship lightly, but on this issue there surely should be an exception. It is a risk worth taking.
Many were conflicted, given that smart operators can always find loopholes such as proxy servers on foreign shores. Despite the controversy, Canadian Internet giants Rogers, Shaw, Videotron, Telus, Bell and MTS Allstream moved forward with Cybertip.ca.
In 2005 they formed an alliance that would voluntarily filter out child porn websites in an operation named Cleanfeed Canada. Since the launch another milestone was reached when in 2011 the Canadian Parliament enacted Bill C-22, which made the reporting of Internet child pornography by persons who provide an Internet service mandatory. It became illegal to accept, transport or deliver child pornography using the Internet in Canada. No such law exists in the United States.
Calling it what it is
More needs to be done also on the definition of child porn. A lot of it gets passed off as "artistic rendering", and this makes it harder to prosecute than images that are obviously sexual in nature.
Laws should be tightened to target pornographers who exploit minors online, whether or not the rendering is "artistic". Young children are unable to give their consent and those who use innocent images in an implicitly pornographic fashion are objectifying kids as sexual commodities. This is wrong by any civilized standard because it robs the child of dignity and in later life could become a profound source of personal hurt.
On Thursday morning (April 26, 2012)Jackson Mayor Michael Reina placed the following post on his Facebook page:
"Stop calling it child porn. It the rape, torture, imprisoning and destruction of a child's life. Pornography is adult theme, children do not participate in pornography folks they are forcibly made to. This must be clarified so that lawmakers address these heinous acts with the most harshest punishments period to anyone who is involved, viewing or otherwise, enough already!"
The work to root out child porn is made more difficult by misconceptions, misdirection and the common use of models that look underage in the production of legitimate adult-oriented material. It is common that complaints to police concerning suspected child porn, turns out to be legal products featuring young looking models. It is legal in the States and Canada for porn sites to feature models in the 18 to 20 range.
To ensure that a site is legal and that all models are of legal age, sites are required to post verification which can usually be found at the bottom of the main page. It shows the "18 U.S.C. Section 2257 Compliance Notice" which indicates the site keeps up-to-date records that should demonstrate legal age requirements are met by all models that appear on the site. This requirement makes it difficult for a defendant to claim ignorance when being charged with child pornography.
Limiting unwanted websites in your home
Nearly all modern browsers have settings that can filter or restrict unwanted websites. They may take some time to set up and get tuned just right, but the benefits are there. You can also download Microsoft’s free Windows Live Family Safety 2011 for both web filtering and monitoring.
If you have your own router in the home it may have functions that restrict unwanted websites from the whole house at the same time. Some ISPs also provide this through an on-line portal that lets you set your desired parameters.
If you believe you have knowledge of someone that is receiving, distributing or manufacturing child pornography, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has a form to report an incident. They will get the information to the proper agency. But as always, if you know of a child in immeidate danger, dial 911 to report the problem.
- Jackson Record Staff Report