Child Porn Online the Pedophiles Playground Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2918 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 19  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Children

Child Porn Online: the Pedophiles' Playground

Child pornography, pedophiles and child sexual abuse have been around for centuries on a limited scale, but the proliferation of the Internet in recent years has provided the pedophiles a convenient tool to expand their activities manifold. Despite efforts at crackdown by crime fighting agencies and concerned citizens against the scourge of pedophilia, easy access to the Internet and its global reach has made effective policing difficult. Child porn online, thus, continues to thrive -- making the Internet a virtual playground for the pedophiles. In this paper I shall discuss how the Internet has made child porn so accessible to pedophiles; how this easy access to child porn has created an escalation in crimes against children; what is being done by the law to remedy the problem; what role can the parents play in protecting their children from online predators and what are the warning signs that a child is being manipulated by someone older online in an inappropriate manner.

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Term Paper on Child Porn Online the Pedophiles Playground Assignment

The Internet is no doubt a great resource for education, communication, research, business, and entertainment that has grown at a breakneck pace ever since the debut of the first commercial web browser in 1994. According to one study conducted in December 2004, about 60% of Americans are now connected to the Internet with the average user spending close to 3 hours per day online. (Nie, et al., 2004) the children too have widespread access to the Internet at school and at home. Unfortunately, easy accessibility to the Internet has its downside. It makes the children vulnerable to exploitation by predatory pedophiles lurking in what the U.S. Attorney General, John Ashcroft described as "the dark corners of cyberspace." (Quoted by Magid, 2002) Before the mass advent of the Internet, most child predators stalked their victims in public places such as schoolyards, playgrounds, and shopping malls. Nowadays, with such a large number of children online, most predators target children for criminal acts in cyberspace. Young children and teenagers are considered relatively "soft" targets by the pedophiles since they are "often trusting, naive, curious, adventuresome, and eager for attention and affection" besides the fact that children and teenagers have historically not been viewed as credible witnesses. Moreover, the anonymity of the Internet eliminates many of the risks that predators previously faced while attempting to make contact with children in person. ("Internet Crimes..." 2001) Research has shown that about 25% of the children who use the Internet regularly are at some stage approached by strangers for unwanted sexual advances. While a majority of older children manage to nip such advances in the bud by cutting off the approach from strangers, many naive and vulnerable younger children can fall victim to such predators. (Ibid.)

Apart from making their approach to children easier while remaining anonymous, the Internet also enables the pedophiles to communicate with people with similar interest and to exchange their collections of Child pornography with relative ease. This online communication by the pedophiles serves a two-fold purpose. One, it enables the exchange and transaction of child porn (sexually explicit photos and videos of children) by individual pedophiles as well as organized crime. Two, by connecting to people with similar interest, the pedophile fulfills his psychological need of feeling "normal," i.e., he is not alone in being sexually attracted to young children. This feeling of "belonging to a larger community" is an important psychological boost for such perverted people since, before the advent of the Internet, most pedophiles felt isolated and marginalized as they could not air their sexual preferences openly in the communities where they lived. The "anonymity, convenience and this ease of dissemination and collection" explain the expanding use of the Internet for child porn business and it is no surprise that most studies about pedophilia indicate that as much as 75% or more of all child pornography is found and traded over the Internet. (Rachel O'Connell, quoted in "New Aspects of Pornography...")

Child Porn Creates Escalation in Crimes against Children

There is no single type of pedophile and the behavior of each individual who is sexually attracted to children may vary. Some pedophiles are sexually attracted to young children but restrain themselves from practically acting out their fantasies (and hence do not commit a crime) because they either feel a sense of shame or because they are afraid of being caught. However, a majority of pedophiles who approach children (whether in person or on the Internet) or engage in exchange or transaction of child porn are guilty of a criminal act and a number of studies have shown that there is a definite co-relation between easy access to child porn and the escalation in crimes against children.

As the Internet provides a convenient means of communication of pedophiles and the delivery / exchange of child porn, it has given a tremendous boost to the demand (and hence, supply) for child porn around the world. The "supply" is primarily catered for by the sex-trade involving young children, mostly from the poor underdeveloped countries. The Human Rights Watch estimates that there are a million child prostitutes (children 17 and younger) in India alone, followed by Thailand: 800,000 child prostitutes, Brazil: 250,000, and Philippines: 60,000. Many of these child prostitutes are exploited for child pornography and UNICEF, conservatively, puts the figure of such children at approximately two million. ("The Unknown Crisis..." 2004) Before the advent of the Internet, large organized criminal set-ups were required to produce child pornography but the reduced cost of Personal Computers, digital cameras and easy accessibility to the Internet has enabled the child porn enterprise to evolve into a "cottage industry." Nowadays, it does not take a significant amount of capital or resources to set up and produce child porn -one of the reasons why the menace has increased by leaps and bounds in recent times. Crimes against poor, vulnerable children have escalated since the clientele for child porn (via the Internet) has multiplied several-fold. Pictures depicting sexual acts of the most brutal kind involving children have been circulated over the Internet. As an example, a 40 seconds long video clip was discovered on the Internet recently in which two perverts have sex with a young girl and then stab her, cutting off her ears and smashing her eyes. Investigations revealed that the cruelty depicted in the film was not faked but was real when the producers of the clip were eventually traced in a South East Asian country. (Saytarly, 2004)

There is a misconception among some people, that the activity of pedophiles over the Internet is relatively harmless since it does not involve physical contact between adults and children. This is far from the truth. Activities such as possessing, selling, receiving, reproducing, exchanging, sending or transmitting child pornography over the Internet constitute a crime according to U.S. federal law. This is because patronage of child porn on the Internet results in escalation of sex crime against children, a boost to the child porn industry and causes immense psychological harm to those children who are approached by predators on the net.

Research has shown that a number of pedophiles lurk in chat-rooms often posing as children themselves in order to befriend children with ulterior motives. Their modus operandi typically consists of approaching children in chat-rooms, gaining their confidence by engaging them in conversation about their interests and hobbies and gradually introducing them to pornography by showing them pictures of children engaged in sexual activity. If successful in convincing them that there was nothing wrong in engaging in sexual acts, these predators encourage the children to exchange photos and/or try to set up meetings with them for sexual acts. Dedicated pedophiles are known to go to great lengths to set up such meetings with children. Once successful in meeting with children contacted on the Internet, the pedophile may engage in a variety of sexual behavior ranging from gentle fondling, undressing the child, exposing himself, masturbating in the presence of the child to more bizarre and violent acts such as physical beating, forced oral sex and rape. All of them are serious crimes.

What Is Being Done by the Law to Remedy the Problem?

Sections 2251, 2252 and 2260 of Title 18 of United States Code deems the "production (or aiding in the production of), advertising or soliciting for, possessing, selling, receiving, reproducing, exchanging, sending or transmitting (by mail or via computer) of child pornography" as criminal acts. ("FAQ on Child Pornography..." 2004) These laws prohibit knowingly possessing child porn images stored on a computer hard drive or disk and knowingly transmitting and receiving child pornography via the internet or electronic mail. (Ibid)

The federal Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 also included a provision that banned "virtual" child pornography (i.e., visual depictions of what "appeared to be" minors, even if it could not be proven that the depictions were of actual children). The United States Supreme Court, however, struck down this prohibition in Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (April… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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