“Child Pornography: Basic Facts About a Horrific Crime” by Mary L. Pulido, Ph.D.

"Child pornography is one of the fastest growing businesses online, with estimated annual revenue of $3 billion."

by Mary L. Pulido of the Huffington Post. Please read the article in it’s entirety here.

It’s important to have a practical understanding of what child pornography is and how it’s distributed.

The Crimes Against Children Research Center is an excellent resource on trends concerning the crime of child pornography. A recent report states that “child pornography is the visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct includes acts such as intercourse, bestiality and masturbation as well as lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area. Possession of child pornography is a felony under federal law and in every state. The federal statutes that criminalize child pornography possession define ‘child’ as age 17 or younger.” A staggering statistic in this report stated that peer to peer (P2P) users (those who share images) were more likely to have images of very young children and violent images. Of P2P users arrested in 2009, 33 percent had photos of children age three or younger and 42 percent had images of children that showed sexual violence.

Child pornography is one of the fastest growing businesses online, with estimated annual revenue of $3 billion. According to the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection, child pornography is usually distributed two ways. It’s either commercial child pornography that is distributed for profit, or non-commercial child pornography that is offered free or traded among offenders, like the P2P networks. ASACP estimates that the United States has the largest share of commercialized child pornography websites with close to 50 percent of the global volume. Websites that distribute commercial child pornography offer thousands of images and videos. Most children exploited are pre-adolescent. Some children appear to have been subjected to physical as well as sexual violence.

In December 2012, the United States Sentencing Commission issued a report to Congress regarding Federal Child Pornography Offenses. This report, a multi-year undertaking, examined many aspects of child pornography, ranging from trafficking of material involving the sexual exploitation of a minor to possession; offender characteristics; to how offenders are prosecuted, sentenced, incarcerated and supervised once released. I will only give a few highlights here, as the entire report can be read here.

• All child pornography offenses, including possession are extremely serious because they result in perpetual harm to the child and validate and normalize the sexual exploitation of children.

• Child pornography victims are harmed initially during the production of the images and the perpetual nature of their distribution on the Internet causes significant additional harm to victims.

• Child pornography offenses are international crimes. The images are transmitted across the world to offenders who redistribute them. Once an image is on the Internet it’s virtually impossible to eradicate all copies. The harm to victims is lifelong.

• The constant demand for new images of children by child porn “communities” further contribute to the production of new material and thus the sexual abuse of children.

• For some offenders, child pornography is a risk factor for other sex offending against minors.

• Approximately one in three offenders had engaged in one or more types of criminal sexually dangerous behavior predating their prosecutions for non-production offenses.

I could go on, but I believe this is enough to take in during one reading. Child pornography must be stopped. It’s a very difficult battle, but those investigating and prosecuting offenders are making inroads.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mary-l-pulido-phd/child-pornography-basic-f_b_4094430.html

This article originally appeared on http://www.huffingtonpost.com on November 17th, 2013.