“Problem of child porn ‘bigger than most people would like to believe'” by Dan D’ambrosio

A police officer and attorney from the state of Vermont share their experiences prosecuting child pornography perpetrators from all over the world. Dan D’ambrosio describes the ways technology faciliates crimes against adults and children, and solutions to help combat the tragedy. This is an excerpt from a recent article published by The Burlington Free Press. The source of this excerpt is http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2014/06/02/vermont-child-pornography/9790107/

A police lieutenant pretending to be a 14-year-old girl talks with people on instant messenger during the unveiling of a new CyberCrimes office in Florida in 2008. Vermont authorities say child pornography is a significant problem in the state. Image courtesy of the Burlington Free Press.

A police lieutenant pretending to be a 14-year-old girl talks with people on instant messenger during the unveiling of a new CyberCrimes office in Florida in 2008. Vermont authorities say child pornography is a significant problem in the state. Image courtesy of the Burlington Free Press.

South Burlington Police Sgt. Andrew Chaulk of the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and Assistant U.S. Attorney for Vermont Barbara Masterson, Project Safe Child coordinator in the federal prosecutor’s office, are on the front lines of dealing with the “horrific trauma” of child pornography, as Masterson puts it.

[…]

AC: I really think it’s the advances in technology that make this material very easy to obtain. If there were no computers or the Internet this material would still be around, it would just be harder to find and obtain. What once required offenders to mail child exploitation material or trade it with others in person, the Internet now allows these transactions to occur within the privacy of someone’s home, office on their cellphone, etc.

If you know where to look on the Internet, you can find large amounts of images and movies of children being sexually abused. This issue cuts across all groups. The offenders are almost always male, but other than that they can be from any walk of life, any profession, any religion, etc.

[…]

BM: A less obvious problem, however, is that sex offenders use the social aspects of the Internet to meet other people who share the same interest. In 1985, if you were sexually attracted to a child, there were not many outlets by which you could identify similarly minded people, and the dominant cultural forces inhibited your acting on those impulses. Today, however, groups of pedophiles can readily identify one another online and begin not to deter one another, but to reinforce and encourage one another’s worst instincts. This not only increases the probability of people trafficking in images of child pornography, but increases the danger that some of these people will act out on children and/or produce new child pornography.

[…]

AC: This whole issue is not something that is going to abruptly stop. To some degree, it’s a supply and demand issue. Where there is a desire for this material, there will always be a steady supply of people who will victimize children to meet that demand.

I can’t stress enough that technology has made these crimes flourish. People with relative anonymity can surf areas of the Internet, find others who also have a sexual interest in children and talk about it, trade images and movies all in private, away from family, friends and co-workers.

[…]

BM: We must both in law and in the broader culture make clear that this is a line of conduct that we will not tolerate people crossing.

This is a significantly shortened excerpt. To read the full article, please visit the Burlington Free Press website http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/local/2014/06/02/vermont-child-pornography/9790107/

Dan D’ambrosio is a reporter for the Burlington Free Press.