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By Doris MacFarquhar

Column: Online child abuse is a widespread, common problem that we must confront now

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Law enforcement needs more funding to find and stop perpetrators

By Andrew Harris, graphic from LaurensKids.org

What a terrible thing this is to write about. How did this become necessary, unavoidable, and part of our daily life ? Arrests for child pornography are as common as DWI or drug trafficking. Law enforcement admit they are just able to arrest the “tip of the iceberg.”

If you read our news feed you have noticed that crimes against children are normal, almost daily “stories” on our site. Child abuse of all kinds, especially of a sexual nature, are common reports by all levels of law enforcement. Abuse in the form of child pornography is rampant and in my opinion, needs to become a public policy and funding priority.

Politicians love to refer to failings in our society as a “disgrace,” or “crisis,” or other terms of false urgency. I’ve never heard consistent language from any elected official about the disgrace of child pornography and the exploitations which make it a daily reality. Considering the levity of the crime and how widespread child pornography has become, it should be an emergency.

Children being forced to perform adult sex acts on video. Downloaded by many to watch, shared, and sold throughout the underworld of the internet. This is as, or more depraved than murder. This is killing the soul of a child, seriously harming children who will never fully recover. The people behind the creation of these videos should be public enemy #1. The people who download, purchase, or watch these videos should be public enemy #2.

Law enforcement are well aware of the dangers and are working hard with the resources available. The public seems to be in denial about the nature of the problem.

Every law enforcement official that I have ever talked to about the subject says the same thing, more or less: We only see the tip of the iceberg, and 7/8 of an iceberg is underwater. One trusted source made the analogy of a major 65mph highway:

“Police only pull over a fraction of speeders, the more blatant offenders being the priority. For every vehicle ticketed, dozens drive by committing the same infraction. The internet is a highway of child abusers who traffic in pornography and law enforcement is only able prosecute the priority offenders.”

That analogy is disturbing to say the least, but important for everyone to understand fully. This is a systemic, widespread horror. Even in little Allegany County, the perpetrators and victims are people we see everyday. After I drop my kids off at school, I watch a long line of little ones filing off the school bus and into school for the day with a sense of dread knowing many victims are in grade school. Statistically, some of those kids are being abused.

How can we stop this and protect children from this scourge ?

  • Law enforcement needs more funding, training, and overall resources to fight this fight. Our economy is massive, I’d start with suggesting that we start shifting corporate subsidies and tax breaks into law enforcement budgets and public information campaigns. Fund the Police.
  • Increase punishments for the sick individuals who participate in child abuse via pornography. Personally the death penalty seems appropriate. Treat these people like child killers, because they might as well be.
  • For the love of all that is logical, monitor your kids social media and internet use. I am guilty of being lax about monitoring my children online but plan to pay of for monitoring software(Qustodio gets great reviews and only $100/year.) This is the main portal for this form of child abuse and the data is clear on how harmful social media is to young minds. As a parent I fully understand this is not as easy as it sounds, but absolutely necessary. Every single law enforcement officer having experience with these crimes will echo this imperative.
  • Eyes wide open! Watch for signs of abuse, watch for potential threats, and SAY SOMETHING! Talk to your children openly about this danger frequently, remind them how real the danger is. Are you concerned about a non-family member? As awkward as it can be, the alternative is unimaginable so you must SAY SOMETHING.
  • Report any suspected child pornography production, promotion, possession to the police immediately. If you don’t know who to call, dial 911, this is an emergency.
  • National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s CyberTipline Hours: 24-Hours Hotline 800-843-5678
https://www.qustodio.com/en/
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