This is a very difficult subject to read about, and although I have devoted my career to child protection, I find it a very hard subject to write about too. The seemingly unending impact on a child as their photos and videos are circulated around the world is devastating. Concerned parents and citizens must play a role in protecting children from these crimes.
Children are harmed by child pornography. These are illegal images of child sexual abuse. One of my past blogs on this subject painted the tragic broad picture of this crime against children. It can be found at this link. 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.
The impact on the children who were victimized can be significant and long-lasting. Many children do not tell of being photographed or videotaped due to the embarrassment, guilt and shame that comes with knowing these photos will be viewed by others. Research has found that these children experience higher levels of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem, when compared to children who were sexually abused and not photographed.
It’s a huge undertaking to try to stop the victimization of these children. In 2011, law enforcement authorities in the United States turned over 22 million images and videos to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to try to identify the victims. A momentous task, but law enforcement is making inroads. The Research Center for Crimes against children reported on trends from the Third National Juvenile Online Victimization Study: