Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Should I Report Child Pornography?

by Heather Steele, Child Sexual Abuse Advocate

There is almost nothing that can provoke despair and shock as powerfully as the discovery of
child sexual abuse images on a computer, iPod, or cell phone of a loved one. Women often confide to me—at presentations, networking events, and cocktail parties—that they have found in their own homes disturbing and revolting images of children being sexually abused.

Apparently, finding child pornography happens to a lot of women.

Many confront their loved one, who is ready for such a circumstance with just the right words of persuasion. Maybe he says the images came from a virus. Or he viewed them just once, they have to do with his abuse as a child, or that he was lured from adult porn sites into child pornography sites progressively. Or perhaps he confesses that he knows his behavior was wrong and will do anything, including therapy, to become healthy. Of course, he swears, he would never touch a child or harm one in any way.

Some women choose to believe these manipulations, preferring to deny the truth of what they have seen. Others remove themselves through separation or divorce.

Yet few find the courage to report the images to the police.

They feel like they can’t bear the public shame, the shock and horror of friends and neighbors, or the pain of seeing a loved one arrested. After all, he was just looking, right? And the children in the pictures are thousands of miles away in
Russia or Thailand, right?


As painful as discovering the images may have been, the truth is far more agonizing.

In fact, those images are evidence photos of children, mostly American children, some as young as infants, in the act of being raped, often brutally.

The U.S. produces 55% of child pornography in the world, and demands even more than it manufactures, making it by far the largest producer and consumer of child sexual abuse images in the world.

Those kids in the photos? They could be yours, or your friends’, or your neighbors’. They are definitely American children, children we as adults are responsible for protecting.

Their abusers? Their fathers, uncles, grandfathers, teachers, coaches, babysitters, youth pastors, troop leaders, or a variety of other trusted adults in our communities.

If child pornography is reported to the police, those kids have a chance of being rescued from the most heinous abuse known to man.

If it’s not, these American kids may never have another chance to escape their living hell.

And viewers of these rape images of our children? There’s a 98% chance he’s taking part in exactly the same type of abuse he loves to watch.

Studies of child pornography possessors in
Butner Federal Prison (pictured right) in North Carolina in 2000 and 2006, by Drs. Andres Hernandez and Michael Bourke, show beyond the shadow of a doubt that the vast majority of child sexual abuse image possessors molest children:

Eighty-five percent of possessors in the study admitted to having undiscovered child sexual assault victims; 13% denied having victims, but failed a polygraph at the end of the study; and 2% denied having victims, and passed the polygraph—but admitted if the opportunity had presented itself, they would have sexually abused a child.

Those 85% admitting victims had on average 14 victims before they were incarcerated for child pornography. In the 2000 study, 31 child victims were the average for child pornography possessors, three times as many as those incarcerated for child molestation.

So reporting child pornography saves American children, perhaps even children you know and love.

But even more than that, reporting child pornography saves you. It saves you from a life of shame and guilt, knowing that you could have stopped some child’s nightmare and you didn’t. It saves you by knowing that you did the right thing by helping put a child predator out of commission. And it saves you from becoming an accessory to the rape of even more children in the future.

Because if you don’t report child pornography, you enable
child molesters to continue to do what they do best unencumbered and without fear of punishment. And you will never be able to wash away that knowledge. Who should you tell? No matter where you live, you can contact the FBI, which heads up the Innocent Images International Task Force. Click here for the Cyber Tipline or call 1-800-843-5678.

Believe me, as one who knows. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I work to rescue more kids through
Innocent Justice, it will never wash away. I experience that unclean feeling every day of my life. I hope you will never have to.

Heather Steele earned her MBA from the University of Chicago and is a passionate advocate for children in the fight to prevent child sexual abuse and provide justice for child victims. Heather is President of the Innocent Justice Foundation, which works to support law enforcement in investigating and prosecuting child pornography crimes.


FleaStiff said...

>Apparently, finding child pornography happens to a lot of women.
>Yet few find the courage to report the images to the police.

Well, if FEW report it to the police then how do you know that it happens to A LOT of women? Much less how is this knowledge that you have gained "apparent"? Tea leaves? Murky crystal ball?

85Percent? Well, if you start off your research with prison inmates your "selection bias" is rather obvious, particularly when prisoners wish to avoid the monotony of their day by telling the investigators what they want to hear.

>who is ready for such a circumstance with just the right words of persuasion.
Perhaps his well-rehearsed words are just a delaying tactic, but the issues are real and are valid.
Viruses and malware do exist and I think it was criminal of DA Lacy to have the slightest concern about abuse of children in Thailand. That is not what Bouldarians pay taxes for. I would certainly fund the Boulder dog pound before funding a child abuse eradication program in Thailand.

Rj said...

I'm sorry but I totally did NOT understand the comment posted above.

Second, reporting pornography to the police gets the little people arrested...not the big dogs in the production arena...they are protected by very large agencies in the U.S...that's why is continues to go on while some organizations give lip service to "tracking down" the perpetrators.

Please contact me off post, whomever wrote this article...

Kat256c said...

IMHO that comment by FleaStiff is one of the reasons we will have a hard time combating sexual abuse of children. FleaStiff obviously did not take the time to actually read the post! Do you think children in Thailand or Russia are less human than children in the U.S. making it okay to view those images. Take off your rose colored glasses and wake up to the fact that our children are in danger. I would not hesitate to turn anyone in that has child porn on their computer, cellphone or any other medium. I don't care who they are or how embarrassing it might be, it could save the next victim and that is what matters to me.

piper said...

FleaStiff -- you frequently leave comments that disturb me, and this one is no exception.

If there is anyway to prevent a child from suffering through any abuse, and especially sexual abuse, count me in. To me, it's not about the little people or the big dogs, it's about saving the children.

Every child sexual abuser off the street is one step closer to protecting a child.

Jan said...

It should be the business of every adult to stand between a child and harm - any child. Just as we should not tolerate any kind of domestic abuse. I am disturbed that so many of us close our eyes to the misery and pain in our own backyard. Until we learn to open our eyes to that reality, how can we ever hope to put a stop to such things? Wouldn't you put out your hand to stop a child from walking in front of a speeding bus? Harm is harm.

Rj said...

@ piper, it IS about the BIG DOGS..if you want to stop it, you have to find the big dogs. Looky-loos are no more likely to be running the schemes as they are the average men, who are not child abusers. Bottom up is not working and has not ever worked...don't you see?

FleaStiff said...

>Do you think children in Thailand or Russia are less human than children in the U.S.
Yes. And I think problems of any sort in Thailand should be left to the Thai to solve and are not a proper focus for Americans much less American politicians.
>making it okay to view those images.
>wake up to the fact that our children are in danger.
This much ballyhooed danger is over-exaggerated, as are most dangers.

Levi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

When I read the title of this post, "Should I Report Child Pornography?", one word immediately came to me...ALWAYS!


p.s. Good comment, Jan.

Anonymous said...


I'll bet money you're a mother.

Yes it was a good post. Educate sooner or later maybe they'll get it.

Anonymous said...

A Mom? Yes, you got that right...25 years and counting, but I would probably feel the same way about reporting this crime, even if I wasn't.


dcheryl83 said...

OMG: I hardly even know how to respond to some of this stuff. Do you people realize how many Americans actually travel to Thailand and Russia to "visit" brothels with "working" children? Child Pornography IS our problem, no matter where it originates from.

Levi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dcheryl83 said...

How does this pertain to the article we are commenting on? The subject is whether or not to report pedophiles.

Anonymous said...

The answer is 'YES!"