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:
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.