Child pornography is perhaps one on the most debatable social issue among most societies in the world. This practice is viewed as a vice in many places and is thus condemned. There exists a severe punishment for child pornography ranging from heavy fines to incarceration. However, as much as various authorities push for severe, punitive measures for perpetrators, the vice shows little or no signs of capsizing. This means that there are certain factors that are behind this trend in child pornography. This paper seeks to evaluate various phenomenon associated with child pornography ranging from victims, perpetrators, the law, trends of vice, and prevention. As much as the vice may sound weird to many, it is sad that it has taken a toll in a short period affecting so many minors and at the same time ironically making many millionaires. Sexual sins are among the most condemned sins. What has made child pornography that profitable to some people and detrimental to the society? Is it preventable? If yes, how?
Child pornography is defined as any visual depiction including video, photographs, images, drawing/picture, generated in whatever way including use of computers, showing sexual activity involving a child (Taylor & Quayle, 2007). The age at which an individual is considered a child varies but the most common average age is 18 years. For instance, this group is referred to as the minors in the United States of America. Child pornography was not regarded as a form of abuse until recently because it was not associated with the array of sexual abuse activities such as rape. This means that child pornography could have affected many people, thus, causing enormous damages before it was put under control. Many people could have probably suffered, whereas many perpetrators could have achieved much in abusing children sexually.
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The legal definition of child pornography varies from country to country. According to Jérôme & Urbaniok (2009, p. 44), this has lead to different interpretations as well as enforcement of efforts to fight crime. Most definitions are highly heterogeneous, meaning that they incorporate varied parameters when definining the crime. Most variations can be observed on age, sex, and social status. This means that the society has trouble in identifying the crime, thus making it hard to tackle it. Such confusions can also help perpetrators in disguising themselves, thus making it quite challenging in identifying and apprehending them.
Despite the fact that child pornography is receiving more attention from different groups in society such as the media, government, etc, a significant gap exists in establishing the exact scoop of the crime. The terms child and pornography are confusing. The manner in which the society defines a child is contradicting the circumstantial evidence based on sexual activity among the people. This is because the age at which people are becoming sexually active is dropping every day (Taylor & Quayle, 2007). Children are becoming sexually active at an unusually young age, thus demeaning the traditional definitions of a child. On the other hand, pornography is also quite challenging when it comes to its definition. Most societies have adapted the following definition - pornography is any form of obscenity linked to sexuality or sexualized behavior. Therefore, defining pornography become challenging because different people have a different perception of what obscenity can be. Therefore, the society is somehow confused about child pornography, meaning that the efforts to curb it could be jeopardized at some point. A good example of such a disparity is in the United States. Despite the fact that the vice is altogether prohibited by the federal law, there are some states which allow sexual activities with minors. However, these states prohibit any visual depiction of it.
Perpetrators of Child Pornography
Certain forces usually drive individual who engage in child pornography. Studies have shown that some perpetrators have an interest in sexual activity with prepubescent children or adolescents. This involvement is usual for fantasy or sexual gratification (Seto & Cantor, 2007). Some offenders abuse children sexually in search of new, constant sexual stimuli, meaning that they are indiscriminate in their choices. This means that their chances of succeeding with young adolescent or even children are higher given the innocence of this group. Sexual curiosity is another outstanding force behind child pornography. Perpetrators are usually determined to know what sexual parameters are associated with children. Finally, most perpetrators do child pornography for financial purposes. These offenders sell pornographic images with children as the subjects or set up web sites that require payments to access.
In November 2001, ABC news reported that a child pornography site operated by landslide production in the US had made a whopping $1.4 million dollars in one moth (Quayle and Taylor, 2007). These lamp amount came from subscribers who access the site via the Internet. This means that the society can pick some prevention tips from such attempts by perpetrators. This is because the money spent by the young people comes from parents. Therefore, parents can play a particularly crucial role in abating the crime by not giving their children excessive financial freedom.
According to Quayle and Taylor (2007, p. 5), perpetrators of child pornography come from different backgrounds. They include doctors, teachers, businesspersons, and police officers, media personalities among many other prominent and ordinary people. Offenders are usually not male only, but also females. The age of perpetrators is not specific. For instance, boys and girls as young as 13-year-old involved in distribution of pornographic materials are targeted as children. This means that senior offenders can also use children offenders to target other children. In addition, 75-year-old men have been charged with child pornography (Quayle & Taylor, 2007, p. 5). The fact that offenders are of diverse backgrounds means that the society faces another daunting task in combating it, for even identifying the offenders can be extraordinarily difficult.
Consumers of child pornography have been observed to have certain tendencies in committing the crime. Studies have revealed that people who have consumed pornographic material pose a risk of committing hands-on sex offenses in the future. This means that there is a remarkably close relationship between consumption and subsequent perpetration of the offence. People suspected to have engaged in child pornography are more likely to commit the crime hands-on (Jérôme & Urbaniok, 2009). This is attributed to the fact that the individual has done it before, although virtually. Since some perpetrators engage in child pornography for curiosity, there is a high likelihood of such individuals to try doing it critically for curiosity reasons.
Crime history of offenders is also associated with trends of child pornography. According to a study carried out in the US by Michael Bourke of the US Marshals Service, offenders who only possessed child pornographic material at their time of judicial sentencing are less likely to commit the crime. This is true when they are compared to those who had possessed and had previously had a hands-on in the crime (Bourke, 2008). The latter group of offenders were mainly Internet offenders and had no hands-on encounter. However, they play a crucial role in perpetrating the crime. In fact, their effect is much higher compared to those with a hand-on encounter because they use the Internet. In other words, the degree of the crime either hands-on or not varies. However, this does not make the crime better in any way. The fact remains that the crime is unacceptable regardless of whether perpetrators had a hands-on encounter or not. This is in line with the biblical teachings that no sin is greater the other. Sin is sin regardless of its magnitude.
The Role of Internet in Child Pornography
Child pornography is among the fastest growing online businesses. This business has gained popularity in recent years, thus wrecking in billions of dollars to its perpetrators. The Internet is the principal tool used in this business. This means that stopping the vice is virtually impossible in the technological advancements era. The world has been reduced into a global village, meaning that millions of people can access and share information online. Perpetrators of child pornography have taken advantage of the Internet, thus perfecting their trade. Despite the fact that the Internet is attracting people to the trade of child pornography, other social factors also make it successful. Some studies have shown that some children or victims of child pornography attempt to access such sites with the intention of getting love from adults (Jérôme & Urbaniok, 2009). This is because the society may have failed in one way or the other to provide the much needed love and care. This problem can also come from events of neglect from the parents or even school. This is true because neglect creates a sense of desperation and solitude, which may make individuals switch to immorality either by no choice or for revenge.
Controlling child pornography on the Internet has proven difficult. This is because of freedom and the easiness to access any online materials of choice. This increases children’s vulnerability. The anonymity of using PCs at home has created a revolution in the way Internet spreads child pornography. Many people can access pornographic material whenever they want and privately. In the year 2002, it was estimated that there were about 100,000 child pornography web sites (Nielssen et al., 2011). This is an indication that the vice is serious. It also means that as much as human advances technologically, the advancements are self-destructive. Biblically, the notion that man will destroy himself is evident in this case.
A significant legal issue that serves as a setback to combating child pornography is the lack of international laws that define the crime. This has boosted the efforts of perpetrators who rely on the use of the Internet to commit the crime (Jérôme & Urbaniok, 2009). The current legal status is that each country has domestic laws that seek not only to fight child pornography but also the entire array of Internet crimes. This means that the most vulnerable populations are from those countries that have no ability to control or regulate their cyber traffic. Countries like the US and Canada have made some progress in surveying the Cyber space thus checking the crime to some extent. However, poorer countries continue to bear the greatest brand due to their feeble prevention abilities.
The best way to approach child pornography is by arresting its perpetrators. This means coming with the best legal provisions that will punish offenders severely. In addition to using the law, the crime can be fought by use of strict surveillance of the Internet. However, the basic role the society can play is to educate the young people about the dangers associated with child pornography. This is because it is practically impossible to deter them from accessing the Internet (Taylor & Quayle, 2007). Similarly, the church can add its voice on the vice by teaching spiritual topics that discourage child pornography.
It is now possible to apply site filtering as a method of preventing child pornography. Under this arrangement, the Internet access point or networks are monitored. Unfavorable sites are blocked from access with the help of technological applications. However, such a method can only be applied in formal venues like schools. This means that only personal computers could be use in accessing pornography sites. Although some communities may adapt what is called cyber hood watch that enables Internet access control at the community level, other problems may emerge (Nielssen et al., 2011). First, perpetrators get a reason to work hard in search of sophisticated methods to break the barriers. It is sad to note that perpetrators always get an upper hand in sneaking their business beyond such barriers. This makes it more apparent that the society has the final say as far as solving the problem is concerned. The main reason behind this is that the society can educated the young people, and thus discourage them from accessing pornography. This can also be done at the family level because it has a guarantee of influencing child behavior. The family is the basic unit of a society, and thus any input done at the family level will always affect the society.
Creation of channels through which child pornography can be reported is instrumental in preventing crime. The US government is among the governments that have established such channels. Through the department of justice, the nation has managed to open a Cybercrime website that seeks to collect the necessary data concerning crimes committed online, child pornography being one of them. The site explains various issues concerning child pornography, which include ways to search and seize information about child pornography. The site also avails critical legislative provisions that seek to prevent crime, and a number of cases that have been prosecuted successfully (Nielssen et al., 2011). Such sites are particularly useful to the citizens, since they are aware of what the crime is all about and can thus detect and report it immediately. Similarly, the church can advocate for such measures by advising the community to report any cases. This is the main way the church can contribute because its powers to control the internet traffic are also limited. In addition, the church can still try to shape the face of various web sites by advertising, for example using blogs, discouraging child pornography. In this way, the church will raise awareness and thus play a pivotal role in fighting this immorality.
Child pornography is an extremely serious crime given the shock waves it sends to the nerves of any society. This crime is utterly unacceptable by any standards, implying that it has to be condemned with the strongest means possible. The vice goes against many religious teachings, especially those of the Bible, on children. A child’s humility has been associated with the kingdom of God. Jesus Christ taught that unless one humbles down like a child, he or she could not enter the kingdom of heaven. This means that the susceptibility of children to this vice is based on their innocence, thus, they could be dragged into pornography obliviously. Therefore, the society should be extremely keen when it comes to fighting the crime. First, need to establish surveillance mechanism is paramount. In addition, appropriate legal structures that are recognized around the globe are necessary. This may be immensely useful in fighting the crime globally. In the same way, the Internet is the most preferable tool used by the perpetrators. Since it is used universally, international laws will serve better in combating the crime. The punishments given to the perpetrators should be appropriate by giving them the punitive magnitude that goes with the nature of child pornography.
The society can influence the minds of vulnerable groups putting in such efforts to fight child pornography. The society should adopt stringent efforts that seek to teach the moral values to the young, vulnerable groups. Doing this at the family level is critical to success. Involving the church is also important because the institution is likely to reach to and persuade many people. Otherwise, the crime will remain unabated and thus a massive social problem, unless synergy is used in efforts to curb the social vice.