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Child Pornography Through the Internet

Child Pornography Through the Internet

The focus of this paper is child pornography through the internet. The crime has become prevalent and makes it difficult for authorities to catch up with criminals because of the extensive reliance on new internet technologies. One of the key findings of this paper is that offenders are motivated by their desire in sexual experiences with children. The paper also explicates the real world cases of Jared Frogle and the members of the Dreamboard who continually perpetrated child pornography and confessed the offenses later. The U.S. 18 Code of Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuses Against Children is taken as the guiding law in this paper. It is instrumental in terms of its role in the protection of children against pornographic abuse. It is supported by the internet pornography law, the Children’s Internet Protection Act. It is recommended that the punishment for offenders should be revised from 15 to 30 years to get to at least 100 years to ensure the practice is regulated forever.

Children conventionally require the guardianship and care of all adults whether parents or not. However, this has not been the case in this internet era because they have remained the most vulnerable and innocent victims of child pornography through the internet. It is worth admitting that child pornography through the internet could be perpetrated by different individuals including caretakers, relatives, and even shockingly their own parents. Child pornography through the internet is diversified and includes various crimes including the possession of child images propagating pornography, the distribution of child pornographic images on the internet, online interactions with minors for sexual purposes, and the production of child pornography. The prevalence of child pornography on the internet has been worrying with over 60 million cases images of child pornography making rounds on the internet in the United States of America. In tandem with the sexual offense theory, offenders are motivated to perpetrate child pornography on the internet because their massive sexual interest in children. They find children as the most significant comfort to their sexual desires and they find themselves engaging in these acts. One of the key real world cases of child pornography on the internet involved Jared Fogle, a former Subway pitchman while another case involved Dreamboard members including William Davis and Christopher Blackford. The Dreamboard child sex exploitation and child pornography site represents one of the key cases of child pornography on the internet to have been reported in the United States of America. The U.S. law on child exploitation and pornography is governed by 18 United States Code Chapter 110, Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse to Children. More so, the Children’s Internet Protection Act plays an instrumental role in outlawing this practice. In essence, parents could participate in the prevention of child pornography on the internet by keenly monitoring their children in terms of what they watch on the internet. They could also protect them through effective guidance and counseling sessions especially for adolescents. The twenty-year jail term could be expanded to at least 50 years and the fine increased for any offender to ensure the practice is completely eliminated in the country. Tentative Thesis: Child pornography has become particularly problematic with the evolution of the internet, but could be effectively prevented by parents through direct involvement in the activities of their children especially when exposed to the internet.

The Sexual Offense Theory

The sexual offense theory plays an instrumental role in explaining the motivations behind the offenders’ motivation of perpetrating child pornography through the internet. As much as child pornography on the internet might not involve physical engagement in sexual acts with children, it is a practical case of sexual offense because of the sexual solicitations with minors and the distribution of their images on the internet. Wolak, Finkelhor, Mitchell, and Ybarra asserts that in tandem with the sexual offense theory, offenders tend to be motivated by the sexual interest in children. Most of them tend to be more sexually interested in children compared to adults hence leading to the occurrence of the offense. They become easily sexually aroused in cases where they think of engaging in sex with children. Therefore, they find the internet the best possible means to solicit children with the view of meeting them for sex, producing child pornography, and taking their pictures, which they subsequently distribute on the internet at their own pleasure. The high interest in sex with children does not give these individuals the opportunity to imagine that it is a wrongful act with severe consequences of arrest. In the views of Crofts and Lee, the sexual offense theory emphasizes this motivation by highlighting the view that individuals will seek out pornography content that reflects their sexual interests. In this case, pedophilic individuals look out for content or images that reflect their higher affinity for children as sex partners. They find it difficult to operate without engaging children in pornography through any means including the internet. Thus, they find it quite irresistible to distribute child pornography, produce child pornography, and engage in sexual solicitations with children.

The recidivism risk factors could also be significantly understood from the propositions of the sexual offense theory. In light of the factors postulated by the theory, the prior criminal history of the offender is a significant recidivism factor. Once released from prison, some of them tend to get back to the practice hence affecting its total elimination from the society. They are motivated to go back to the offense for reasons that would satisfy them. Another recidivism risk factor that could be identified is substance abuse, which could gradually become a psychological condition for criminals. Fried asserts that with continued intake of drugs, offenders find it difficult to overcome child pornography on the internet. They seem to be fascinated with the practice and would keep indulging in it even in cases where they have been warned about its dangers harm to children. It gradually becomes an obsession to them and they would find themselves perpetrating it because of the influence of these drugs. Therefore, the recidivism risk factors are concerns that could be effectively addressed through programs that would ensure offenders do not have an opportunity to get back to the practice at any given time.

Literature Review

Previous literature has focused on the explication of the whole issue of child pornography in terms of how parents could work in line with the law to ensure that the crime against children is prevented. These studies also clearly reveal the manner in which the offenders could be tracked down, caught, and punished to ensure child pornography through the internet. They present a clear picture of how child pornography has become prevalent with the continuing internet presence.

The research by McGuire, Rogers, and Niveau focused broadly on the child pornography through the internet, the effects on children, and the best strategies that could be adopted to curb child pornography on the internet. They reveal that child pornography has become a common occurrence in the contemporary society with the increased access of children to the internet where they are easily targeted by pedophiles. With their vulnerability, they easily fall into the trap of sexual solicitations. In his research, McGuire identified two key forms of child pornography on the internet including online grooming and the proliferation of indecent images of children, which basically entails the production and distribution of pornographic materials. The study also revealed that the primary motivations of individuals who engage in child pornography on the internet are always sexually-driven and they tend to be irresistible. However, the offenders could be tracked down with advanced information communication technology that would set them into the police trap. Rogers added to the discussion by stating that peer-to-peer networks to cloud computing have just escalated the problem through easy reach of offenders to unsuspecting children. He states that the internet has made it more convenient to exploit children sexually through the internet, but there are opportunities through which suspects could be nabbed hence protecting these children from further exploitation. The research by Niveau reveals that it is quite difficult to estimate the real prevalence of sexual interest in children, especially because these cases are increasing at an uncontrollable rate. Despite the realization of the legal consequences, perpetrators still engage in these acts to gratify their own desires of being sexually attracted to children. All these students were instrumental in revealing the prevalence of children pornography through the internet and its subsequent effects on children. Pedophiles have the capacity of destroying the future of children, especially where they meet them and engage them in physical sexual acts.

More so, the study by Rosenberg and the U.S. Department of Justice aimed at investigating the best ways that could be utilized in the prevention of child pornography on the internet. Accordingly, the prevention of the crime will obviously go ahead to preserve the dignity of children and ensure they are brought up in the best ways possible. In regard to this understanding, the study by Rosenberg established that parents could work in tandem with law enforcers to prevent the continued occurrence of child pornography on the internet through a filtering software. Filters ensure that children are not able to access particular websites chat rooms, and newsgroups. This will ensure that they are not easily targeted by pedophiles who would want to use them for their sexual gratification. This goes down to the understanding that crime could be prevented through active participation of parents in the internet use of their children. The U.S. Department of Justice evaluated a Report to the Congress on the national strategy for the prevention and interdiction of criminals involved in child pornography on the internet. The study revealed that child pornography robs the victims of their innocence, and subsequently interferes with their physical and emotional status. The U.S. Department of Justice articulates that the prevention of this crime would be more efficient through the passage of relevant laws that would assist in the tracking, arrest, and prosecution of victims involved. Therefore, it suggests that one of the laws that would have been more effective in the prevention of this crime is the Proving Resources, Officers, and Technology to Eradicate Cyber Threats to Our Children Act of 2008. The Act works in tandem with the Department of Justice to ensure that child pornography is effectively combated. In summary, both studies envision that the practice is interruptive to the growth of children and could be dealt with through collaborative efforts of the federal government, state governments, non-governmental organizations, and the parents of children.

The study by Berlin and Sawyer also went in depth into the assertion of specific ways that could be adopted by parents to prevent the occurrence of the crime to their children. In their study, they stated that making children aware of the existence of these crimes is a key strategy toward mitigating it. They should be continuously aware of the fact that they could be duped by individuals on the internet to fall into the trap of being used for pornography. This information should start from an early age to ensure they control their own access to the internet. On the other hand, Berlin and Sawyer admitted that it is not easy to nab the offenders because of the discovery of the effective ways to hide their own identities. In respect to the aspect of catching and punishing the perpetrators of this offense against children, Berlin and Sawyer established that the current sentences for offenders could be reviewed to be stricter to ensure that these crimes are regulated in the future. For instance, going forward to increase the sentence terms or even converting them into death penalties would be instrumental in the prevention.

Real World Cases of Child Pornography Through The Internet

Child pornography on the internet has been continuously increasing with the sophistication of internet technologies. In this part, two key real world events on child pornography through the internet have happened in the United States of America. The first relevant real world case of child pornography on the internet involved Jared Fogle, a former Subway pitchman. He was accused of directly participating in the promotion of child pornography through the internet. Castillo  asserts that what happened in this case was that Jared Fogle possessed and distributed child porn through the internet. He had been initially seen as an inspiration to children before turning out to be a pornographic supporter. Another thing that happened in this case is that Jared Fogle travelled across state lines to engage in sexual acts with at least two teenage girls that he had duped through the internet. In the case, Castillo agrees that it is clearly stated that between 2011 and 2013 Mr. Fogle received multiple pornographic images of minors engaging in sexually explicit contact. It is stated that he used hidden cameras to record the pornographic events together with his friend Russell C. Taylor. Between 2010 and 2013, it is stated that he travelled from Indiana to New York to have sex with minors. He pleaded guilty to the offense and there was a proposal to sentence him to at least 13 years in prison. Mr. Fogle could have participated in this offense because of his motivation to engage in sexual acts with children.

Another real world example of child pornography involved Dreamboard members, an international criminal network. Dreamboard is understood to be the largest child pornography bulletin board in the history of the United States of America. The events that happened in this case were clearly brought out by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). One of the criminals in the case, Christopher Blackford pleaded guilty of child exploitation through the internet. He posted child pornographic messages on the internet knowing that they were against the set legal understandings. The Department of Justice explains that with the agreement to the charges, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the offense and charged a fine of $250,000. Another key criminal in the case was William Davis who also pleaded guilty to the conspiracy to advertise child pornography. He was also fined $250,000 with a potential sentence of 15 to 30 years.

These cases reveal the high threat of child pornography through the internet. Offenders have the guts to go as far as forming a website such as Dreamboard dedicated to posts and advertisement of child pornography. The presence of these cases raises concerns to the society in terms of what would need to be done by both parents and the law enforcement to curb the practice. For the law, strict policy statements must be put in place to ensure that such cases are avoided in the future.

Discussion

The Legal Aspect of Child Pornography Through the Internet

One of the most significant findings of this paper is that the United States has emphatically tried to control child pornography through the internet through its strict policies. According to Martin, the United States has instrumentally articulated laws to prohibit child exploitation and the law on internet pornography. The strong policy of the U.S. against child exploitation is protected by the 18 United States Code on Sexual Exploitation of Children. The Code restricts the exploitation of children through pornography through the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996. The law is assertive and its strictly points out that anyone found employing, persuading, inducing, and coercing any minor to engage in the any form of sexually explicit practices will be brought to book. In line with this statement, individuals are not required to transport minors or use them for sexual commerce. It constitutes an offense and would be strictly punishable by this law. This is important because of its wider coverage and stern warning to perpetrators of the offense. More so, Michaels states that this law is effective in the prevention of child exploitation by forbidding parents, legal guardians, and individuals having the custody of minors to engage in or assist in involving children in sexually explicit practices. Children deserve to be protected by their own parents and guardians for this practice to be eliminated. However, in some cases, parents have been induced into selling their children into pornography for their profitability, but this law serves as the best solution that would lead to the prevention of this practice. Otherwise, it would be a challenge to the law enforcement. The policy on the prevention of child exploitation also prohibits the sending, receiving, displaying, distributing, or reproducing sexually explicit materials targeting children. Instances of minors engaging in sexually explicit activities from the images that are shared would be taken seriously by the law and subsequently punished. Another key element of this policy statement is that it points out the fines and the prison sentence that one would likely serve when caught promoting child pornography. For instance, Martin agrees that the law suggests a sentence of between 15 and 30 years for individual who would be found to be participating in child pornography.

There is also the legal aspect of internet pornography as asserted by the Children’s Internet Protection Act, which was enacted by the Congress in 2000. Wortley and Smallbone, affirm that the Children’s Internet Protection Act is effective in the regulation of internet pornography by addressing concerns of children’s access to harmful and obscene images on the internet. It basically emphasizes the need for schools to regulate the level of which their students access the internet at any given time. They should not be allowed to access inappropriate matter that would eventually turn out as pornography that eventually hurts their own progress and growth as children. This law points to the responsibility of all members of the society to ensure that the access to the internet is superbly regulated to avoid any cases of individuals who might want to take advantage of them. Individuals found exposing children to explicit materials on the internet would be held liable for their own actions. The best thing that child handlers should do is to put in place filters that would effectively prevent the access of children to undesirable materials and images of pornography. There would be no opportunity of them being induced into the practice of internet pornography. This extends to both schools and even homes where the internet is frequently used by children.

The two laws are undeniably effective in terms of dealing with criminals involved in the promotion of child pornography through the internet. The laws agree on the fundamental aspect that child exploitation should not be in place at any given time because it works against their normal growth of the child. Children do not have the opportunity to enjoy their innocent as they get into adulthood. Some of them become traumatic and this might affect their decisions on relations as they get into their defining moments of their adulthood.

Safety/Prevention Plan for Parents and Children

Children are extremely vulnerable to child pornography through the internet. Nevertheless, parents and guardians could be the biggest saviors of these children once they strike out and uphold a clear plan to fight against the potential exposure of their children to internet-propagated pornography. They should be keen enough to preserve the dignity of their own children and ensure they grow up in a normal way. Thus, the effective and reliable plan that could be adopted by parents to control the exposure of their children to pornography on the internet as articulated below.

One of the key elements of the plan to prevent the exposure of their children to the crime would be the regulation of their access to the internet. Seigfried-Spellar opines that the internet age coupled up with devices such as smartphones has made it inevitable for children to access the internet any time they want. The most shocking thing is that even their parents seem to be less concerned about what they encounter on the internet. That is why it is suggested that parents should move fast and ensure that they control the access of their children to the internet. Regulation of access to the internet could be done through restriction on the pages that children can access on their mobile devices and computer networks. This could only be achieved through closer monitoring by parents. They should not allow children to have the full freedom to read all pages on the internet especially because they would be targeted through these sites. Wolak, Finkelhor, Mitchell, and Ybarra opine that predators are always waiting to pounce at any given loophole. They do not waste opportunities in cases where they spot vulnerable children. The whole offense starts off as a friendship with the child on social media before becoming a serious and undesirable relationship. Parents and guardians should pay particular attention to this part of the plan because it would save them from the distress of having to suffer the consequences that come when the child has already been involved as a victim in the crime. The whole complications could be eliminated by playing an active role in controlling what children are exposed to in the course of using the internet at any given time. If they are not able to do this by themselves, they should at least have somebody to help them in the monitoring process.

Another part of the plan that would assist parents and children to stay away from the negative effects of child pornography through the internet would be frequent guidance and counseling sessions especially for children getting into the adolescent stage. Oswell indicates that adolescents are always in the age of discovering their own bodies and could be easily lured into the practice. Nonetheless, some parents do not notice this and seem to be less concerned about talking to them to offer them advice on what is needed to be done to live a life full of dignity. The best thing that parents could do to mitigate the effects of possible child pornography is to engage them in the same conversations. In the course of the conversation, parents must notify their children about child pornography and the specific elements it entails. They should effectively point out every component of the factors that constitute child pornography and the forms in which it could take place. Apart from just identifying it, parents should be careful to assert its effects on children in term of their growth. Guidance and counseling would be a significant aspect that would ensure adolescents are not convinced or coerced into child pornography. This is because it will come with the understanding that it is a wrongful practice that should be shunned for appropriate living and realization of personal goals in life among children.

The last key part of the plan that parents and children could embrace to prevent the continued occurrence of child pornography is to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities. Fried agrees that law enforcement is always there to ensure that children are effectively protected from unsuspecting pedophiles on the internet. Nevertheless, it takes the contribution of parents to ensure that these individuals are brought to book. This plan will effectively work in cases where parents have informed their children about the potential cases of pornographic approach on the internet. The children need to be careful to inform their parents of any form of online stalking from suspects to ensure that they are arrested within the required time. This is a perfect form of community policing that would see parents deliver reliable information to the law enforcement agencies hence ensuring the situation is salvaged before their children get involved in pornographic acts on the internet. Parents should not ignore any signs of individuals stalking their children. They should rather move swiftly to ensure that the cases are duly reported and addressed by the law enforcement agencies as required. Keeping quiet would come with unexpected consequences of the child being involved in pornography, which could be traumatizing in the long-term.

Ways of Tracking, Catching, and Punishing Child Offenders

The process of tracking, catching, and punishing old offenders is not one of the easiest because most of the offenders involved are aware of the technological aspects and what needs to be done to protect themselves. However, the best way to track down these individuals is the use of technology. McGuire (2013) affirms that technology is the best way of tracking individuals involved in the distribution and production of child-related pornographic content. Law enforcement agencies have the responsibility of coming up with efficient technology that would have the opportunity of sensing and accessing potential child-related pornographic materials on the internet. Their IP address could be easily tracked with this approach hence making arrests far much easier. In the same spirit of technological application, the offenders could be tracked down using their phone numbers. Any phone number involved in sending and distributing pornographic materials should be instantly identified with the support of technology to ensure that these individuals are arrested within the required time. O’Leary and D’Ovidio agree that these individuals could be caught in the action or after they have just engaged in the offense. A technology dedicated to the online monitoring of this offense will play an active role in ensuring that these individuals are caught before getting the chance to exploit more children. Setting traps for them would also make it easier for the arrest to be made. A trap could be set by providing them with misleading information on a potential opportunity for child pornography. It will be extremely difficult for them to reject such an opportunity that automatically satisfies them.

According to U.S. Department of Justice, the punishment for individuals who indulge in child pornography through the internet has been set to be between 15 and 30 years with varied fines based on the ruling. Most of the arrested individuals serve their terms, but once they get out of prison, they find it difficult to regulate their behaviors and find themselves engaging in the offense. With this in mind, this practice could be revised to be stricter and more impactful to the offenders to ensure that they do not have the opportunity of ruining the lives of innocent children. Thus, the key suggestion in this case is that offenders should be punished with an imprisonment term of at least 100 years. This translates to a lifetime imprisonment that will not offer them the opportunity to participate in these crimes again since they would have been locked up. More so, the fine could be even increased to $800,000 for these offenders to ensure that more individuals are prohibited from engaging in this crime. It is only through severe punishment that these offenders will have no chance to perpetrate child pornography. The law enforcement should take such strict actions to ensure that all the cartels involved in the facilitation of the crimes against children are subsequently broken down for a bright future for these innocent children.

Conclusion

In summary, the prevalence of child pornography through the internet is extremely worrying as criminals continue taking advantage of innocent children. Children are lured or even coerced into getting involved in internet pornography. Criminals execute these acts by distributing videos and images of child pornography, producing child pornography, and even talking to the children with the intention of meeting them for the reason of engaging in sexual acts with them. The sexual offensive theory explains clearly that these individuals tend to engage in child pornography because of their motivations of being sexually-engaged with children. They claim not to have power over their own actions. The cases of Jared Frogle and the members of the Dreamboard are illustrative of the need for law enforcers to be careful to take charge and avoid the escalation in child pornography on the internet. These individuals seemed to engage in pornographic acts that would have definitely destroyed the lives of the victims. The United States Code on Sexual Exploitation of Children plays a vital role in the prevention of the crime through clear assertions on what individuals should not do. For example, strangers and even parents are forbidden from coercing children to be involved in actions that promote pornography against them. In the same respect, they are forbidden against the distribution and production of child-related pornographic materials. The sentence of 15 to 30 years in prison must be extended to reflect the seriousness of the fight against child pornography through the internet. Otherwise, some people will be arrested and engage in these crimes later on due to irresistibility. Parents should be the number one protectors of their children by educating them on the aspect of child pornography and its elements. More so, they could ensure that it is prevented by monitoring the usage of the internet among their children. Monitoring the usage simplifies everything by ensuring children do not fall into the trap. The task for fighting against child pornography on the internet is cut out for both parents and the law enforcement agencies and they should work in tandem to rescue children from the hungry preys in the form of criminals.

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