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Protecting Innocence – Part I

**Warning** What I am about to talk about is ugly. It’s scary, and it’s graphic. It’s not an easy subject to talk, or write about, but ignoring the issue, or pretending that it isn’t as bad, isn’t protecting innocent kids from one side of the world to the other. What I am talking about is

**Warning**
What I am about to talk about is ugly. It’s scary, and it’s graphic. It’s not an easy subject to talk, or write about, but ignoring the issue, or pretending that it isn’t as bad, isn’t protecting innocent kids from one side of the world to the other.

What I am talking about is what is often referred to as child pornography. I don’t like that phrase though. The word pornography implies consent. And there is nothing consensual about the this. What I am talking about is child sexual abuse. The rape and torture of children, on video or in photos, to be disseminated for public consumption by pedophiles in the dark, and not-so-dark corners of the internet.

Images and videos of sexual abuse are readily available through virtually every internet technology today, including social networking websites, file-sharing sites, photo-sharing sites, gaming devices, and even mobile apps. These predators can also connect on internet forums and networks to share their interests, desires, and experiences abusing children, in addition to selling, sharing, and trading images of their abuse.

According to the Child Rescue Coalition (CRC), “The proliferation of these networks permits this sharing to take place at a larger scale, which has increased both the number and egregiousness of offenses. Even worse, it has moved the problem offline, creating a deplorable secondary after-effect where sex offenders use the internet to stalk children, and trade tips on how to lure them into sexual encounters. With this information, these victims can then be sexually assaulted in order to produce this material, and victimized every time these images are shared over the internet.”

Today, child predators have all but unlimited access to child sexual abuse material due to the easy, anonymous, and on-demand availability of these illicit graphic images and videos of child victims. A staggering 85 percent — have become hands-on abusers. Whether or not child sexual abuse material is stored on a computer or shared online, it still represents a violent criminal act of sexual abuse and is just as vicious as having manufactured it in the first place.

The CRC states that as many as 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys will experience some form of sexual abuse before age 18. Although, if I’m being honest, I think that the number for boys is low. I think due to the nature of the world, boys are less likely to come forward about their abuse and that skews the numbers.

90% of children who suffered sexual abuse were violated by someone known to the family. And the supply and demand of materials has only grown in the last couple of months.

Children who would normally be in school, a safe space from their abusers and predators have been forced to be at home. Pedophiles, who would normally be working, are also home, looking for more and more egregious material.

On the whole, the prevalence of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) has exploded in the last decade. Gabriel Dance, deputy investigation editor of the New York Times, was recently featured on the Sam Harris podcast. According to Dance, in 2007 there were approximately 100,000 reports of CSAM on the internet. In 2019 that number was almost 17,000,000.

But there are organizations and people who are trying to help. The Child Rescue Coalition is a nonprofit organization that rescues children from sexual abuse by building technology for law enforcement, free of charge, to track, arrest and prosecute child predators.

According to their website, “Our Child Protection System (CPS) Technology provides the most comprehensive view of where child predators around the world are downloading and sharing explicit content online.
“We work around the clock to collect and index 30 to 50 million reports of online users trading child sexual abuse material every day. This information allows us to expose hidden networks of abusers and report their activity.

“We provide our data to local law enforcement agencies free of charge to help them protect children by tracking, arresting and prosecuting child predators worldwide — often without having to put children through the trauma of testifying in court.”

More than 10,000 law enforcement officers in all 50 U.S. states and over 96 countries use the technology to target and apprehend predators who are most likely to sexually abuse children.

They are essentially taking public information like IP addresses and getting in the hands of law enforcement so they can make arrests. Since inception, CRC has identified 71 million unique IP addresses worldwide sharing and downloading sexually explicit images and videos of children.

Their technology has led to the arrests of more than 12,000 dangerous predators across the globe. To date, their technology has prevented the abuse of more than 600,000 children.

They are doing amazing work to stop the spread and sharing of child sexual abuse and should be commended for their work.

Organizations like the CRC are doing incredible work, but we also have to start at home in protecting our children. Next week, I will talk about how we, as parents, guardians, aunts, uncles, friends and more can help protect the little lives around us.

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