Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Why child pornography is not being fully prosecuted

With the easy of obtaining and affordable prices of photographic and computer equipment child pornography is rapidly expanding in both the terms of producers and images. Child pornography is the still or moving images of children engaged in sexual activities or in the nude. Legally it is described as follows:

Under federal law (18 U.S.C. §2256), child pornography is defined as any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where

~ the production of the visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
~ the visual depiction is a digital image, computer image, or computer-generated image that is, or is indistinguishable from, that of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
~ the visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct.

Federal law (18 U.S.C. §1466A) also criminalizes knowingly producing, distributing, receiving, or possessing with intent to distribute, a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture or painting, that
~ depicts a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and is obscene, or
~depicts an image that is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in graphic bestiality, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or sexual intercourse, including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex and such depiction lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

Sexually explicit conduct is defined under federal law (18 U.S.C. §2256) as actual or simulated sexual intercourse (including genital-genital, oral-genital, anal-genital, or oral-anal, whether between persons of the same or opposite sex), bestiality, masturbation, sadistic or masochistic abuse, or lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of any person.
Who Is a Minor?

For purposes of enforcing the federal law (18 U.S.C. §2256), “minor” is defined as a person under the age of 18 years.

The US Department of Justice ten years ago estimated that there were over one million children who had been the subjects of child pornography. [1] The actual numbers today are in the millions of new subjects each year. Forty percent (40%) were "dual offenders," who sexually victimized children and possessed child pornography.[2]

Experts differ over any causal link, with some experts saying that use of child porn reduces the risk of offending by satisfying a sexual need while others contend that child porn acts as a gateway to actual child molestation.[3] The production of child pornography, particularly of nude images, can be used for the purpose of "grooming". This may be to coax the child into more graphic acts and images of for molestation and prostitution. It is for this reason that all child pornography is a crime.

The new face of the child pornographer ~

In a study of 1,713 people arrested for the possession of child pornography in a 1-year period, the possessors ran the gamut in terms of income, education level, marital status, and age.  Virtually all of those who were arrested were men, 91% were white, and most were unmarried at the time of their crime, either because they had never married (41%) or because they were separated, divorced, or widowed (21%).[2] The high arrest rate for men should not be seen as an indicator of who produces kiddie porn. One study that asked respondents if they had produced child pornography found that females admitted to production at a rate 20% higher than that of males.[4]

Just as with many other social ills men have been left to bear the burden. Although there is clear evidence that women commit as many acts of Domestic Violence as men[5] the men are the ones targeted for prosecution. The same is being done for child pornography. In one instance a boy age 13 was charged with possession of child pornography that was produced by and transmitted to him by an older girl.[6] The girl who produced the kiddie porn, although known to police, was not arrested.

Although the largest demographic of child pornographers is teenage girls the prosecution of this crime, in discriminatory fashion, is still overwhelmingly against men and boys. California once passed a law mandating that an arrest be made when called to the scene of a Domestic Violence incident. The number of arrests of men increased 37%, while the number of women arrested soared by 446%.[7] The law was soon repealed because it did not have the intended effect of raising the arrest percentage of males.

Again we have a situation where females are creating a gateway for some people to engage in producing hard-core child pornography themselves or advancing to child molestation. Child pornography is not a victimless crime and those who produce it, regardless of gender, should not be treated as though it is simply a fun game.

1] Levesque, Roger J. R. (1999). Sexual Abuse of Children: A Human Rights Perspective. Indiana University. pp. p65. ISBN 0253334713.
2] Janis Wolak, Kimberly Mitchell, and David Finkelhor Internet Sex Crimes Against Minors: The Response of Law Enforcement (Alexandria, Virginia: National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, November 2003)
3] Carr, John (2004). Child abuse, child pornography and the internet: Executive summary. NCH.
4] The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, December 2008, Sex and Tech
5] Gelles RJ. The hidden side of domestic violence: Male victims. Women's Quarterly, 1999.
6] Craig Civale / WFAA-TV, Oct 2008, Student faces porn charge over text message sent by classmate.
7] Wells W, DeLeon-Granados W. Analysis of unexamined issues in the intimate partner homicide decline: Race, quality of victim services, offender accountability, and system accountability. Final report. Document No. 196666, 2000.

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