A Review of the Literature
November 19, 2012
Sexual Exploitation of Children
A Review of the Literature
The sexual abuse of children and young people is a phenomenon that predates the arrival of the Internet by many, many centuries (Carr, 2003). Pornography can be generally defined as erotic depictions intended to provoke a sexual response. Child pornography is a special case, however; its subject matter abuses and exploits victims protected by international law: non-consenting children. It is this key trait – the illegal victimization of identifiable minors – that sets child pornography apart from classes of material which could be labeled obscene or adult erotica (Casanova, et. al., 2000). Child pornography offenders are coming increasingly to the attention of treatment providers and criminal justice authorities as perpetrators of serious and extremely concerning cybersex crime (Quayle, Vaughan & Taylor, 2006). Being a victim of sexual abuse is challenging enough, but for someone that has been a victim of sexual abuse using the Internet, there are added complications when trying to make sense of what exactly has happened and determining who the offender is. This happens because the actual victims were mostly never touched by the offender, and in many cases, were told to touch themselves or others in order to comply with the directions given by the real offender. The Internet… from the beginning
The first recorded description of the social interactions that could be enabled through networking was a series of memos written by J.C.R. Licklider of MIT in August 1962 discussing his "Galactic Network" concept (Internet Society, 2012). The Internet has modernized the accessibility of child pornography and simplified the viewing, downloading, distribution and production of this type of material. It has provided a new forum for adults to have contact with potential sexual abuse victims and has also provided the opportunity for individuals to network with others who share their prurient sexual interest in minors (O’Connell, 2001). Constantly changing technologies, including webcams, social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, LiveJournal), and services such as Skype and VOIP, make online illegal activity easier. The ever increasing technology allows access to the Internet anywhere at any time. Advances like these, as well as online resources such as peer-to-peer networks, not only allow the transmission of illegal material to move faster and in larger quantities than ever before, but it also allows predators to electronically enter the private spaces of our youth. Once they’ve crept into the bedrooms, they can engage in sexually explicit conversations in chat rooms or by using a webcam. The perpetrators are either voyeurs, using the youth’s webcam to view him or her, or can be exhibitionists by displaying their genitals or anything else for the youth to see. Identifying the victims
While rapes and sexual assaults that resulted from initial contacts in a chat room are perhaps the most extreme forms of contact-based sexual predation, they are by no means the only forms (Carr, 2003). Many children are persuaded to act out or take pictures and/or video of sexual acts they have done either alone or with others and send these images to the offender. Reports of child sexual abuse continue to rise, and, in all probability, many more cases go unreported. There is no way of knowing how many images of child abuse existed before the Internet arrived. Before the Internet, a typical arrest for possession of child pornography would include only a few pictures, all printed on paper or on video of some type. Now, there have been several arrests all over the world with more than 100,000 images obtained. As Carr (2003) states in his article Child abuse, child pornography...