Pedophiles, whether on or offline, pose an indescribable threat to children. The New York Times released a two-part series* about web pedophiles and new websites designed to skirt current child pornography laws. These sites, while claiming that they are engaging in the child modeling business, contain lascivious pictures of children who are barely clothed. Some of the producers of these pictures believe that they should be shielded from child pornography and child abuse laws because the children and infants pictured are clothed. However, the intentions of the pictures are clearly sexual. The New York Times reports that these sites describe the young children as “hot” and “delicious.”
While there are real child modeling sites on the Internet, the so-called “modeling” sites that are popping up online are not. According to The New York Times, real modeling sites password- protect their pictures of children (which are nonsexual), and make them available only to bona fide companies and casting agents who have been subject to a background check.
US law defines child pornography as “sexually explicit content” regarding minors, including “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area.” Thus, the partially clothed minors depicted on these pornographic sites are victims of child pornography. Moreover, consumers of this material are breaking federal law.
Most pedophiles do not view themselves as rapists or aggressors. Instead, they believe that children are able to consent to sexual acts.
It is both abhorrent and baffling that anyone can assume that children of the age of two, 10, 12, or any other age under 18 are able to consent to a sexual act. Even more disheartening is the fact that most child sexual abuse comes from a parent or someone who has consistent access to the child. According to The New York Times many pedophiles speak about taking jobs as camp counselors and teachers.
Let’s hope that federal courts are able to quickly shut down the burgeoning market of pornographic child modeling sites.
Creating child pornography is child abuse, and both consumers and producers of the images perpetually victimize the children involved. If you witness the sexual exploitation of children, or encounter child pornography, you should immediately report it to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline.
*The articles, entitled “Dark Corners: With Child Sex Sites on the Run, Nearly Nude Photos Hit the Web” and “Dark Corners: On the Web, Pedophiles Extend Their Reach” were published August 20 and August 21, 2006, respectively. They are available from www.nytimes.com for a fee.