“Child pornography” is a term commonly used to describe the sexual exploitation of children, but it does not describe the unspeakable horrors faced by children being sexually abused as the images and videos are being created. Victims are first sexually assaulted in order to produce the pornographic images, then victimized again when images of the sexual assault are shared over the Internet.
The proliferation of peer-to-peer networks permits this sharing to take place, which has in turn exploded both the number and egregiousness of offenses. The Internet provides easy, anonymous, on-demand access to child pornography and has created a deplorable secondary after-effect: Sex offenders not only use the Internet to distribute pornography, they stalk children, share information, and trade tips and techniques on how to seduce and lure them into sexual encounters.
Moreover, because they discover “like-minded” abusers, offenders mistakenly believe that their behavior is somehow normal. It is not.
The number of people involved in this type of criminal behavior increases every year. Law enforcement needs advanced technology and support to track, arrest, and ultimately convict abusers.
* National Center for Victims of Crime; Centers for Disease Control