Law enforcement’s main objective in its job is to enforce laws whose objectives are to make society a safer and more acceptable place – essentially to protect the intrinsic rights of American citizens. By nature, this type of job must face some evils in this world that are hard to face as reality. Ultimately crime is one person hurting or taking away some right from another person.
In the world of child sexual assault, child pornography is a crime that carries a very disturbing and grotesque motive. Yet, it has become ultimately profitable and widespread on the internet. In the 1980’s many law enforcement agencies were able to stop and hold in check pornography due to the way it was distributed – physically. However, with the advent of the internet, pornography, and more specifically child porn, has become easier to distribute around the United States. This distribution method has made enforcing child pornography difficult due to several legislative and technological problems.child pornography is one of those crimes that demands the aspects of terror and the toll it has taken upon law enforcement agencies was discussed In connection with our last article, in which a large amount of hours for agencies to effectively observe, deduce, and then prosecute. Special units that must weave in and out of effective ways to investigate these crimes in a modern era where terror is on the back of everyone’s mind. Furthermore, legislation with regard to investigation procedures has changed largely due to terrorist attacks. (For example, terror attacks shortly increased law enforcement’s ability to investigate criminals at a closer level, but long term has brought about the scrutiny and further insurance of protection of rights for the accused. Protecting rights is important, but the point at hand is police must ensure proper investigative procedure now more than ever so that they do not become scrutinized by “perpetrating” the accused’s rights.) Child porn is a terrifying and grotesque issue in and of itself, but it has taken a back seat in the minds of many. Drawing out the disastrous effects of child pornography will show why it causes such a dissolution for the perpetrators and then law enforcement whom must protect society from these crimes.
Child pornography is a crime that carries devastating effects from the moment it commences. Every step carries with it a wave of devastation that – should it not be handled quickly – will ultimately spread over years, possibly into the next generations. Children are coerced into porn by one of two ways. In 1989 study a by Lanning and Burges 1 showed that most children were actually coerced by someone who is familiar with them – possibly even a parent. Secondly, more recent studies with the internet on mind have profiled that criminals will coerce kids via the internet, and then lead them into what is essentially statutory rape2. No matter, both methods make children the subject of sex crimes that destroy their minds. With this destruction will come shame that has the potential of carrying into their adult life should it not be divulged and discussed. Furthermore, these criminals are very likely to hurt children while committing these crimes.
The next level of a child pornography crime, after the criminal obtains the material, is to distribute it. The distribution of child pornography is where the criminal will make his profit off of the victim. From the distribution of child pornography comes the destruction of the mind for those who view such material. The internet has made the distribution and thus the viewership, of pornography much easier. Pornography has devastating effects, but child pornography warps the mind in many other ways. It brings the mind of the viewer to see children and family in a different way. It breaks apart the family relationship and brings about violence. Pornography can very quickly become an addiction that the mind demands more of, escalating eventually to levels where the circle of child porn only continues.
In our modern society, which has become questioning of, “art” and censorship, many attempts to feed their grotesque and evil compulsion for child porn by arguing it is just that – art. (Technically, it is art – it is the depiction of man or an object and it elicits strong emotion). What many ignore is the devastating effects it carries. Child pornography is evil. Pure and outright evil. Child pornography is a vile part of society that must be eradicated, for it brings about the destruction of families and violence of people that become addicted. It is an escalating crime because often those who commit such vile acts of offending children will – or have – carried their criminal pursuits to other facets.
That secondary facet of crime that child pornography brings about is where police face the devastating effects of investigating this type of evil. The difficulty will make itself evident in two ways – the investigative procedure and technicalities and the long-term emotional effects.
First, the investigative procedure of child pornography takes a step that standard investigations do not due to the point of discovery. Child pornography, unfortunately, is not usually discovered until the crime has been committed and the material is being distributed from a “child sex ring”. Due to the criminal often first capturing the trust of children, the child will not disclose they have become stuck in a situation until it is too late. Standard investigation procedure is to get ahead of the criminal – profile then find and stop future crime. Child pornography must be faced first by discovery, then use techniques to work backwards; to find the child (or children) involved to save them. Simultaneously, finding the child will usually bring about the discovery of who is committing the crime.
Child pornography is a crime committed in secret. Opposed to a more public criminal investigation with lots of tracing – for example. financial data in white collar crime, witnesses’ in a robbery, or witnesses’ who know suspects in a homicide – child porn is a crime that involves very little trace evidence until the crime scene is located. With the advent of the internet, it is the evidence that child porn has been constructed that is found first, not the physical victim or perpetrator. Furthermore, this evidence is usually found in the cyberspace – a relatively new area in the world of criminal investigation. As with any new evolution to an aspect of criminal investigations, cyberspace brings about strict opposition to how it can be investigated. And as stated earlier, this scrutiny of law enforcement in the cyberspace has largely been brought about by the heightened terror level experienced in the world. Investigators thus must ensure proper procedure while investigating in the cyberspace so that all evidence found can be used in the prosecution phase. As investigators, attention must be paid specifically to how investigations can be carried out in the cyberspace as these laws are evolving seemingly on a yearly basis. Ensure the most efficient path is being used in order to locate the criminals and victims in child porn as soon as possible. Which brings up another factor of concern – the time and emotion connection.
Law enforcement that investigated child pornography crimes must come to terms emotionally with the crime being committed. Devastating effects are observed while investigating, and it can elicit long and short term effects. In the short term, it must be ensured that the time you use is efficient, but timely in order to prevent further children from being hurt. The emotion of “I must do this now,” will often creep up and try to encourage investigators to speed ahead too fast – an action that will lead to missing key evidence or breaking the scrutiny level in the cyberspace. Long term, investigators must keep their doubt in check to ensure they do not dwell on past crimes. Dwelling on the past will do nothing for the current or past victims – investigators must learn how to become better, take nothing personally, and move to the next case.
Child pornography is a crime that has become harder to investigate due to its unilateral effect on society and law enforcement. In society, it has become questioned in liberal circles of its acceptance and devastation – mainly by those who have become too involved in a philosophical think tank. Law enforcement agents must balance the way they take on these crimes now with the evolving cyberspace intertwined with the emotional urge to “skip investigative techniques for the sake of time.” Child pornography in today’s times. demand an advanced detective who is willing to give of themselves to ensure the full investigative procedure is completed.
Online "predators" and their victims: Myths, Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K. J., & Ybarra, M. L. (2008). realities and implications for prevention and treatment. Retrieved from University of New Hampshire website: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/sites/cyber.law.harvard.edu/files/amp%20final.pdf
Wortley, R., & Smallbone, S. (2006). Center for Problem-Oriented Policing | Guide No. 41. Retrieved from http://www.popcenter.org/problems/child_pornography/2