Protecting Children from Pornography

Overview

The internet has greatly increased the impact of pornography on children in two ways.

First, children now have unprecedented potential access to pornography through their internet at home, through library or school internet connections, and now, even through their cell phones and video game consoles.

Second, child pornographers have used the internet to create a system of exchange and distribution of child pornography, making it more widely and anonymously available than ever before. Protecting children from pornography is more critical and challenging than ever.

Issue Analysis

Child Pornography

The internet is now the primary vehicle for the distribution of child pornography.

  • By some reports, child pornography is estimated to be as much as a $50 billion a year industry.[1]
  • Experts estimate that there are more than a million pornographic images of children available on the internet at any one time, and that there could be as many as 200 new images posted every day.
  • It has also been estimated that there are between 50,000 and 100,000 pedophiles involved in child pornography rings, and one-third of them operate in the United States.[2]
  • In 2012, 54 percent of child sexual abuse websites were hosted in North America.[3]

Not only is child pornography evidence of actual sex crimes against children, child molesters also use child pornography to lure children into cooperating in sexual acts with them and as a way to create new child pornography. In a study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 40 percent of child pornography possessors not only possessed child pornography but had also victimized children themselves.[4] The growing number of children who have been exploited and trafficked worldwide is intimately connected to the explosion of child pornography during the past several decades.

Children Online

Children are particularly vulnerable to the easy availability of internet pornography, as revealed by these statistics:[5]

  • Average age of first internet exposure to pornography is 11 years old.
  • There are 4.2 million pornographic websites (12% of all websites).
  • 93% of boys and 62% of girls report seeing pornography before the age of 18.
  • Eight out of 10 emails sent every day to school email addresses are unwanted spam, and over half of those contain pornographic content.[6]
  • 1 in 7 youths have received online sexual solicitation.
  • Two in five abductions of children ages 15-17 are due to internet contact.[7]

Analysts expect the cell phone porn delivery market to reach $2.8 billion by 2015.[8] Today’s technology-savvy children are especially vulnerable to marketers’ efforts to push pornography on every type of mobile and media device.

Steps to Protect Children

The first defense against child exposure to pornography and exploitation is vigilance by parents. With just a few simple steps, parents can greatly minimize the chances that their children will be exposed to pornography:[9]

  • Use a good internet filter (Bsecure.com), or subscribe to a filtered internet service (Integrityonline.com).
  • Be cognizant that pornographers are trying to reach teens with pornography even when the child is not actively seeking it. 79 percent of unwanted exposure of youth to pornography happens right in the home.[10]
  • Keep the computer in a high traffic area, never in a child’s bedroom, even if filtered internet service is used. No filter is 100 percent effective, and savvy children can circumvent many filters.
  • Do not allow children to use chat rooms, where pedophiles and porn peddlers often lurk.
  • Monitor use of video game consoles, which often have internet access and movie-playing capability.
  • Instruct children not to give out any personal information to anyone they may meet on the internet. This is particularly important with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, where children might unwittingly provide a predator with details like their birth date, where they go to school, and the route they take walking home.
  • Supervise children’s use of email and instant messaging to make sure that they are used appropriately.
  • Monitor your child’s usage of online social networks. Sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are used by predators to spread pornography and connect with vulnerable teens. Craigslist is also used by predators to seek out victims for sexual exploitation.
  • Make certain your local library is complying with state and federal laws, which require that libraries filter internet access that may be used by children and take steps to ensure children are not otherwise exposed to pornography. Center for Arizona Policy (CAP) supported this legislation in Arizona.
  • If your child has a cell phone that is capable of receiving pictures or video, familiarize yourself with how the phone works and check it frequently for pornographic content. Also scrutinize the cell phone bill to check for charges which may indicate porn purchases.
  • Be aware of common sexual text messaging slang and abbreviations:
    • GNOC (get naked on cam)
    • TDTM (talk dirty to me)
    • PRON (porn)
    • NIFOC (naked in front of computer)
    • CD9 (code 9 – parents are around)
    • POS (parent over shoulder)
    • P911 (parent alert)
  • If your child has a smartphone with internet capability, contact your carrier about parental control options or install a mobile internet filter such as SafeEyes.
  • Talk to your children about the dangers of “sexting” (sending sexually explicit pictures via text message). Though the practice is illegal, it is still extremely popular among teens. Explain to your kids that once an image is sent, it can never be taken back, and the sender loses all control over how the picture is used or distributed.
  • Any plastic-wrapped magazines received through the mail containing no return address should be inspected by an adult or thrown away.

Talking Points

  • Pornography addiction can start at a very young age. With pornography being more accessible than ever, children run a greater risk today to be exposed and develop an addiction.
  • The porn industry profits off of child pornography. By some reports, child pornography is estimated to be as much as a $50 billion a year industry.
  • Viewing child pornography is exploitive. From the producers to the viewers, child pornography exploits, endangers, and forever scars children. There is never a reason to engage in this industry.

Conclusion

Even those who do not have children can make an important difference in protecting children from pornography through elections. Voters need to cast informed votes based on where elected officials, particularly law enforcement officials, stand on the issue of vigorously enforcing the laws against obscene, hardcore pornography.

© January 2014 Center for Arizona Policy, Inc. All rights reserved.
This publication includes summaries of many complex areas of law and is not specific legal advice to any person. Consult an attorney if you have questions about your specific situation or believe your legal rights have been infringed. This publication is educational in nature and should not be construed as an effort to aid or hinder any legislation.


[1] Child Pornography, College of Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, www.ed.uiuc.edu/wp/netfiles.uiuc.edu/kleckaus/www/childpornography.html (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[2] Richard Wortley & Stephen Smallbone, Child Pornography¸United States Department of Justice, 2006, available at www.cops.usdoj.gov/files/ric/Publications/e04062000.pdf.

[3] IWF Operational Trends 2012, Internet Watch Foundation, 2012, www.iwf.org.uk/resources/trends (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[4] Janis Wolak, et al., Child Pornography Possessors Arrested in Internet-Related Crimes: Findings from the National Juvenile Online Victimization Study, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (2005), available at www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC144.pdf.

[5] Luke Gilkerson, Pornography Statistics, Covenant Eyes (2013), www.covenanteyes.com/2013/02/19/pornography-statistics/ (last visited Sept. 22, 2013); Internet Pornography Statistics, Top Ten Reviews, www.internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[6] Owen Gibson, Children suffer from deluge of porn spam, The Guardian, May 4, 2004, available at www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2004/may/04/spam.newmedia.

[7] Statistics on Pornography, Sexual Addiction and Online Perpetrators, Safe Families, available at www.safefamilies.org/sfStats.php (last visited on Sept. 22, 2013).

[8] Luke Gilkerson, Pornography Statistics, Covenant Eyes (2013), www.covenanteyes.com/2013/02/19/pornography-statistics/ (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[9] A Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety, Federal Bureau of Investigation, www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/parent-guide (last visited Sept. 22, 2013).

[10] Janis Wolak, et al., Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later, Crimes Against Children Research Center (2006), available at www.missingkids.com/en_US/publications/NC167.pdf.