The Destructive Force Of Child Pornography

Child pornography is a growing problem in the Internet age, as predators target children and youth online with the help of now-commonplace technologies that allow them to remain anonymous.

Our team of experienced lawyers can help victims find justice and compensation against child pornographers through civil litigation, even if perpetrators are already going through a criminal investigation or serving time for previous sentences.

Brian Kent “Child pornography hurts victims immensely, not only through the violence in making it, but also through the permanent breach of privacy that impacts a survivor’s sense of dignity.”

— Brian Kent, Esq.

 

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The technological advances and ease of communication fostered by the Internet, while responsible for many positive developments in recent history, has also facilitated the rapid growth of problems such as child pornography.

American children and teens spend a staggering amount of time online, where it’s easier than ever for predators to target them by stalking their social media profiles, befriending them to lure them to in-person meetings where they may be sexually abused, or forcing or coercing them to send nude or sexually graphic images.

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Child pornography has a horrifying capacity for harming children—not only are the victims depicted in the initial images or video footage often subjected to physical and sexual violence during production, their unspeakable suffering is constantly distributed and viewed without their consent. Worse yet, consumption of child pornography is highly correlated with other types child sex abuse—sex offenders who view and possess child pornography often end up committing additional sex crimes against children. Thankfully, production, distribution, and possession of child pornography are all considered serious crimes in every state, subject to both criminal and civil law.

What Is Child Pornography?

Child pornography (also referred to with the term preferred by many advocates, “sexual abuse imagery of children”) is any visual depiction of a minor being subjected to sexual acts or shown in a sexually explicit manner. This includes photos and videos of actual children as well as any images / footage featuring subjects that were obviously created or digitally manipulated to resemble children. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, possession of such material is considered a serious criminal offense in all 50 states and often leads to conviction as a sex offender as well as sentences with jail time.

Child Porn “Industry” Flourishes Online

Tragically, child pornography is spreading faster than ever, with pedophiles taking full advantage of the Internet and associated technologies to aid them in creating, viewing, and sharing it.

Readily Available Information

With so many children and teens using popular social media platforms, often providing their real names, locations, and other sensitive personal information, it can be easy for child pornographers and sex traffickers to stalk them virtually. Aside from contact information and hints about daily routines such as school schedules, details that would assist in finding the child in person, predators might look for hints of the child’s likes and dislikes and other characteristics that might help them befriend the child through chatting online.

Possibility of Anonymity

Before the Internet was so widely-used, predators would have to meet in person or rely on mail delivery in order to obtain child pornography, but nowadays, it’s fairly easy to obtain illicit photos and videos while remaining anonymous. This is achieved through using methods such as peer-to-peer networks that allow predators to trade pornographic files directly with each other and virtual private networks (VPNs) that allow users to conceal their IP addresses as they browse illegal content.

Hacking & Malware

If predators know how to compromise the security of a child’s computer, they can obtain photos, videos, and sensitive personal files without the child ever even knowing about it. One of the most horrifying examples is the use of Remote Administration Tools (RATs) to remotely gain complete control of a victim’s computer, including hardware such as webcams. In this way, hackers can steal any of the child’s files, as well as remotely switch on the webcam to take photos and record videos of children at will.

Right To Compensation Under Masha’s Law

Thankfully, victims of child pornography are currently able to take legal action against perpetrators. Masha’s Law is a federal law that permits children who were exploited through child pornography to file civil lawsuits against individuals guilty of producing, distributing or possessing sexually abusive images and videos of them.

The law also establishes a $150,000 minimum in damages for each plaintiff. Even if the defendant already owes compensation to a plaintiff from a criminal lawsuit, Masha’s Law supports the child pornography survivor’s right to request further compensation with a civil suit.

Masha’s Law was named after a young Russian-born woman who was adopted at 5 years old by a child pornographer, who sexually abused her on film and distributed the footage online. After the FBI identified and contacted her to give testimony for a criminal case against her abuser, the girl changed her name to protect her privacy. She also later filed a $20 million civil lawsuit against her criminal “stepfather,” who was sentenced to over 15 years in prison for his crimes against her and other girls that he abused on videotape, including his own daughter.

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