Canadian Children's Rights Council
Conseil canadien des droits des enfants
Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

Information Week

Study: Child Porn Isn't Illegal In Most Countries

A review of child pornography laws in 184 countries shows that more than half have no laws that address child pornography.

InformationWeek, U.S.A. By Thomas Claburn, April 6, 2006

At a press conference in Washington, D.C., the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and other participants, including Microsoft , presented a study on Thursday revealing the woeful inadequacy of child pornography laws around the world.

ICMEC's global policy review of child pornography laws in 184 Interpol-member countries showed that more than half have no laws that specifically address child pornography, and in many others the existing laws are insufficient.

"It's hard to arrest and prosecute if you don't have the legal foundation on which to build," said Ernie Allen, ICMEC president and CEO.

The ICMEC study found that possession of child pornography isn't a crime in 138 countries. In 122 countries, there's no law dealing with the use of computers and the Internet as a means of child porn distribution.

"One of the greatest challenges we are confronted with is child safety, child protection, and child rights," said Baron Daniel Cardon de Lecture, chairman of ICMEC. Most of the countries in the world, he said, "have no meaningful system to adequately and effectively combat sexual exploitation of children."

Only five countries--Australia, Belgium, France, South Africa, and the United States--have laws deemed adequate by ICMEC to address the issue.

ICMEC acknowledges that the scope of the problem is difficult to determine, but statistics suggest that the production and consumption of child pornography is on the rise throughout the world. In 2005, the U.S.-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children fielded 340,000 calls to its CyberTipline, up from more than 24,400 in 2001. This may reflect increased awareness of the tip line as well as an increase in the amount of child pornography.

The national center says 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys in the United States are sexually exploited before they reach adulthood. Less than 35% of those child sexual assaults are reported to authorities.

David Townsend, CEO of eFor, a computer forensics company, has served as an expert witness in several high-profile court cases. He believes the prevalence of child pornography is on the rise. It's the result, he says, of the anonymity that people believe they have online. "Twenty years ago, child predators used to go to circuses and playgrounds," he says. "Today they go online to places like Yahoo Groups and MySpace."

The production of child pornography is also becoming Read More ..ofessional. According to de Lecture, child pornography is thriving because it's profitable and relatively risk-free compared to other criminal enterprises like weapon or drug smuggling. "There is a huge consumer market for child pornography," he lamented. "Child pornography is enormously profitable, and there is, for the moment, no risk. There is risk for dealing with arms. There is risk in dealing with drugs. There is no risk in trading your children today in three-quarters of the world."

Microsoft is among those working to change that: It has sponsored seminars around the world that have helped train some 1,322 law enforcement officials from 89 countries to better investigate and prosecute child pornography.

In a phone interview following the press conference, Tim Cranton, director of Internet safety, legal and corporate affairs, for Microsoft, explained that despite interest from foreign law enforcement agencies in dealing with child pornography, police abroad often lack the technical knowledge necessary to deal with child porn on computers.

Though child pornography remains a growing problem, MEC's Allen says there's reason to be optimistic because other nations are responding. He says he hopes child pornography can be driven from the Internet by 2008.

Canadian flag
Health Canada Publication

The Invisible Boy: Revisioning the Victimization of Male Children and Teens

"... the existence of a double standard in the care and treatment of male victims, and the invisibility and normalization of violence and abuse toward boys and young men in our society.

Despite the fact that over 300 books and articles on male victims have been published in the last 25 to 30 years, boys and teen males remain on the periphery of the discourse on child abuse.

Few workshops about males can be found at most child abuse conferences and there are no specialized training programs for clinicians. Male-centred assessment is all but non-existent and treatment programs are rare. If we are talking about adult males, the problem is even greater. A sad example of this was witnessed recently in Toronto. After a broadcast of The Boys of St. Vincent, a film about the abuse of boys in a church-run orphanage, the Kids' Help Phone received over 1,000 calls from distraught adult male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. It is tragic in a way no words can capture that these men had no place to turn to other than a children's crisis line." Read More ..