Fact: Child Pornography is Sex Trafficking

To the average person on the street, child sexual abuse and human sex trafficking likely don't come to mind when the topic of porn comes up. They probably think of the "sex-craving goddesses" that are marketed on popular porn sites and the infinite fantasy world of sex that can be found online.

To many, these may seem like completely separate issues, separate industries. After all, it’s a felony to even view child pornography in the United States, and human sex trafficking is a global issue that only happens in places like Thailand and Russia, right?

Wrong.

The fact is, child porn and sex trafficking are both inseparably linked to the porn industry, and they all coexist to fuel the demand for sexual exploitation.

Think about this—one of the most-searched terms year after year on the world’s largest porn site is “teen.” And while the performers are generally not actually underaged, the content focuses specifically on sexualizing the abuse and manipulation of adolescents. The common scenario within this popular "teen" porn genre is a teenage girl getting taken advantage of by an older male. However, in countless cases, this is the actual scenario, not a scripted fantasy. Many high school teenage girls are tricked into doing porn, sex trafficked by pimps, or are otherwise sexually abused. Fantasizing this reality through porn is contributing to the issue.

The fact is, child porn and sex trafficking are both inseparably linked to the porn industry, and they all coexist to fuel the demand for sexual exploitation.


Another issue is that for those who view porn frequently, the leap between child and adult content gets smaller and smaller. For example, in one real life example, a man in Buffalo, New York who was initially viewing adult websites accidentally came across material depicting actual child sexual abuse. Shocked and curious, he found himself pursuing more child pornography.

Child pornography has become more prevalent than we ever could have imagined; the people who actually get caught for possessing it are just the tip of the iceberg. The exploitation of minors for commercial purposes is a business that has been virally expanding on the web for years, and the material is getting worse and more hardcore every year. In 2008, Internet Watch Foundation found 1,536 individual child abuse domains. According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, every week, there are over 20,000 images of child pornography posted on the web. Furthermore, U.S Customs Services estimates that illegal child pornography is offered by approximately 100,000 websites. According to a 2009 United Nations Human Rights Council Report, the production and distribution of child pornography has an estimated value of between $3 billion and $20 billion. It’s a booming business, and its effects are spreading quickly.

Just recently in Toronto, Canada, nearly 400 children were rescued and 348 adults arrested following a massive international child pornography investigation that took down a $4 million child porn production empire that distributed its illegal content to over 50 countries worldwide. Police seized over 45 terabytes of child porn in the bust. What was most alarming about this case? Many of the arrests were of people who worked with or closely interacted with children. Among those arrested were 40 school teachers, nine doctors and nurses, six law enforcement personnel, nine pastors and priests, and three foster parents.

Related: Child Cybersex Trafficking - Heart Wrenching Viral Video Shines Light on Global Issue

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) compiled a qualitative review of over one hundred scientific studies, court cases and personal accounts detailing the effects of adult pornography on the sexual exploitation of children. Covering a wide range of factors, from the escalating nature of pornography addiction, to pornography’s role in pedophilia and child abuse, the review provides a chilling glimpse into the world of child pornography and its users.
 

Every week, there are over 20,000 images of child pornography posted on the web.

The review cited court cases that reveal the pattern of escalation that these individuals undergo. For many, what initially began as a fascination with adult pornography, progressed to an involvement with child pornography. The following accounts are excerpts from two separate court cases. They demonstrate how an involvement with adult pornography can escalate into darker behaviors:

“From a young age I had access to pornography. My parents had a suitcase locked away with pornography in it. My brother and I found the key and I would frequently get it unbeknownst to my parents. This coupled with my curiosity about girls was the impetus for my porn addiction. In college I continued to purchase porn but it wasn’t until the Internet that I really developed an insatiable appetite for it. It was so easy to get…I found others who loved porn and would steer me towards various sites. I would look up any type of porn I could think of. I found myself wanting more original/amateur and unique pics…It wasn’t till someone sent me a child pornography picture that I gained a curiosity for it. It spiraled out of hand as I found it so easy to obtain. I tried numerous times to delete all porn and not look but I always went back. I spent hours upon hours looking and talking online and had even skipped classes or gone in late to work because of it.” [1]

“One of the men arrested, [Defendant], who…allegedly abused his 18-month-old daughter — said he started watching child pornography after getting “burned out” by regular porn. He needed something more titillating. Something a little sicker. That’s not that unusual for people addicted to Internet porn. Researchers have been finding that Internet porn addicts can build up a tolerance to it and need more and more stimulation. ‘There is something physiologically addicting about it, the flickering images’ compared with looking at photos or porn magazines’, says California psychologist Dr. Barry Gordon.” [2]

In each case, the defendant’s issues began with an exposure and attraction to pornography. Over time, the thrill of regular adult pornography wore off—it wasn’t enough anymore. To quote one defendant, he became “burned out.” So, they pushed the limits, and pursued heavier and heavier material to satisfy their growing struggle and growing need for more illicit material.

In both of these cases, and the millions that go unexposed every year, there is a real child behind them. Coerced, abused, and neglected, these children are the victims of heinous crimes that are then seen and shared by child porn users around the world. And each click, download, and share just increases the demand for more.

If we are going to put an end to human sex trafficking, there's no better place to start than with our society's obsession with porn. By decreasing the demand through education on its harms, we can make a difference and help create a world without exploitation.

 

Written by Fight the New Drug

To find out more about Fight the New Drug visit their site

Citations

[1]  United States v. Honnold, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7025 (N.D. Ohio).

[2] J. Hunter, “Pedophiles haunt Internet porn sites,” Chicago Sun Times, 22 March 2006.