Online Child Abuse

“We will really catch them. We will really put them in jail and they will die in jail,” a leading South East Asia Human Trafficking investigator said.

I love this statement and how some countries deal with paedophiles. Unfortunately, there are countries like Australia, who continue to preach against child abuse, but have a deplorable system, that is more interested in protecting paedophiles, not children.

Online Exploitation is the fastest growing form of child abuse. There are numerous reasons why. Paedophiles thinking they will not be caught, difficulties in authorities investigation, lack of evidence, poverty and lack of education are just a few…

Parents and relatives in poor communities around the world turn to online exploitation for easy money. Foreign paedophiles find it easy and cheap to get off behind their computers, while their victims are often thousands of miles away. Some consider it benign, because they think children don’t mind taking off their clothes. But that exposure is absolutely abuse, and it often escalates into more vial acts.

It’s a common myth for some of the victims or their parents that nothing is wrong. That these children are not physically touched and the perpetrators are actually overseas. This is a whole different world compared to a paedophile parent sexually abusing their children, a world everyone must started opening their eyes to.

The world needs to understand it’s not just a virtual crime… it’s an actual evil crime. Online sexual exploitation is possibly the most evil thing my team and I have seen. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something new is spotted online in the DarkWeb.

It is however a relatively new crime, with the first high-profile international case of livestreaming sexual exploitation of children being reported in 2011 out of the Philippines. Since 2011 the proliferation of smart devices and internet have led to rapid growth. Every child with a smart device is a potential victim.

Experienced paedophiles now use bitcoin or untraceable credit cards. By livestreaming, they bypass digital markers that the authorities embeds in illegal content to catch people downloading, sharing or saving child pornography on computers or in the cloud. Once isolated, pedophiles now operate with virtual anonymity, sharing images and children, usually in the DarkWeb. We also know many convicted paedophiles whilst in prison segregated from the general public, with other paedophiles, teach each other tricks as well as educating themselves on secret cyber language they communicate with online, and ways to conceal child images, ready for their release back into the community.

In 2013, researchers at the Netherlands-based nonprofit Terre des Hommes launched a realistic-looking animation of a 10-year-old Filipino girl named Sweetie. They took the fake girl on chat groups and online forums, and pedophiles swarmed. In 10 weeks, analysts identified 1,000 men in 71 countries who had tried to get illegal images. Chat groups and Social Media platforms are full of fake profiles used by paedophiles and their associates in grooming, abusing, harassing, stalking and just being pests.

Due to online exploitation being a newer crime, legal systems grapple with how to prosecute. In the US, the buyers typically are charged with possessing, distributing or producing child pornography. In the Philippines, it’s a human trafficking crime. In 2015, five people were convicted of online child sex trafficking in the Philippines. Good English and poverty, are reasons why the Philippines is a haven for both sex tourism and online web abuse.

This is why Project Rescue Children is trying to raise public awareness, letting parents and children know it’s illegal. As so often is the case… one woman in the Philippines forced into prostitution as a child turned the cameras on her own kids when she grew up. She thought that’s already the norm. This is why PRC brings awareness. We need to break this cycle in order to have any chance of future generations being saved.

Many paedophiles have devices which can be wiped clean and reset as easy as having a four-digit code or password at the ready in case they are raided by police. One convicted paedophile had more than 4,000 contacts. One computer had another 13 networked into it, from servers around the world. There were 30 hard drives. There’s always a digital footprint and it that’s the most time consuming and frustrating thing for authorities. It’s basically a cat and mouse game between the paedohile and authorities. Unfortunately, the numbers are stacked against the authorities.

Let’s also not forget, many paedophiles are really highly technical people, they are computer savvy, making it very difficult for authorities to investigate, as the paedophiles are able to hide several computers within the computer. It’s really a mind field for investigators. These days investigators rely on digital forensics to prosecute, as well as lead them to rescue possibly dozens, possibly hundreds, of victims.

And let’s not forget continents like Africa, where online accessibility is become more widely available, but a long way behind other continents. I can guarantee you now, it’s already starting to happen, there will be an explosion into online exploitation of children in Africa.

To me, raping an innocent child online, whether you are thousands of miles away, is just the same as being in the same room or when a parent rapes their own child.

So it’s vital those who don’t abuse children, stand together, stand up and protect our most valuable assets… our kids.

Adam Whittington 👍

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