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The Internet has made it easier for child abusers to document and anonymously post proof of their vile deeds for like-minded individuals to view. And, according to Peter Davies, director of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the United Kingdom, the victims appear “to be getting younger and younger.”
The BBC reported that Davies “told the Culture, Media and Sport Committee the dissemination of pictures of abuse had become ‘industrialised.’
“Most victims were under the age of 10, with images including rape, [Members of Parliament] heard.”
The child pornography market has also exploded in the United States, where, according to Mr. Davies, half of the websites distributing such images are based.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, “…child pornography images are readily available through virtually every Internet technology including websites, email, instant messaging/ICQ, Internet Relay Chat (IRC), newsgroups, bulletin boards, peer-to-peer networks, and social networking sites. Child pornography offenders can connect on Internet networks and forums to share their interests, desires, and experiences abusing children in addition to selling, sharing, and trading images.”
While the Internet has made it easier for offenders to connect with one another, their sheer numbers have made it more difficult to bring them to justice.
“In a typical week, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Virginia fields about 10,000 child pornography-related tips, said Michelle Collins, vice president of the center’s exploited children division. About 91 million child porn images and videos have been seized by authorities since 2002,” The Dallas Morning News reported.
“In comparison, the number of child pornography arrests is small: An estimated 5,000 people nationwide were arrested in child porn crimes, such as possession or distribution, in 2009, the latest figures from the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire,” the newspaper stated. “Law enforcement groups target the problem, but their numbers are small and the caseload heavy.”
Speaking at the National Strategy Conference on Combating Child Exploitation in San Jose, California, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said, “Unfortunately, we’ve also seen a historic rise in the distribution of child pornography, in the number of images being shared online, and in the level of violence associated with child exploitation and sexual abuse crimes. Tragically, the only place we’ve seen a decrease is in the age of victims.”