Computer Crime Research Center


Rise up against globalisation of child porn

Date: October 26, 2004
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: Chris Goddard

Australia--"Child protection services were never discussed, in spite of the system being close to collapse" ...

Our election campaign started and finished with crimes against children. In the early days, the news was dominated by the massacre of children and adults at a school in Beslan, Russia. The story, from so far away, was almost too painful to watch.

I remember driving home with tears in my eyes as I heard of scores of small, charred bodies. On television, we saw half-naked children running from buildings. Unusually, journalists told of how difficult it was to report what had happened: children, denied water, drinking their own urine; other children shot many times in the back - yes, in the back - as they ran away.

Protect your children online now!

The long arm of coincidence ensured that, in the last days of the election campaign, the front pages of our newspapers were again dominated by the suffering of children. Almost 200 suspects were arrested in what The Age described as an "unprecedented swoop on child sex crime".

Operation Auxin involved raids around Australia. The Age gave us the numbers: 2 million pornographic images, 700 suspects in seven states and territories, more than 2000 charges and nearly 400 computers seized.

The NSW Police Commissioner described the crimes as "heinous, vile, despicable". A police spokesman said the pictures were "absolutely shocking; two-year-olds involved in bestiality". Experienced detectives were said to have broken down and cried, with one asking to be transferred to other duties.

The events of Beslan brought us, in words and pictures, the awful pornography of terrorism, a pornography of cruelty to children beyond our comprehension. The terrorists even filmed what they were doing.

The police raids in Australia brought us, in words and pictures, the pornography of children involved in sexual acts for profit, and for the perverted pleasure of some too close to home: police, doctors, priests, teachers and others, some of whom had access to our children.

This is the globalisation of pornography: children on the other side of the world made to perform unspeakable acts for the camera, their images captured using the latest technology, paid for by credit card, one act of rape reaching around the world, repeatedly downloaded in Australia's suburbs. In this pornography, a child may be assaulted forever.

The pictures of such abuse are illegal, so newspapers make do with shots of the police carrying computers, of the accused leaving court, or priests apologising to parishioners.

There was at least one picture, however, that should never have been published. The front page of The Australian (1/10) carried the picture of a mother leaving a child-care centre with her son, both of them identifiable, after the director of the centre was arrested on child pornography charges. In an accompanying, much smaller picture, a suspect is being led away from Sydney airport by two policemen. The suspect, it is interesting to note, is being carefully guided by the officers as he is allowed to protect his identity by wearing a coat over his head.

Other events are equally predictable, given experiences overseas. Several of those investigated have already committed suicide, and there are stories that some suspects have been tipped off. Most of those arrested in Australia are unlikely to be major players, given their willingness to use their credit cards to purchase pornography.

Some will have previous records of possession or sexual assault and will have received light sentences and little assessment. In spite of community revulsion, most of those now under investigation will probably again escape a custodial sentence.

The internet service providers will tell us that they cannot police their own systems, even though if these images were made available in a book the printer, publisher and bookseller would be likely to be charged.

In spite of crimes against children featuring so prominently in the news, children in their own right were never really the focus of our attention during the election campaign. There was a bidding war over child care and a debate over school funding, but most of the discussion involved what parents might want for their children, and what it might cost, not what children need and deserve.

Child protection services were never discussed, in spite of the system being close to collapse, in the face of close to 200,000 referrals a year. Operation Auxin will once again expose the fractured nature and low priority of such services. The same crimes in different states will receive different penalties, even if the pornographic material originates in the same place and depicts the same acts with the same child.

In a final coincidence, at the end of the election campaign, the High Court unanimously upheld Parliament's right to hold children in immigration detention. What is especially interesting is that, when we want to deprive children of their freedom, there is absolutely no differentiation between the states and territories.

Furthermore, it is presumably now possible to hold a child for the rest of his or her life, given the judgement that there is no differentiation between adults and children. Every child in immigration detention is thus beyond child protection.

Yet we know that children are different. They deserve and require special protection. This is why the children of Beslan will always be imprinted on our minds, and the mere thought of a connection between bestiality and infancy tears at our hearts.

It is no coincidence that new technologies appear to provide new ways of using and abusing children, rather than increased opportunities for protecting them. This will change only if everyone in our community, every level of government, every company and every individual chooses to give children's rights to protection absolute priority, and takes all crimes against children seriously.

Associate Professor Chris Goddard is the interim director of Monash University's national research centre for the prevention of child abuse.

Add comment  Email to a Friend

Discussion is closed - view comments archieve
2009-06-20 16:15:52 - Z363934853419 E339991315477 Help who... Dima
2006-10-09 10:57:42 - On tablets how many are harmful to growing... AkelloDWT
2006-07-11 20:27:57 - I like the pedofilia, the world needs the... Mario Marin
2005-12-11 08:45:38 - child porn needs to be stopped mike
2004-12-13 20:10:22 - I am a studentdoing research on child... Tommy
2004-11-30 00:57:29 - This is making me cry, i have a girlfriend... robin
2004-11-16 09:44:13 - This is a huge problem, and has been on... KuatO
2004-11-04 14:13:13 - This is very shocking to be happening Lihle
2004-10-28 14:08:55 - The pedophiles are out there people ! Help... jackofghetto
Total 9 comments
Copyright © 2001-2013 Computer Crime Research Center
CCRC logo