The New Complexities of Child Sexual Abuse in the Internet Age
The proliferation of social networking sites, and online personals such as Craigslist, presents new challenges for children and their parents. Exploitation of children has societal costs, including increased attempted suicide rates of victims, transmission of STDs, dependency on alcohol and drugs. These are human costs to the fabric of our society as well as economic costs of not spending enough to deter with current programs, as well as, finding new ways to deter, or educate our community about the problem.
The three most common areas of Internet activity and their affects on child sexual abuse are: (1) Child Pornography, (2) Solicitation of minors for sexual purposes, and (3) child prostitution. Each of these areas of Internet activity have had varying implications of child sexual abuse, and each need to be handled in different ways in order to prevent their rising use.
Laws have been enacted recently to combat the child pornography problem. Within the United States the governance of the collective laws are managed by the Prosecutorial Remedies and Other Tools to end the Exploitation of Children Today (PROTECT) Act 2003. The penalties are stiff even for first time offenders, for the possession, manufacture, and distribution of child pornography, one can spend 15-20 years of imprisonment (Beech, Elliot, Birgden, Findlater, 2008). The actual conviction rate of men committing sexual abuse against children actually receives lighter sentences than men convicted of sexual assault against women (Hodgson, Kelly 2004).
The child pornography laws seem straight—forward, but there are gradations in what constitutes a pornographic image, and to further add complexity there has been debate as to whether the mere possession of such pornographic materials necessarily translates into an individual performing in the activities of a sexual offender. There have been comprehensive...