Thursday, March 29, 2012

So What’s The Big Deal About Watching a Little Child Porn?

Get this. The mother of a 26-year-old man, caught with more than 1,200 images of child pornography on his computer (some of which he traded with others) is trying to get his 14-year sentence shortened. According to her, the fact that he has spina bifida and “could never be a threat to anyone, including a child, “should qualify him for early release.

Okay. Don’t get me started here. I need to wipe the froth from my mouth on this one.

What is this mother thinking and where was she when she had the opportunity to nurture fiber and integrity into the heart of her child? What part of not hurting the children featured in the images is she not getting? Does she not understand that when her son (who is arguably more diseased in his mind than in his body) watches child porn, he is participating in the abuse of that child? If there were no market for the product, there would be no product. The fact that this young man’s hands cannot physically touch the child through the computer screen does not prevent his eyes and brain from doing the job of molestation. People who watch child pornography are child molesters. They just molest with different parts of their bodies than do molesters who are in the actual presence of a child.

The problem is that child molesters don’t just fall out of the sky and appear in our lives; they are raised, often by nice people who would be horrified if they knew what their kids were into. While someone who becomes a child molester is responsible for his or her choices, it’s incumbent on every parent to be vigilant with what their kids are reading and finding on the internet. It’s not nice visiting your loved one in jail, wearing an orange jump-suit.

In the process of doing my research, it appeared that almost every case of child molestation was rooted in some form of pornography. It encourages an appetite for increasingly graphic images that has no bounds.

Michael BriĆ©re was a nice computer worker who never had any involvement with the police, until little Holly Jones walked by his house one day. Little did anyone know that he had been watching child pornography and fantasizing about molesting a real child. When he walked out his door that day, she was “just there” and the rest is tragedy.

Last month, the police arrested 60 men (including three teens) in Ontario and charged them with hundreds of child pornography offenses. These people came from all ages and walks of life - professionals, blue-collar workers - even a day-care worker. Many of them are probably asking, “Hey - what’s the big deal about watching a little child porn?” Some no doubt claim innocence on the grounds that they “didn’t touch any children.”

The subjects of the pornography, 22 little children, have all thankfully been rescued, but their childhoods have been stolen and their lives will never be the same. Their abilities to trust and have normal relationships will be affected for life.

Child pornography is not constructed from bricks and mortar, steel, plastic or fabric. Child pornography uses real children as its raw material - human children with needs, feelings, futures and dependence on adults to keep them safe. According to Karyn Kennedy, executive director at the Toronto-based Boost Child Abuse Prevention and Intervention, “One difficult aspect for victims is that many of the images will be irretrievable now that they’ve been shared online. I’ve heard victims that are 40, 50 years old talking about having to come to terms with knowing that somewhere somebody is looking at a picture of them.”

According to Det.-Sgt. Frank Goldschmidt of the Ontario Provincial Police, “In any of the Canadian crime trends this is probably one of the only crimes that is still on a fairly substantial increase.”

Thank God for the people in the trenches like Insp. Scott Naylor with the OPP’s child sexual exploitation unit who are out there doing all they can to protect our kids. “We’re constantly building software and changing software and manipulating software, because the people who are trading this are constantly moving from one method of training to another.”

They, and every parent with a child who has been abused, understand why watching “a little child porn” is a huge deal.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Two Years for a Lifetime

Two years for Graham James.
A lifetime for his victims.
Yesterday's sentence for James' abuse of Theo Fleury and Todd Holt left everyone shaking their heads in disbelief. How could any judge, with any comprehension of the magnitude of the effects of abuse on a victim and his or her family, determine that a two-year sentence (of which James will probably serve only 16 months) in any way brings justice to the situation.
If Graham James were a first-time offender, one might think that the judge might have had reason to give some credence to his words of remorse and repentance. But Graham James is no first-time offender. A previous conviction (for the abuse of Sheldon Kennedy and another victim) landed him in prison, serving 20 months for a three-and-a-half year sentence. What's his next sentence going to get him? Six months? Probation and a bit of community service with kids?
One of the most dominant characteristics of the character of an abuser is the ability to manipulate people and situations. Yesterday's judgment was a reflection of James' artful power of persuasion with the judge.
There is evidence that prison does its job with some first offenders. There are cases where predators have turned themselves around and gone on to live productive lives. However, a two-time offender needs to be put away where he can no longer threaten the safety of young people. If prison hasn't done its job the first time, it's unlikely that it will turn an offender around the second, third or fourth time. We have to keep our kids safe.
Hopefully, the just-passed omnibus crime bill, C-10, will make people who fantasize about molesting vulnerable kids think twice before daring to indulge their perversions.
Thank God for the architects and labourers of Bill C-10 and the officers in the trenches who strive, day after day, to protect and rescue victims of abuse. Thank God for the clear-headed politicians who made their voices count for the children of Canada.