What is Child Pornography?
Child pornography is any form of media that displays children in a lewd or sexual way including photographs, videos, computer-generated images, cartoons, or drawings. Courts have upheld convictions for the creation of websites, photographs, videos, and even cartoons that display inappropriate child nudity or portray children involved in sexual acts. Child pornography is considered a record of child abuse; therefore, the creation, distribution, and possession of child pornography is punishable by federal law.
A movement is now underway to replace the term child pornography with the term child abuse images. Some believe pornography implies consent, and is therefore a misleading term to describe media that is more accurately defined as a record of child abuse. 1
- More than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted every day. 2
- Approximately 20% of all Internet pornography involves children. 3
- Child pornography is a $3 billion annual industry. 4
- The number of Internet child pornography images has increased 1500% in the past twenty years. 5
Concerns for Parents
- Your child may be involved in child pornography through sexting. If your child has a sexually explicit picture of another minor on his or her cell phone, he or she could be faced with criminal charges.
- Even scarier, your kids could be actively participating in sexting by creating sexual images of themselves or their friends.
- If you have posted pictures of your children online, it is possible that those images have been taken and photoshopped in a manner that makes them child pornography.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- Talk to your kids about sexting! Be sure they understand that in addition to being highly inappropriate, even the most marginal involvement in sexting could lead to serious legal consequences.
- Think before posting pictures of your children online. A great way to keep yourself safe is to reserve the posting of pictures to a closed blog or a Facebook profile. By doing this, you can choose who can and cannot access your photos.
Innocent Images National Initiative
- Online organizations, enterprises, and communities that exploit children for profit or personal gain.
- Major distributors of child pornography, such as those who appear to have transmitted a large volume of child pornography via an online computer on several occasions to several other people.
- Producers of child pornography.
- Individuals who travel, or indicate a willingness to travel, for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a minor.
- Possessors of child pornography.
On the Initiative website, links to a number of resources can be found, including parent guides, news articles, links to sex offender registries, and ways to report the sexual exploitation of minors.
Other resources provided include the Crimes Against Children program and Innocence Lost - a program dedicated to the fight against child prostitution.
What Specific Child Pornography Laws Have Been Passed?
In the United States, the creation, manufacture, and possession of child pornography is punishable under several laws:
U.S. Code, Title 18, Chapter 110
Several sections of this chapter discuss child pornography.
2251—Sexual exploitation of children is defined. Anyone guilty of sexually exploiting a minor will be fined and given no less than 15 years in prison. A person with multiple previous offenses may be sentenced to life imprisonment. Child trafficking is also defined; offenders will be fined and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison.
2252—Possessing child pornography or transporting child pornography across state or international borders is prohibited. Because of the complex nature of Internet servers and networks, virtually all Internet child pornography fits into this category and therefore enters federal jurisdiction. Those who transport or possess child pornography may spend five or more years in prison. Concessions are made for those who "promptly and in good faith" deliver the materials to law enforcement. This protects those who receive unwanted obscene materials by email or through "sexting."
2258—Any person failing to report violation of child pornography laws may be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor.
2260—Any person outside of the United States who brings child pornography within American borders may be fined or sentenced to time in prison. 6
Where Can I Learn More?
Take a look at the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection website for more information about protecting yourself and reporting inappropriate web pages.
Read about this anti-child pornography tool Microsoft donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.