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Every day, children are filmed or photographed while they’re sexually abused and the content is then distributed worldwide. It’s a booming underground industry that continues to grow year after year, and it has an estimated annual revenue of $3 billion dollars.

According to the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection, child pornography is usually distributed two ways. It’s either commercial child pornography that is distributed for profit or non-commercial child pornography that is offered free or traded among offenders, like the P2P networks. ASACP estimates that the United States has the largest share of commercialized child pornography websites with close to 50 percent of the global volume. Websites that distribute commercial child pornography offer thousands of images and videos. Most children exploited are pre-adolescent, and some children appear to have been subjected to physical as well as sexual violence.

The child pornography case of Subway Spokesman Jared Fogle is just the tip of the iceberg. The New York Times reports that by some estimates, 1 percent of the male population continues, long after puberty, to find themselves attracted to prepubescent children. One percent doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up to over 1.1 million men living with this disorder, and that’s just in the United States. These people are living with pedophilia, a sexual attraction to prepubescents that often constitutes a mental illness. While some child-porn viewers can be classified with this diagnosable disorder, others find themselves attracted to pedophilic content after years of legal porn use.

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Here are just a few segments from true stories we’ve received in the thousands of messages sent to us from people all over the world. These real personal accounts let us know that this happens more often than we’d like to think:

My husband constantly looked at porn. First, it was legal, then it was child porn. The second time I caught him looking at child porn I put my foot down and was out the door. I have a five-year-old. I refuse to let a porn addict and pedophile be around my five-year-old. Because I left or tried to, my husband tried to kill me… He’s now facing assault charges and possible child porn charges. The police are watching his every move. I cannot tell you how involved I have become in this movement BECAUSE of my husband. The page really speaks to me. I just wish my husband would have seen this page and listened to its messages before it was too late. -K.

I caught my husband looking at child porn and he is facing criminal charges. I wish he would have seen this site before he did what he did. He is also a victim of child porn when he was a child. How a mother could allow this to happen to their own child just baffles me. STILL, with my husband being a victim, that is no excuse to grow up to be almost 30 and start looking at small children being sexually abused. Disgusting! I felt sorry for my husband, but no more. Children are being exploited every day! -R.

When I was young my grandfather was arrested for possession of child porn. This drove sides of my family apart. It was hard as I was very close with him. I was 10 at the time. I am now 21 and have seen him only a handful of times. I learned porn ruins lives of those who have relatives who are addicted. -T.

I was married to a man that had a porn addiction that over years got out of control and he stumbled into a peer to peer program that allowed him to download all files from other people’s computers and ended up downloading child pornography, he ended up being arrested and my children and I lost our whole lives. -A.

My husband let his addiction grow to the point where he didn’t just watch child porn, he produced it. Of his own child, and he abused him and others. I promise you, this man did not start out this kind of person, anyone who knows how was shocked at this discovery. He became this person! He won’t see his amazing children grow up. He’s lost the love and trust of a good woman who would have given him anything. He has broken countless hearts. The effects of his choices will not cease. -R.

Research shows that child sexual abuse content is a top online concern and at least 1.5 million adults stumble upon it on a regular basis. Some people, however, intentionally go looking for it.

Addiction that Escalates

For some “conventional” porn users, after a while, “regular” porn just doesn’t do it for them anymore. Similar to other drug or behavioral addictions like gambling, research has shown that viewing porn can escalate dramatically. And for some people, porn use can eventually evolve into a curiosity or an appetite for violent porn—or in some rarer cases, even child pornography.

Think about it. Is it logical to think that the first time someone like Jared Fogle viewed porn, he went straight to searching “child porn” or “violent porn” right off the bat? In all actuality, probably not. Criminals caught for child porn most often started out by watching regular porn, and then eventually progressed into the more extreme, illegal material.

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Don’t take our word for it. We once talked to a man in jail who had charges against him for over 40 counts of child porn. We asked him how we got into it all. He told us, “When you’re a porn addict, the same stuff gets boring. You cycle through different phases.”

This sex offender’s statement confirms the research done by Zillmann and Bryant. In 1984, the two researchers conducted a study that revealed an increased interest in violent porn just from exposure to non­-violent pornography. [5] Zillmann also conducted a study with college freshmen and found that frequent use of pornography requires newer and more bizarre material to achieve the same level of arousal, due to a growing tolerance of sexually explicit material. [8] The study showed that extended porn use creates boredom and dissatisfaction among viewers of both genders. [4]

The fact is that after using any drug for a while, the impulse tends to grow and require more intense stimulation for the same high. Just like it is common for gateway drugs like marijuana to lead to harder drugs like cocaine, over time, softcore or “regular” porn can quickly lead into hardcore and potentially even child porn.

The Expanding Child Porn Industry

Child pornography has become more prevalent and larger than we would ever like to imagine. The people who actually get caught for the crime are just a tiny fraction compared to how many are out there. Child pornography is a business that has been expanding virally on the web for years and the material is only getting worse. In 2008, Internet Watch Foundation found 1,536 individual child abuse domains. [7] Every week there are over 20,000 images of child pornography posted on the web (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 2003). Furthermore, U.S Customs Services estimates that illegal child pornography is offered by approximately 100,000 websites.

Keep in mind, while almost all pedophiles watch porn, not all people who watch porn are pedophiles. It’s also important to know that female pedophilia does exist. [2] Although this is rare, females who meet the criteria for pedophilia exhibit similar behavioral tendencies to that of males, such as irrational thoughts. Some differences, however, do exist among males and females. Females who exhibit pedophilia tend to suffer from psychiatric disorders or substance abuse problems. Also, there is a higher correlation between sexual abuses as a child with females compared to males.

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But regardless of what causes what, behavioral psychologists discovered over a century ago that when two stimuli are repeatedly paired together, something called classical conditioning takes place.[3] Using this widely accepted scientific theory, we know that when a person is constantly pairing sexual feelings with the image of children on a screen, sexual feelings will continue to be associated in the presence of a child in real life.

Watching videos of violent or child pornography desensitizes and blurs the lines for the viewer to what is and is not appropriate concerning sexuality. One study revealed that if a person sees aggressive behavior that is rewarded, the person is more likely to engage in that behavior than those who were not exposed. [1] This shows exactly how a child porn viewer who constantly sees certain behaviors eventually becomes accepting of it.

The Costs of Child Porn

We had the opportunity to talk to a girl who was forced into child porn at age five by her mother who was a drug addict. The girl was raped and had pictures and videos taken of her. And when this little girl’s mother tried to get the family out of the child porn business, she was blackmailed by the abuser who threatened to have child protective services take her children away. The family didn’t get out until the little girl and her siblings were “getting too old” and the family had to run away into hiding. Even at the time, we talked to her about this over a decade later, she refused to tell us many details about what happened to her in fear of being found.

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This girl’s therapist concluded that her post-­traumatic stress disorder was a result of these events from her childhood. She has an inability to trust others, suffers from severe anxiety around people over 40 (the age of the abusers in her past), is dealing with drug problems to cope with the pain, and working through major distortions about sexuality. She informed us that sex trafficking is not just a far away practice but that it’s happening here in regular neighborhoods. She continued:

“I think more should be done in communities and neighborhoods and cities to watch out for child sex trafficking. This all happened to my family in a pretty normal working­ class suburb in the northwest. Child pornography—the making of it, the viewing of it, everything about it— to me is worse than [killing] because I would have been happily [killed] if I knew I was going to deal with living my life feeling dead and empty inside already. But that’s what the viewers and people involved in child pornography get off on. I don’t think it will ever be stopped, but hopefully stifled.”

Not only is child pornography or violent pornography damaging to the viewer, it creates a demand and when there is a demand there will always be a supplier ready to make money off of it. Child porn and violent porn viewers do not appear out of thin air, they develop with a history of “regular” pornography use. Porn use is a slippery slope to ideas and behavior that negatively affect the individual and our society as a whole.

What YOU Can Do

This is a huge problem in our society and we can’t let it slip into the background. SHARE this article to take a stand and raise awareness on this issue.

To report an incident involving the possession, distribution, receipt, or production of child pornography, file a report on the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC)’s website at www.cybertipline.com , or call 1-800-843-5678

References

[1] Bandura, A., Ross, D., Ross, A. (1961). Transmission of Aggression Through Imitation. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology.
[2] Chow, Eva W. C.(2002) “Clinical Characteristics and Treatment Response to SSRI in a Female Pedophile.” Archives of Sexual Behavior 31.2 : 211-5.
Day, A., Chung, D., O’Leary, P. & C., Ed (2009). Programs for men who perpetrate domestic violence: an examination of the issues underlying the effectiveness of intervention programs. Journal of Family Violence, Vol.24 (No.3). pp. 203­212. NY, New York City: Springer New York LLC
[3] Pavlov, I. P. (1897/1902). The Work Of The Digestive Glands. London: Griffin. Pavlov, I. P. (1928). Lectures On Conditioned Reflexes. (Translated by W.H. Gantt) London: Allen and Unwin.
[4] Weaver, J. (2004). The Effects of Pornography Addiction on Families and Communities. Washington, DC.
[5] Zillmann, D., Bryant, J. (1984). Effects of massive exposure to pornography. In Malamuth NM and Donnerstein E (Eds): “Pornography and Sexual Aggression.” New York: Academic Press.
[5] Zillmann, D. (1986). The Surgeon General’s Workshop on Pornography and Public Health. Indiana University. Arlington VA.
[7] Enough is Enough (2006). Making the Internet Safer For Children and Families. Retrieved from http://www.enough.org/inside.php?id=3K03RC4L00
[8] Zillmann, D. (2000). Influence of Unrestrained Access To Erotica on Adolescents’ and Young Adults’ Dispositions Toward Sexuality. Journal of Adolescent Health.

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