Thursday, April 28, 2005

The Disturbing World We Live In

There is a child pornography story out of Orlando, Florida that CNN has been covering. It involves a joint effort of Florida and Canadian law enforcement officials to find one young girl who has been seen in many child pornography photographs they have come across. One of the many problems law enforcement officials face when it comes to child pornography are the laws that prohibit making photos of children who are victims of sexual crimes public. When law enforcement cannot include the public’s help in searching for victims of child pornography, it makes it very difficult to find and stop the people responsible. This story is newsworthy because it shows the creative efforts of the law enforcement officials to track down the victim within the limits of the law. They have showed a picture where the girl has been removed and only the background remains and asked for the public’s help in identifying the location (which they found out was a resort in Disney World). And yesterday they released a picture of a young girl who has not been seen in any illicit pictures, but might be connected to, or have information about, the other girl they have been looking for. These efforts to exhaust every legal avenue possible to find the girl, while also protecting her privacy, are laudable. But the truly disturbing piece of information comes at the end of the CNN article:

“According to Gillespie, police around the world have identified fewer than 500 of the estimated 50,000 children seen in online pornography -- or just 1 percent.”

That law enforcement officials can continue in their work knowing they are making such a small dent in such a big problem is amazing. But it also makes me wonder if maybe we should allow pictures of the victims to be made public. Part of me feels that the chance to free these children outweighs the privacy concerns of the victims. At the very least though, one solution I heard yesterday makes sense: allow photos of the victims’ faces to be made public, but release them with missing children photos. This way we can find the children without announcing to the world that they are victims of sexual crimes. Maybe then we can make a bigger dent in this horrifying problem.