A frustration burns inside me due to the apathy of people in this world transposed against the pain and struggles of those I help that were victimized as children... Not to mention the many Ark of Hope for Children has yet to reach. I am often undaunted in my chosen passion to right the lives of those whose lives have been turned upside down by such internal pain. I trudge through boldly, with a resolute happiness that my life can be used to help them build upon their painful pasts towards strong and empowered futures.
That being said my heart has begun weighing heavy so I decided to open the eyes of those willing to listen and, for at least a moment, walk in the shoes of one of those we help. I want people to imagine the various sorts of pain they suffer through not just from having to live with it, but build upon that same broken foundation. Too many face this challenge in hopelessness, in fear and in silence.
The one of their hurdles that disrupts me today is for children that have been sexually exploited while their abusers use cameras and video equipment to profit off of their pain and shame.
Indeed, some may not "profit," but still they gloat as they share those pictures with others as a trophy, or use them privately and repeatedly themselves to bring back waves of sensuality in their self-indulgent yet sadistic world.
The truth is the abundance of mostly, but definitely not all, males with hyper-sexuality has multiplied, fed by an abundance of pornography on the internet from a criminal element that is more than willing to exploit anyone's body for money. The $3 billion per year business of selling images and videos of child sexual exploitation has been exploding.
It may appear fortunate that Google and Microsoft announced plans to block searches for child porn in November of 2013.
What? You didn't know that was there right under our apathetic noses?
Yes it has indeed been quite easily found on the internet. News stories as late as February of 2015 show how their efforts are actually working, for those two search giants at least. Sadly, many of the apathetic, or international, or smaller less known search engines still allow the searches for child sexual exploitation.
Then there is the "Dark Net". The place few of us apathetic internet surfers know about, but is estimated to be as much as 80 times larger than the internet we know of. In the "Deep Web" all sorts of criminal activity takes place, including the trading of child porn and trafficking of humans to cause pain or pleasure, or both. Special "Tor" browsers have been developed with the specific intent to remain anonymous while searching within the Dark Net to feed those willing to trade there. To their credit the US government has more recently created the "Memex" search engine to catch these cyber criminals lurking within the dark Web.
As one news story points out, the searching may have become harder, but that does nothing to stop the criminal element willing to feed the out of control habit people have for fantasizing about sex with children. And we can rest easier now knowing that it's being forced back underground, right? Think again!
Ark of Hope for Children has a vast social network that covers most of the major social network sites. We have run into child porn on ALL of them! In May of 2013 we began fighting for better child abuse and child porn reporting features with Facebook. Twitter enabled a system for reporting child sex exploitation images that were found on their site as well.
So how is all of this blocking and reporting working? As late as February of 2013 this news story was posted to report that as many as 500,000 pornographic images are uploaded to Twitter each day! But surely these are not including child exploitation images right?
Sadly, since Ark of Hope for Children helps those abused and trafficked sexually as children, we get some pedophile types that choose to follow us on the social networks. They either think they can hide amongst our friends trying to appear to be good guys, or they think they will be able to infiltrate us to get at vulnerable children. We are too cautious and will not let that happen, try as they might.
How do we know? As we look deeply into their friends list we all too often find many they are following are either mostly young boys or young girls. Many of those are barely dressed or provocatively posed in their profile pictures. Then we look at their postings and pictures and plainly see some have posting images of children in sexual poses or acting out full blown sex. And others are commenting their approval or requesting images of the even partially dressed children be sent to a private account.
So, we report them. If the pictures are bad enough the image is removed. If they are obviously promoting child porn, their whole profile MAY be removed. If it is removed, victory right? No. They have a system in place. They simply create a new profile and upload again, albeit cautiously at first. And they reconnect with their list of followers acting as if it's only a game. They know they are winning, and are now back to post again. They are followed by people the world over. In dialects I cannot read but images clear enough to KNOW why they are there; sharing, posting and trading.
We would drill down through their profiles, finding what seemed like an endless list of offenders. Then we would turn them in. And their profiles would disappear. Until a new follower of our catches our attention and we see we have caught another. And we peer into their friends and magically past offenders are back with slightly altered user names.
Now we turn them over to law enforcement at various levels and will continue, hoping to stop some before another child's life is forever altered.
And so it goes. Does anything change?
No, not really. It is so large of an industry; so vast and widespread that often we feel nobody is making a dent.
Because the demand is simply too high. Who is buying? Your co-workers, the man or woman down the street. School teachers. Dads and moms. You name it. After all, what does a pedophile look like?
While frustrating, it is even more frustrating that people think once saved, the child victim, even if they are no longer a child, is now free. Nothing could be farther from the truth, but I have said enough for now. My next post will give you an opportunity to walk in their shoes.
We relish your comments and beg you to take your blinders off and get in this war for our children.
Blair Corbett, Executive Director
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