Not pornographic but definitely disturbing

This probably isn’t one of the things we should be doing to our society – making childhood illegal. But that does seem to be what we’re doing with some of our laws – see this about child selfies and paedophilia.

Almost one in three reported child abuse images are now taken by the children themselves, new figures from the Internet Watch Foundation show.

Children are increasingly filming or photographing themselves in explicit situations and sharing the footage, which then ends up on adult pornography sites or shared by paedophiles, the foundation’s annual report found.

The report shows that there were 78,589 confirmed child sexual abuse URLs found in 2017, up from 57,335 in 2016.

A growing number of images discovered by the foundation’s staff were those which children had taken themselves as photos or via livestreaming apps.

There’re two issues here. One purely linguistic – 13 years olds are not producing material for paedophiles but for ephebophiles. In most historical human societies this wasn’t a child but a young adult – it was often around the marriage age. But, you know, modern times.

However, what’s really wrong here is that what is described as images of sexual abuse of children can – indeed will be at times – simply a 13 year old without a shirt on. There are actually convictions of 17 year olds for sending a topless picture to their own boyfriend – one who has seen and grasped the Real Things often enough.

That is, we’ve got our definition of sexual images of children wrong. And that is a problem – because taking selfies now is just part and parcel of learning how to use society’s tools – you know, childhood – and jugging someone for taking a selfie of cousins skinny dipping isn’t really quite what we mean by wiping out child porn.

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  1. I never understood the hysteria over sad folks looking at pictures. It should not be a crime in itself. Providing the pictures? Well, if they exploit the innocent, that’s criminal, but what if those pix are computer-generated or even paintings? Who’s the victim? Actual victim, not potential, which doesn’t count.

    • Indeed. A recent BBC story rails against ‘Child Sex Dolls’ though it is difficult to see where any acual children are harmed.

      A number of unsupportable claims are made:

      Responding to the BBC investigation, Anne Longfield, England Children’s Commissioner, said: “These dolls are disgusting and are clearly meant to look like children.

      “Not only do I, as Children’s Commissioner, but the wider public also, have a right to expect a huge company like Amazon, to not only remove these products from their platform, but to explain why they are on there in the first place and ensure they can’t just be reloaded having been taken down. – perhaps the fact that they are not illegal could be a clue?

      “Such dolls are clearly built for one purpose and that purpose is a clear danger to the safety of real children,” she added. – any, like, actual evidence for that?

      Some unusual and unlikely vox pops reported:

      A couple from Durham were horrified to find that a child sex doll came up in the results for their online search for sex toys. – of course they were.

      Lots of ‘coulds’ and ‘risks’ from the NSPCC – more unsupported claims:

      The head of policy at the children’s charity NSPCC, Almudena Lara, highlighted the danger child sex dolls can pose to children.

      She told the BBC: “We already know that there is a risk that people using these dolls could become desensitised and their behaviour could become normalised to them, so that they go on to harm children, as is often the case with those who view indecent images of children online.

      Also absence of evidence is not evidence of absence:

      “There is absolutely no evidence that using the dolls stops potential abusers from abusing children. – or indeed of the opposite.

      • The end goal of the legislative/regulatory activity is not protection of anyone (nor protection of child sex dolls!) but thought control.

        “…they go on to harm children, as is often the case with those who view indecent images of children online.” I bet that, much more often, it is not the case.

        • It’s standard (deliberate?) statistical/logical confusion. Most rapists will have watched porn with simulated rape; therefore most people who watch porn with simulated rape must be rapists. etc etc

  2. Dittoes. We are in a morals witch hunt. We have set out to prosecute actual exploiters of children but (1) passed laws that seek to shut down an entire aftermarket, so viewing a copy of a copy is just as bad as filming the youngster, (2) bought the meme of “ruined lives” that ignores the flirty teen “ruining” her own life, rather than having juries decide if actual harm was caused, (3) passed “depictions” laws that protect victims that are not citizens, are not children, and are not people, but cartoons, and (4) reversed the burden of proof, as our law regards as kiddie porn any material that looks like it and does not link to a certificate proving it is not.

    Perhaps Justice Gorsuch, joining a ruling yesterday ( that people are owed unambiguous laws, may soon rule that no one can be prosecuted by an “anti-exploitation” law that does something completely different.