Editorial: Rooting out child pornography

·3 min read

Monkey see, monkey do.

This adage has a chilling application in child pornography. Legal experts emphasize that the criminalization of child pornography lies in its two different but related consequences that irredeemably harm children.

According to The First Amendment Encyclopedia on mtsu.edu, child pornography harms children in the production, distribution, and possession of materials that involve children in sexual activity.

This aspect is relatively well understood by citizens, even those who exploit children in the production of child pornography content that are peddled online.

An aspect requiring more public education focuses on the premature sexual priming of children exposed to sexually explicit materials, particularly on the Internet. According to mtsu.edu, adults expose children to pornography to prepare them to participate as eventual subjects and objects of pornography.

Many Filipinos caught violating Republic Act 10175, or the Cybercrime Prevention Act, reason out that the children were not harmed in producing child pornographic materials that clients, usually overseas, purchase.

No actual penetration, only simulation of sexual acts, occurs in this content, which their perpetrators say they produced to escape from poverty, especially during the lockdowns implemented to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Twisted logic normalizes the production of child pornography where no human child is actually used, such as animation and the casting of young-looking adults in children’s roles.

Such logic flies in the face of religious morality and human rights that values children and their human rights and cultural and social values.

In SunStar Cebu’s Jul. 13 report by Arnold Y. Bustamante, Benjie B. Talisic, and Laureen Jean M. Ynot, eight children, including a four-month-old baby, were rescued from a cybersex den that authorities raided at Barangay Luz.

Many citizens find it unfathomable to imagine how an infant may be used for sexually explicit material. Also beyond contemplation is the lack of humanity in adults abusing the vulnerability of an infant and excusing the act as victimless because the infant is too young to be conscious of or to remember its role in inappropriate acts.

In a July 14 report by Bustamante and Tito P. Tan, the Women and Children’s Protection Center (WCPC) Visayas Field Unit divulged that children rescued from a cybersex den operation said they did not feel exploited because they earned money “without being touched” in the photos and videos.

A daughter of the operator was among the children rescued during the WCPC operations.

WCPC operatives point out that aside from abusing the children’s naivete and trust, the adults involved in the cybersex operations jeopardize the children’s mental health and their future since the sensitive images posted online will have virtual indelibility.

Child development specialists say premature exposure to explicit material harms children’s sexual maturation and value formation, such as the justification of monetary compensation for their sexual objectification.

The so-called Miller Test may be used as a guide to assess whether the nudity of a child is obscene. Based on a peer-reviewed article uploaded by Joyce H-S Li, the test has three standards determining that a material is obscene: applying community standards, an average person finds that the material appeals to prurient interest; a work describes or depicts sexual acts in an offensive way, as defined by Law; and taken as a whole, the material lacks any literary, artistic, political or scientific merit.

Fighting the pernicious ways child pornography corrupts children and society requires stakeholders to complement law enforcement with education, value reorientation, and child welfare advocacy.

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