Fr. Shay Cullen
12 April 2018
Police in many nations that are fighting back against the pedophiles who sexually exploit children online are having remarkable success. Pedophiles and child pornographers despite hiding on the dark web and using encryption software are being caught in increasing numbers. They abuse children online and send thousands of pictures of these children to each other over the internet. This incites and arouses pedophiles to go out into the real world in their own country and abroad and look for more children to sexually abuse.
The Filipino children were only six or seven years old and brought to an internet cybersex den where they were sexually abused on live camera for the pleasure and satisfaction of 53-year old Dwayne Stinsion, a US national from the eastern district of Virginia. He paid women by electronic money transfer to abuse the children. He has pleaded guilty to the crime of making child pornography taking screen photos of the abuse and saving them on his computer. He will be sentenced in August this year. The Philippine police did not find the women. They are operating in a highly sexualized society where sex bars and cybersex dens are operating with impunity and government licenses.
Arrested and jailed earlier this year was 26-year old Irishman Matthew Horan of St. John’s Estate, Clondalkin, Dublin. Horan is a convicted pedophile who sexually exploited young Irish and American girls over the internet some as young as nine years old. Thousands of images of children being sexually abused were found in his home. He was sentenced to seven and a half years with two years suspended if he abides by certain court instructions. In the future, the instructions will hopefully include a ban on travel abroad if the new amendments to the Irish Sexual Offenses Law are enacted.
In the Philippines, a US national pleaded guilty to child abuse charges and human trafficking after he was arrested and brought to court four and a half years ago. Preda Foundation assisted the victims to get justice. He may be charged in the United States under the US extraterritorial law.
Last December 2017, as many as 200 pedophiles abusing children online were arrested by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA). There were 250 victims identified and they were being groomed and trapped by the pedophiles who posed online as teenagers. They enticed their teenage victims to send them sexually explicit photos of themselves and the pedophiles used them to get more and blackmailed the children threatening to post the images on Facebook or elsewhere.
Last September, Paul Leighton 32, from Seaham, County Durham, was sentenced to 16 years for child rape that happened thousands of miles away. He tricked one 14-year old boy into sending naked photos of himself and then he blackmailed the boy into repeatedly sexually abusing his one-year old niece online. The boy was charged by the police. Leighton told police that he enjoyed the total power he had over his victims of which there were many more in Australia, Canada, the US and the UK.
According to the National Crime Agency Director Will Kerr, as many as 400 suspects are arrested every month for sending child pornography images over the internet. Civilian child protectors are using the tactics of the pedophiles against them that is leading to more arrests. Some police forces are accepting the evidence gathered by civilian “pedophile hunters” who use a decoy and poise as young teenagers online and lure pedophiles to engage in grooming them. Then, they turn the recorded evidence of a crime be it an e-mail or chats or other gathered information to the police. In the UK, a research by the BBC learned that 150 suspects were investigated by police using information provided by the ‘hunters.” Police are increasingly using the information to make their own investigations and make arrests.
However, some of the hunters are more aggressive and they identify the suspects themselves and confront them face-to-face and expose them on Facebook Live. This is very dangerous and risky. The suspect when confronted may become violent and such encounters ought to be left to the police. Parents are careless also in photographing their own children in the bathtub or naked on the beach or by the pool and posting them on the social media for all to see. Pedophiles will have access to these pictures and might even target them. Children should have the right to their privacy, too.
It is prevention that will prove most effective to curb child abuse over the internet. Parents above all must be vigilant to protect the rights and dignity of their children online. They must teach their children never to start a relationship online that they cannot physically or otherwise verify the identity of the person.
They should never send photographs of themselves to any stranger they meet online or ever meet with them alone. Many young people are compromised and extortion follows threats to expose them on social media. Some have committed suicide. Young people and parents ought to have trust and share information and report suspects to the police.
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