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Every Image, Every Child Backgrounder: Fast Facts and Statistics

On June 2, 2009 the Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime released its first special report: Every Image, Every Child. The report makes nine recommendations to the federal government on how to address the issue of internet-facilitated child sexual abuse.

Every Image, Every Child brings together a number of studies, publications and articles which support the need to take quick and definitive action to rescue and help innocent child victims. The following facts and information are pulled from the report.

The issue

  • More than 90 percent of Canadians are concerned about the distribution of child sexual abuse images, and child sexual exploitation is ranked as one of the top three concerns for parents regarding children.1

The scope of the problem

  • Commercial child pornography is estimated to be a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide.2
  • Tens of thousands of new images or videos are put on the Internet every week and hundreds of thousands of searches for child sexual abuse images are performed daily. 3
  • It is estimated that there are over 5 million unique child sexual abuse images on the Internet.4
  • The children in the images are getting younger:
    • 83 percent of children are 12 years old or younger.5
    • 39 percent had images of children between the ages of 3 and 5.6
    • 19 percent had images of infants under 3 years old.7
  • The content of the images and videos is becoming increasingly violent:
    • Over 80 percent of the images involve penetration.8
    • 20 percent of the images involve torture or bondage.9
    • The number of images of "serious child abuse" has quadrupled between 2003 and 2007.10
    • 87 percent had images of prepubescent children that were highly graphic.11

Offenders

  • The number of charges for production or distribution of child pornography increased by 800 percent between 1998 and 2003.12
  • Most child sexual abuse image producers are known to the victims:
    • 37 percent are family members.13
    • 36 percent are acquaintances.14
  • Over 30 percent of those convicted of possessing child pornography were living with minor children; almost 50 percent had access to minors at home, socially or as part of their jobs.15
  • Currently, an estimated 500,000 individuals are actively involved in the trafficking of child sexual abuse images on the Internet.16

Investigations

  • One of the best tools for locating offenders is by identifying Internet Protocol or "IP" addresses that have distributed known child sexual abuse images or videos. Law enforcement can then try to obtain the customer name and address associated with that IP address.
  • Unfortunately, in Canada Internet Service Provides are permitted, but not required, to provide this information to law enforcement without judicial authorization (i.e.: a warrant).
  • While many ISPs do cooperate, 30 to 40 percent of requests for basic customer name and address information are still denied.17

Helping child victims heal

  • A victimized child and his or her family can go to more than 10 different locations and see multiple professionals before getting help.18
  • Child Advocacy Centres (CAC) help child victims by bringing together a number of professionals, such as police, lawyers, counsellors and investigators, in one child-friendly location.
  • An investigation into a child abuse case in a community with a CAC is 45 percent less expensive than in a community without a CAC.19
  • Use of the CAC model leads to a reduction in system-induced trauma for victims, an increase in charges laid, better quality of evidence, more guilty pleas and higher convictions rates with more appropriate sentences.20 Additionally, families are generally more willing to access services if they are on-site.

Reducing the flow of child sexual abuse images

  • Canada's private and non-profit sectors are working to help reduce or block access to illegal child abuse site.
  • On average, Cybertip — Canada's child sexual abuse website reporting organization — receives over 700 reports and 250,000 of page views per month.
  • Since 2006, there have been 13,000 URLs21 added to Cybertip.ca's list. Almost half of these sites involve sexual acts with children and almost 90 percent involve children under 8.22

What you can do

  • If you have wireless Internet access at home, ensure that it is password protected so that others nearby cannot access it. Some offenders have been known to drive around looking for wireless access so that they cannot be traced.
  • Report any websites you find with child sexual abuse content to Cybertip.
  • Be mindful of the images you post to the Internet. Images that may seem to be innocent to you could be used by others for inappropriate purposes. Once they are out there, an image can never be taken back.
  • Read up on what you can do to protect your children. There are numerous websites and other resources that can help you learn more about what you can do at home.

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  • 1 Canadian Centre for Child Protection - "What we know". March 25, 2008.
  • 2 Jonah Rimer, Literature Review-Responding to Child & Youth Victims of Sexual Exploitation on the Internet, 2007. The creation and distribution of most images is not related to commercial purposes.
  • 3 Dr. Roberta Sinclair, The National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre, "Internet Facilitated Sexual Exploitation," PowerPoint presentation made to the 2007 National Crime Victim Awareness Week Symposium, April 23, 2007.
  • 4 Dr. Michael Bourke, "Child Pornography and Hands-on Abuse," Dallas Crimes Against Children Conference, August 12, 2008.
  • 5 H.R. 4120, An Act to amend title 18, United States Code, to provide for more effective prosecution of cases involving child pornography, and for other purposes.
  • 6 National Juvenile Online Victimization Study (NJOV) 2004.
  • 7 Ibid.
  • 8 Janis Wolak et al. "Internet Sex Crimes Against Minors: The Response of Law Enforcement (PDF Version)," November 2003.
  • 9 CTV.ca, July 23, 2006.
  • 10 According to Internet Watch Foundation; Jonah Rimer, Literature Review-Responding to Child & Youth Victims of Sexual Exploitation on the Internet, 2007, p. 16.
  • 11 Juvenile Online Victimization Incidence Study (JOVIS) 2004.
  • 12 Only 33 percent of those convicted of distribution were sentenced to prison (52 percent received probation). Child and Youth as Victims of Crime, Juristat, 1 April 20, 2005, p. 11. Statistics Canada Catalogue No. 85-002-XIE.
  • 13 Jonah Rimer, Literature Review-Responding to Child & Youth Victims of Sexual Exploitation on the Internet, 2007, p. 25.
  • 14 Ibid.
  • 15 Adrian Humphreys, "Predators among us-do we have an epidemic or not?," National Post, October 20, 2007. These statistics refer to a study done by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding 1,713 people charged with possessing child pornography.
  • 16 "President Bush signs child protection bill into law," CBS Miami news, October 14, 2008.
  • 17 NCECC Submission to Public Safety Canada, "Customer Name and Address Information Consultation," October 2007.
  • 18 BOOST Child Abuse Prevention & Intervention.
  • 19 National Children Alliance Annual Report 2005.
  • 20 ZEBRA Child Protection Centre, Victims of Crime Fund Grants Program Evaluation Report, March 1, 2007, p. 9.
  • 21 A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the unique address for a file that is accessible on the Internet. For example, to get to a website, you can enter the URL of the home page in your Web browser's address line.
  • 22 Signy Arnason, Cybertip, Ontario Provincial Strategy to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Exploitation on the Internet Multi-disciplinary Conference, November 18, 2008, London, Ontario.