Child Protection Act of 2012
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Child protection is not a phenomenon that has appeared recently; it was a serious matter to harm children back in Biblical times as well. However, nowadays the laws of most countries require that specific words and terms are defined in any legal setting to avoid the confusion arising from their use. The children’s rights are the needs and responsibilities that guardians and parents have to provide for their children. However, these rights are not always enforced or adhered to by the expected groups responsible for children. One of the most repulsive ways of child protection violation is child pornography. In the USA as well as in many other countries of the world this problem is one of the most pressing and urgent ones. In this paper we will discuss the health aspect of child pornography and the severity of this problem, but, most importantly, we will analyze the recently introduced child protection bill directed against child pornography, as well as its stakeholders and promoters, possible problems resurfacing while its implementation, as well as its outcomes and consequences for the society.
The problem of child pornography started developing actively in the USA since 1970s and continues up till now. The issues of identification of what is child pornography and what is not need to be addressed separately. In general, it presupposes that a child is involved in sexually explicit conduct that includes showing genitals or pubic area for sexual purposes (Akdeniz, 2008). There are several components that are to be present in order for the situation to be considered child pornography. First of all, there is to be present some kind of visual depiction like photographs, slides, movies, magazines, books, video tapes, film negatives or computer discs. Second, a child in question is to be under 18. Adding to this, sexually explicit conduct is to take place. By this we refer to sexual intercourse, masturbation, sexual fondling, bestiality, sadistic and masochistic abuse, lascivious exhilaration of genital and pubic area. Finally, there needs to be some kind of a record of child’s sexual exploitation and abuse (Strachan, Durfee & Coulter, 2003).
In the past, sexually explicit content involving children was tackled in accordance with The Miller obscenity standards in the USA. Unfortunately, laws enacted earlier did not solve the problem entirely, but only presided its escalation. That is why today the efforts of the government are directed towards implementation of the new laws that could be helpful in resolving the problem of child pornography.
Child pornography has surprisingly strong influence on people and their health. First and foremost, it affects mental health of adults and children. Two conflicting ideas concerning child pornography state that it cannot be proved that porn industry created market for violent pornography and, in particular, child pornography, as well as it cannot be proved that violence in the society prompted the appearance of child pornography. One thing is for certain: pornography as such and especially child pornography influences what adults think about sexuality and gives raise to sexual violence.
Child pornography’s effect on mental health of individuals cannot be underestimated because it promotes distorted view of sex and raises a possibility of unhealthy relationships with people of opposite sex. It can also promote view of people as of sex objects but not as separate human beings. Child pornography can also result in the development of bipolar disorder and depression in the individual. However, most importantly, it influences not completely formed psyche of a child that becomes a victim of sexual abuse.
Overview of the Bill and Its Stakeholders
As it was previously mentioned, child pornography is considered to be a crime because of the following reasons: 1) it involves participation of child in a sexual intercourse without his or her consent, 2) these activities are captured by camera, and 3) it increases the likelihood viewer to actually abuse a child (Bancroft, 2003). Due to the importance of the problem’s solution in the nearest future on July 30, 2012 a bill connected to child pornography issue was introduced and referred to committee. It is connected to such topics in criminal justice as crimes against children, sex offenses, assault and harassment offenses, pornography Internet and video services. This bill is also very closely related to Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2011 as well as Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011. Among its most ardent stakeholders are Rhode Island senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Texas senator John Cornyn, and Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar (S. 3456--112th Congress: Child Protection Act of 2012).
The main idea of the proposed bill lies in the fact that a fine or a prison term up to 20 years is to be imposed on a person that is caught transporting, receiving, distributing, selling or possessing pornographic pictures of a child under 12. Additional penalty for child sex trafficking and child abuse is to be established (S. 3456--112th Congress: Child Protection Act of 2012). A protective order to prohibit harassment or intimidation of a minor victim or witness is to be passed if such conduct affects willingness of a child to testify or participate in the investigation of court hearing. It is to be minimum 3 years long or it can be extended until children reach the age of 18. This protection order limits distribution of information concerning intimidation and harassment of a particular child on the Internet. There is a penalty, fine or imprisonment term set for knowing and violation of the protective order (H.R. 6063 Child Protection Act of 2012).
Expected Outcomes, Problems and Unintended Consequences
It is expected that this new bill connected to the problem of sex crime will help the government to battle sex crimes, and in particular those sex crimes involving children. If children feel free to speak about abuse and sufferings they overcame because of the perverseness of some adults who are involved in porno business, it would become easier to take measures and prevent further crimes from happening. Another important positive outcome will be that psychological trauma of children will be easier to identify if they speak about what happened. Of course, if sex criminals are accused and put into prison or mental hospital for their unlawful actions against children the world will become a safer place to live in.
Of course every law has its ups and downs, its advantages and disadvantages. If this bill is passed it will do a lot of good, but no one knows exactly whether this protective order will work successfully to protect lives of witnesses and victims. What if eventually it fails to do this? Who then will be held responsible for danger witnesses and victims are put in? Is it generally possible to provide 100 percent security for people involved in cases connected to sex crime? All these questions remain open to discussion and the bill is still to be improved in order to guarantee security to the highest possible degree.
One of the most important recommendations regarding this bill is not to stop improvement of criminal law system after passage of one particular bill. More ideas concerning fight with child pornography and other sex related crimes are to be discussed, put on paper, and organized into a bill. It is important to identify other important problems that prevent people from revealing sexual abuse they were subject to. People need to feel free to speak and express their thoughts and their pain. For this bill, as well as other similar bills, to be passed people are to be made aware of the problem. That is why such bills are not only to be discussed behind closed doors in high offices but with ordinary masses of people in the streets. People are to be aware what is going on at the government level and what actions are taken to fight this or that aspect of sex crime.
Child pornography is one of those issues that make children’s lives uncomfortable, can be termed as one of the most problematic issues that children are facing. Therefore, the provision of child protection is a closed-ended solution to the suffering children under the ‘care’ of irresponsible parents and guardians. The focus is supposed to move from the suffering children to the parties responsible for the child’s existence covering the future by dealing with the present (Lonne, 2009).
It is remarkable how many different kinds of child protection issues are still to be solved. In order to do this, different measures can be taken. The primary means are largely preventative: these are activities aimed at informing the public about the consequences of child labor, child slavery, child abuse and behavioral change in relation to parenting. One example is information campaign to raise public awareness, help by public and non-governmental organizations. Typically, the primary means to protect children include the following activities: 1) social service and health care workers visiting homes of families that can possibly have such kinds of problems; 2) creating educational programs of conscious parenthood and child development; 3) operation of telephone helplines; 4) counseling in community centers, etc. Special social organization’s workers (social workers, social educators, representatives of public organizations) have an important role in child protection, especially in conducting parents’ training. These trainings and seminars help them to understand the essence of parenthood, learn about parental competence and rights of a child in a family.
Informational materials that contain a list of institutions and organizations designed to help and protect children are to be created and distributed in order to reverse the current child protection situation. Secondary means of child protection are specialized services for the families which need additional help because of the risk factor of bad attitude to the child. Social workers in this case need to remember that not all families that have risk factors have occurrences of bad attitude to the child. Selection approach is the only means that may probably help to provide help for such families. This approach can be seen as controversial, because after selection positive and beneficial intervention may be observed. Various studies have established numerous risk factors. There are risk factors that cover most characteristics of children, parents’ past experiences, physical and mental health problems, and environment. These may or may not create a dangerous situation for a child. However, such factor as violence in the family almost definitely will result in future child abuse. While selection of families for intervention the following factors are to be taken into consideration: child’s perception of parents, parents’ perception of child position, attachment indications and parenting quality. Tertiary means of child protection are realized through providing services for those children who have suffered violence, abuse, neglect etc. After surveillance and detection of such facts, interference with the family is to be made to stop them and prevent from happening in the future. This activity is necessary even in the presence of proactive primary and secondary measures.
To conclude with, child pornography is an issue that deserves urgent attention and measures to be taken. The recently proposed bill if passed can influence the situation in the sphere of sex crimes in a positive way. This is only one small step on the way of elimination all problems connected to sex crime from the society.