Child Victims

Porn Studies > Meese Report Table of Contents

I wish to focus on the victimization of children for several reasons. First, because this is my area of expertise, second, because I believe children are often given patronizing support but little genuine respect as valuable members of our society, and third, because children are clearly the most vulnerable of all who may be affected by pornography. This is not only because of their developmental limitations, but because there is an assumption that parents or other trusted caretakers can and will protect them. Moreover, I believe that the roots of so much of the demand for pornography and the exploitations in the production and forced consumption of pornography lie in the childhoods of those involved.

Because children are such defenseless and quiet victims, and because those who exploit them seem rarely to meet the public stereotype of the "child molester," the very existence of child sexual exploitation has been the very slowest of all offenses to emerge. There is a profound reluctance on the part of the American public to respond to this tragic dilemma. This relates to a disbelief that this kind of thing could happen, a lack of confidence in resources available within the various social and legal service systems, and the suppression of painful memories on the part of adults who themselves suffered as child victims and who were neither believed nor rescued.

As our social and legal systems have responded to the emerging revelations regarding sexual exploitation of children, a common trend has been that the ages of the victims have become younger and younger. Although we had begun to acknowledge the reality of the exploitation of adolescents in the production of pornography, we found that pictures of pre-pubescent children, toddlers, and even infants in sexually explicit depictions became increasingly prevalent. This trend toward the inclusion of very young children in pornography correlates with an identical trend in the physical abuse and sexual exploitation of children throughout the country.

Recently, communities throughout the United States have been shaken by disclosures of major multi-victim and multi-perpetrator child sexual molestations within preschool settings. From one end of the country to the other, children are coming forward as young as three and four years of age to relate stories strikingly and frighteningly similar regarding the most cruel and perverted sexual abuses imaginable, perpetrated by trusted caretakers and responsible members of the community.[1] Each time one of these cases emerges, the local community and its social and legal systems are so overwhelmingly shocked and incredulous of what they are hearing from these tiny youngsters, the process of intervention and prosecution is awkward, and usually unsuccessful.

One common theme that emerges repeatedly is the statement by the children that their pictures have been taken in sexually explicit poses while involved in perverted sexual activities. Other children have spoken of boxes of pictures being carried away just prior to police searches. In my opinion, there is little doubt that there is a connection between the ritualistic molestation of the children involved in the many alleged preschool multi-victim, multi-perpetrator molestation cases, and a child pornography market. However, since we have failed to discover pictures to substantiate this belief, the existence, nature, extent and those responsible for this market have not been determined. The recommendation for a national task force to study possible relations between these preschool sexual rings and an organized child pornography market is what I consider one of the most significant recommendations in this report.

Many other recommendations included in the Child Pornography section are particularly encouraging including those which strengthen support services for the child victims, sensitize and improve the effectiveness of legal/judicial procedures to accommodate the child victim, and those which provide children with information and skills to protect themselves against those who might exploit them, whether or not the perpetrator is a stranger, trusted adult or a parent.

Statement of Deanne Tilton-Durfee

Porn Studies > Meese Report Table of Contents

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