One of the subjects I’m very passionate about is child safety. You could say it’s one of my obsessions. I researched this topic quite intensely and have even done a qualification in this field. And I’m planning an intensive course for parents, and my next book will probably be on the same topic. I’ll keep you updated on these.
Anyway, the Gulf Daily News published a news story today about how Spanish Police carried out an operation arresting over 121 people suspected of involvement in Internet Child Pornography.
Hooray! At last some good news on this subject! I’ve re-printed the article below. Please read it and then see my own comments afterwards.MADRID: Spanish police have staged their biggest ever operation against Internet child pornography, arresting 121 people suspected of involvement in a network that reached 75 countries. A further 96 people were accused of possession and distribution of Internet child pornography, but are not in custody, police said yesterday. Those arrested came from a wide variety of social and professional backgrounds and included airline pilots, caretakers, taxi drivers and bank employees. They ranged in age from minors to old-age pensioners. Two of those arrested produced their own pornographic material and the victims included members of their own families. More than 800 police personnel took part in Operation Carousel. They staged 210 raids nationwide and seized 347 computer hard discs, 1,186 CDs and DVDs and 36 laptop computers as well as “millions of archives of videos and photographs some of which show extremely harsh abuse of minors.” Police launched the investigation last year in co-operation with their Brazilian counterparts. With the help of specialised police in various countries, they recorded 18,000 transfers of paedophile material in 75 countries. Investigators identified 250 residences throughout Spain where the pornographic files were uploaded and then distributed. Spanish police have identified the fight against child pornography on the Internet as one of their priorities, and the unit in charge of such operations is one of the most internationally recognised. Investigators have been helped by the use of a programme known as “Hispalis”, which allows them to detect and provide names and addresses of Internet users as they log on to illegal websites. The arrests were made last week and four of those in custody are minors, police said. The operation began in July 2007. Most of the suspects are Spaniards, police said without naming the other nationalities. The detainees used peer-to-peer, or P2P, servers to share at least three download sites. Last February, police published for the first time photos of suspected paedophiles to get the public’s help in identifying and locating them. The authorities said they had arrested more than 1,200 people in connection with child pornography on the Internet in the last five years.
Here are some of my comments and observation on the topic of child safety
– They arrest 121 people in a network that reached 75 countries! Seventy Five! Child abuse and pornography is an ugly spectrum that exists everywhere! Please don’t think that just because we live in a Muslim society that it doesn’t happen here – it does.
– “Those arrested came from a wide variety of social and professional backgrounds and included airline pilots, caretakers, taxi drivers and bank employees”. A big problem the cause of Child safety faces is the belief that child sexual predators and pedophiles (those sexually interested in children) somehow come from poor backgrounds, or from lower social classes. This is absolutely not true! They come from all social backgrounds and professions.
They could be doctors, lawyers, religious leaders (yes even Imams), child caretakers and even counsellors hired to help victims of child abuse! It could be your neighbour, your cousin, your nephew or your best friend. Child molesters don’t look like child molesters. They look like, act and behave like you and me. A very scary thought I know.
– “Two of those arrested produced their own pornographic material and the victims included members of their own families.” Here’s the real shocker, over 80% of child abuse happens from someone the child knows! Often times (but not always) it happens from the people that are closest to the child, parents, siblings, uncles or cousins.
As an aside, the words “don’t talk to strangers” are virtually useless advice. One reason is that, as I just mentioned, most child abuse happens from someone the child knows. The other reason is because your child doesn’t really know what a “stranger” is.
Everyone your child knows was at some point a stranger. Is the bus driver a stranger? What about the teacher? The school janitor? The parent of a friend? The guy that sells the tickets in the cinema? The doctor your child sees once or twice a year? His second cousin that he only sees in Eid? What about a cop?
I hope you get my point. There are much better ways to educate your child on safety than “don’t talk to strangers.” I’ll discuss this in more detail in my upcoming course. Please look out for that.
– “They staged 210 raids nation wide and seized 347 computer hard discs, 1,186 CDs and DVDs and 36 laptop computers as well as ‘millions of archives of videos and photographs some of which show extremely harsh abuse of minors.'” An interesting habit of pedophiles, they are hoarders! The main reason they get caught is because they loathe to get rid of their collection of child pornography. Even after they get caught they often plead with their captors not to destroy their collection! Is this sick or what!
They also have a need to validate their interests and are constantly searching for someone who shares their interests. Investigators often pose as fellow pedophiles online and get them to open up and share parts of their collection.
– “Spanish police have identified the fight against child pornography on the Internet as one of their priorities, and the unit in charge of such operations is one of the most internationally recognised.” Good for them! Probably the main obstacle to more children being protected and saved from abuse is ignorance. It’s really ignorance on a massive scale. Ignorance of parents, the education system, the law enforcement agencies, the courts, the government, etc.
But it seems the message is getting out there slowly. I feel that every year that passes the topic of child safety gets more attention and that people are learning more about it all the time.
Having said that however, what is being reported and discovered when it comes to child pornography is probably just the tip of the iceberg. We still have a long way to go. Some third world countries have organised child prostitution rings that involved thousands of children. The struggle ahead is long and hard, but God bless organisations like the Spanish Police that have made this a priority for themselves.
What you can do right now
You can do your bit to save children too. Here in Bahrain there is an organisation called Be Free. They are Bahrain’s first Anti Child Neglect and Abuse programme. They conduct educational seminars for children all over the country, and provide some counselling as well. They have struggled in the first few years to overcome prejudices and the misguided belief that these sorts of things don’t happen in Islamic/Arab countries like Bahrain.
I’ve known them and provided consulting for them for quite some years now. Like many charities, they are living from hand to mouth. It would help them greatly if you donated some money or in any way provided them with some assistance. In my view, protecting children from harm is one of the greatest, ki
est things a person can do.
Their website is http://www.be-free.info. The site also has their contact details. Please do what you can.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, and in the Eid spirit, I thank you in advance for donating to Be Free.
Talk to you soon.