The Foundation supports the development of strategies against the sexual abuse of children and youth in the new media.
The Internet and communication technologies are for today’s children and adolescents a live environment in which they inform themselves, communicate, and present and prove themselves. But they also encounter pornographic and violent content there.
Social networks offer pedophiles and hebephiles the opportunity to make contact with children and adolescents and to pursue their sexual interests under the protection of anonymity. By giving the children and adolescents special attention and winning their trust (on-line grooming), they persuade them to divulge information about themselves, send (nude)pictures, meet in person, or even perform sexual acts for the web-cam.
The entire spectrum of sexual desires and actions resulting from the paraphilias of adults can be found in medial form with children in the Internet. A large part of the medial depictions include penetrative practices (oral, vaginal, anal sex) between children and adults, between children and adolescents, between children, even with animals.
Still, only a small percentage of these medial depictions fall into the category of illegal child pornography. Some, especially „posing pictures“, in which partially or completely dressed children strike „erotic“ poses, are not punishable by law and are thus treated as a socially acceptable form of exploiting children for the sexual interests of adults.
This raises the question whether such an „instrumentalization“ represents a form of sexual exploitation that can permanently harm the integrity and personality of children and therefore constitutes abuse. The term „child pornography“ blurs and plays down the actual situation: sexual abuse. The manner of depiction is such that the child and adolescent victims appear to be enjoying themselves and express this verbally and mimetically. A similar effect is created in pornographic depictions of children from which, one can assume, emotions such as fear, disgust, and pain have been erased.
An exact analysis of the pictures can lead to assumptions about the sexual preference of the users, and, depending on the completeness of the depiction, to the identification of the perpetrators and their young victims. Even when the offenders and children are not identifiable, abuse depictions give an indication of the form and extent of sexual abuse and can serve as evidence in the future. One must assume that the victims find their status particularly shameful, especially when the verbal or memetic staging suggests their willingness to participate. The guilt feelings of these victims may be much stronger and stand in the way of a subsequent confrontation. In any case, pornographic pictures are documents of sexual abuse, the traumatizing effect of which is heightened even more by its documentation. Moreover, the depictions of exploitation and abuse remain in the Internet interminably and lead to constant revictimization and, possibly, retraumatization of the victims well into adulthood.
It is therefore suggested:
- To educate the public about depictions of abuse.
- To protect children and adolescents from sexual victimization and revictimization by the production and propagation of depictions of abuse.
- To educate children and adolescents about the dangers of sexual abuse in the Internet and to inform them about protective measures.
- To change the term „child pornography,“ which contributes to the trivialization and down playing of abuse.
- To investigate all depictions in which the actions of a child recognizably reflect the sexual interests of adults.
- To develop technologies that automatically detect and record depictions of abuse that can be used in the prosecution of offenders.
The Foundation endeavors to procure funds to support projects in this area. Cooperation with the Institute for Sexual Science and Sexual Medicine at the Charité in Berlin, which is researching actual and potential users of sexual abuse depictions, is possible.