Mt. Vernon Register-News

April 26, 2013

Child porn cases on the rise

By RICK HAYES rick.hayes@register-news.com
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — Caregivers, law enforcement officers and child advocacy leaders were given new ammunition in dealing with child abuse victims during the 21st annual Downstate Conference on Child Abuse.

The conference was held Wednesday and Thursday at the Holiday Inn in Mt. Vernon.

One of the guest speakers at the conference, retired Chief of Police Jim Holler of the Liberty Township Police Department in Fairfield, Pa., spoke on the topic, "Child Pornagraphy: From Sex to Barbie Dolls."

It has been estimated that each more more than 8 million new pornographic images of children are being shared or sold via the Internet. Each day there are over 100,000 search requests made for child pornography. Many of these children are under the age of 5.

"My biggest thing for the participants and for every parent is if you've got young kids, you need to talk to them about sexual abuse. Talk to them about what areas of the body people shouldn't be touching, and so on, because what we're seeing is a big increase of younger victims from birth to up to 4-years-old that are being victimized," Holler said.

"They are being raped, but they think it's a game because they don't know any better. Whether it be caregivers, parents, teachers, preachers, you name it, that victimize these kids, but because of the trust issue they think that everything is okay because no one has ever talked to them about sexual abuse. Parents, young and old, need to be talking to them about these issues and the what-if situations about what they would do," he added.

"We're one of the biggest consumers of child porn here in the United States. We need to be aware of it, and especially parents. We see a lot of these pictures and we don't know who the kids are, and it's not until later on in the investigation that someone else from another state or background that we can match things to that we can figure out who the victim was," Holler said. "The bottom line is we don't want any more victims, and if more parents talk to their kids about it, it would help tremendously." Holler said the best age for the "talk" is when kids understand the different body parts.

Presentations were also given on identifying drug endangered children, the disconnect between research and practice in the use of anatomical diagrams, managing therapeutic challenges in cases of sibling abuse, and multiple interviews and extended forensic evaluations, just to name a few.

Ladonna Richards, executive director of The Amy Center, said nearly 200 people registered for the conference.

"We have had excellent attendance this year, with about 190 one day and 185 the next, which is an increase. We felt like we had a good lineup of guest speakers with a wide variety of topics. The conference has run well and smooth and we've had a ton of vendors where people can relax in between sessions," she said.

Next year's conference will be in Fairview Heights.

The conference planning committee consisted of the following sponsors: Madison County Child Advocacy Center, The Amy Center, Williamson County Child Advocacy Center, Perry-Jackson Child Advocacy Center, The Guardian Center, Inc., Healing Harbor Child Advocacy Center, St. Clair County Child Advocacy Center and Two Rivers Child Advocacy Center.