When it comes to criminals I can usually have some kind of compassion for the person trapped within the criminal mind and body because I don’t believe people are born bad. And I know what childhood experiences can do to a person. I’ve seen documentaries about the most hardened of prison gang murderers learning to understand the reality of what they’ve done, and to take responsibility for it.
But pedophiles? Adults who jack off on photographs of children being horrifically abused sexually? Adults who do the deeds, and those who take the pictures? How do you get your head around that? It seems sub-human to me.
Well, a three-year investigation by an international task force led by a UK team has led to the biggest internet pedophile ring ever discovered so far being shut down. The investigation was called Operation Rescue, and was done primarily by the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center.
Apparently the pedophile network operated behind a legal internet forum which had 70,000 followers at its peak in 30 different countries. Members of the network used the secret systems of a private channel to share images and films of abused children.
Police have identified 230 abused children, 60 of whom have now been protected. Out of 670 suspects, 184 have been arrested, 121 of them in the UK. The suspects include police officers, a scout master, teachers, and a woman.
I saw images of a couple of them last night on BBC and two of them looked like regular guys. But they’re so not what they seem, it’s terrifying. I think that if I’d met one of them I wouldn’t have had a clue. Mind you, it’s kind of the norm for pedophiles, isn’t it? Priests, respected members of communities…
We hear a lot of horror stories about women and children being abused in the Middle East and India, but this is happening in the part of the world we like to think of as civilized. Scary. Of course the internet is paradise for these twisted deviants. But the technology they’re using is being used to find them, which is good news. Another UK operation is investigating 7,000 UK people who used their credit cards to access child porn images – on a US website.
It’s weird, our western civilization. In some ways we’ve really advanced – there’s so much more consciousness about people’s rights and what quality in life really means, about our responsibility to ourselves, others and our planet. But if I look at this element of people getting off on child abuse I wonder, are we rotting at the core? Because this situation isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse.
Maybe this rotten element has always existed amongst humans, and the internet, in providing such easy access for them, is really just illustrating to us what we didn’t see before, so in that sense I guess it’s good. You can’t conquer what you can’t see.
And I really pay tribute to the men and women who work to bring these pedophile networks down. What a hideous job. The work of heroes.