Smartphones don’t discriminate. And child predators know precisely how to take advantage.
“Grandma, I want a iPhone! Please!”
Such was the plea my 5-year-old granddaughter shot at me a few days ago. It was an innocent request but caused me to shudder with apprehension.
To my granddaughter an iPhone is a device filled with magical wonder worthy of her curiosity and imagination. I’m ashamed to admit she was the one who taught me how to dictate an email via Siri and send it to a recipient.
How could I explain to her that the gadget she covets is like a Pandora’s box in today’s world?
Jerome Elam, columnist for the Washington Times Communities, explains how “child pornography has found a breeding ground on smartphones.”
In his article, Smartphones and child pornography: Stop stealing a child’s innocence, tells of horrific phone applications (apps) such as Whatsapp containing a video of a toddler girl raped and sodomized.
“The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center (CEOP) reports that the latest atrocity by pedophiles is the targeting of poor families in underdeveloped countries. In exchange for payment, children engage in sexual acts as they are “live streamed” over Skype, which can be accessed via smartphone.”
As difficult as it is to read articles about the sexual exploitation of children I have the responsibility to shine a spotlight on this atrocity. I refuse to accept that we’re powerless to change the climate of our culture that has deemed this heinous crime acceptable.
Parents need to understand the danger of smartphones in order to be proactive in protecting their children.
Last month, a Facebook post was circulating on my feed about how geotagging on smartphone pictures poses privacy risks which Snopes.com proved to be true.
The majority of smartphones contain a geotagging feature via GPS technology that stores the location of the photo. What benefits do geotagging photos provide? They embed the exact location onto the photograph you took.
For most people who never want to forget the special memories of their vacation, the geotagging feature is a necessity. However, what happens when people with ill-intent use this feature for evil?
According to this news video, which aired almost four years ago, a child’s location such as the bedroom or school could be located via software once the photo was uploaded onto a social media site such as Facebook, Twitter, and Photobucket.
Since the video aired, Facebook and Twitter have taken measures to ensure that photos uploaded to their site automatically remove “some or all of the Exif metadata to protect user privacy.”
Can we wholly trust the privacy protection these sites offer?
No. We are responsible for our own actions and need to protect our children’s privacy and innocence by disabling the GPS feature on our cameras and smartphones as well as knowing the privacy policies on all social media/photo-sharing sites.
As a portrait photographer for children, families, and my granddaughter, I’ve made sure my work doesn’t breach the privacy of my clients and family. I believe my work as an abolitionist has made me hyper-aware of the nefarious activities of child predators, sometimes to the point of paranoia.
Trying to educate the parents of my young clients freaks them out until I explain my work in fighting against human trafficking. I’ve noticed most of them don’t want to know or believe that it could happen to them. They question why I won’t include photos of their naked young babies on my portfolio without explicit knowledge and written consent.
When we take action to educate people on issues, it opens the door for progress. It is no small victory when a recent bill initiated in Congress will federally prosecute perpetrators seeking sex with children.
It goes without saying that the new bill makes an important step in protecting children by recognizing that those who “obtain, patronize, or solicit” prostituted children are guilty of the crime of human trafficking. Beyond prosecuting both those who seek sex with children and those who profit from it, we also need to make provisions to better identify children who are being exploited and to help those who have survived such an experience.
Not only does the bill have bipartisan support but also several groups across the country are rallying their support for this law that may potentially deter child sex predators from committing their evil deeds.
The power of protecting our children’s innocence lies in our hands; use it wisely to make an impact on our society.