Mon | Feb 19, 2018

Orville Taylor | Scorn viral child porn

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2018 | 12:00 AM

How sick can you be to view a video of an infant child being forced to perform an unthinkable act on an adult? There is approximately one cell phone per person in this country, and if we judge it according to the adult population, we have close to two phones per adult. However, increased phone access has resulted in diminished cerebral capacity and judgement.

Around four out of every five adults in Jamaica are parents, and every single person on this island and in the diaspora has nieces, nephews, little cousins and other vulnerable relatives. Somebody needs a lesson in how to deal with the affairs of children, and not just the nasty perpetrator who carried out the dastardly act.

Never mind the old adage about a village to raising a child. The 2004 Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) places the overall responsibility regarding the safety of children to not only the caregivers, but, most important, neighbours and any other person who even suspects that child abuse of any sort is going on.

Section 6 (2) of the act states: "Any person who has information which causes that person to suspect that a child (a) has been, is being or is likely to be ... physically or sexually ill-treated ... shall make a report to the Registry."

Silence is neither golden nor consent; it is criminal. Interestingly, no one is exempt from this obligation. Not even attorneys are given a bye. Subsection (9) explicitly states that the section "... applies even if the information on which the belief is based ... is privileged as a result of a relationship of attorney-at-law and client; ..." And, although there is a slight escape clause, if there is "no substantial risk that the welfare of the child will be further endangered," the inconvenient burden will be on the lawyers to prove this after the charges are laid against them by the police.

Speaking of which, if police officers allow the suspicion or report of abuse to slip into their ears or eyes and not slide out of their mouths, they are also guilty of an offence.

With child pornography, the matter is more serious and there are very few stones unturned. The Child Pornography (Prevention) Act (CPPA) of 2009 defines child pornography as comprising the obvious but also includes persons who might not even be actual children. Section 2 (a) speaks to "any visual representation that (i) shows a person who is, or is depicted as being, a child and is engaged in, or is depicted as being engaged in, sexual activity."

And if there is any ambiguity, the child being portrayed does not even have to be a real person. The section defines 'visual representation' to include "any image, whether made or produced by electronic ... or any other means." Moreover, it includes "... an image resembling a person, which has been generated or modified electronically or otherwise, and ... some of the principal characteristics shown may be those of an adult shall be disregarded, if the predominant impression conveyed is that the image shown is that of a child." Even cartoons or avatars can be child porn.

 

COMMON KNOWLEDGE

 

Unless your brain is morally bankrupt or you spell dunce with a P, no one should have to tell you that kiddie porn is illegal and that recording sexual offences against minors is a crime. The only time that the word sex should be used in regard to any activity concerning a child is when one is distinguishing between male and female.

And here if you have doubts, use the word gender to be safe. Under the CPPA legislation, there are three things that you can do when you become aware of child porn. Don't view or listen, but if you inadvertently start and realise that it is; then stop. Next, report the recording to the police and when they have received it, delete it. Forwarding any kind of child pornography to anyone is a criminal offence under this statute.

As a caution to police officers, do not forward any child porn in your possession to any other police officer, unless that colleague is collaborating in the investigation or providing assistance. Sharing it for laughs or to show "how dem ya pickney outa order," is an offence and a vigilant squaddie or someone 'carrying belly for you' can arrest and charge you.

This is not the first or even second time that I am writing on this subject in this column. Nevertheless, there is no apology for repeating this ad nauseam, because children are our most important resources. I want the knowledge of the legal parameters and the dangers of sharing child porn to be as pervasive as project money before a by-election.

True, there is overwhelming revulsion and anger by the people who have viewed and obviously passed it around. That it is a Trinidadian incident makes no difference because someone CARICOM here and spread it. There is also no satisfaction that the suspect was reportedly found imitating some strange fruit with a noose around his neck dangling from a tree although other reports are that he is on the run.

In fact, I do not share the sentiment that he should be quartered and fed his instrument of his crime as his last meal. Neither do I think that he should be mobbed or put to death. We are a civilised society and the rule of law says that accused persons must be tried and sentenced according to law. There is no death penalty for that crime.

Yet, what is most disturbing is that parents and other adults shared the video. Ask the psychologists and social workers with whom I work how much further damage has been and will be done to the poor child. If you think that the paedophile is nasty; all you who shared it and made mileage out of it are not only criminals under the CPPA; but you need help, too.

- Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI, a radio talk-show host, and author of 'Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets'. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com.