Support those who protect most vulnerable

THOSE investigating abhorrent cases involving childrencan never erase what they see.It is a thankless, difficult role -one which investigators often carry with them like a shadow.They are a unique group of detectives who deal with sensitive, delicate and distressing cases.

And despite increasing workloads and constant resourcing pressures, they remain committed to bringing thosewho abuseour most vulnerable before the courts.They do so, because they know the reality of their cases –theyinvolve people.Indeed, that was the message from Jamie Stubbins of the central Victorian sexual offences and child abuse investigation team this week.Stubbins gives perspective to an issue about which too few understand.

After a case in which detectives extradited a man back to Victoria after he was found to possess sexual images of children, Stubbins says carrying such pictures is not a victimless crime.“Theythink they’re not really doing anything wrong here, ‘no one sees it, only Isee it’, but they’re demanding it, they’redownloadingit and the peoplethat get paidto do it orget their own sick thrill from doing it, they will continue to produce it,” he said.“Although it’sminor in their mind, it’snot and we will pursue them.”

Images of children engaged in sexual acts are not ‘child pornography’.Pornography is materialthat describesor displayssexual organs or activity, to stimulate sexual excitement.Children should never be used to stimulate sexual excitement.Those who are, are victims. Those who photograph them, are abusers.Children do not willingly participate in sexual activity, nor consent with any understanding to beingphotographed. They are not willingly denigrated nor aware of how they are being exploited.They are victims of predatory adults –andbecome broken children. Broken children exposed to environmentsmost adults would struggle to understand.Those possessing sexual images of children feed the child exploitation market. Just as those grooming, photographing and engaging in sexual acts with children are committing offences, those downloading and viewingsuch images are complicit in child abuse.Technology allows this to happen on a greater scale than ever before –but as a community we should take comfort in knowing there are those committed to seeking them out. We should also demandgreater resourcing and support for the work they do.

Nicole Ferrie, editor

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