There was a situation recently where a man was investigated by DFPS for having “sexually exploitative” images of children on his phone. Except that they were of his own children. For more context, there was at least one picture of his 8 year old naked while on vacation, and all of them were in the confines of normal behavior for children (the one naked image was skinny dipping). The photo clerk saw the pictures, and reported it to DFPS (the correct course of action when there is any doubt, in my opinion), and a shitstorm ensues.
As you might imagine, the process is highly traumatic for anyone involved in it. The investigators treat you like criminals, and you live in constant fear of what might happen. Ultimately, after a thorough investigation, the man was cleared of any wrongdoing, but nevertheless, the process took its toll.
Part of the issue is whats called “strict liability” as it related to child pornography. Basically, simple possession of the images is a crime, regardless of intent. This is the same reason that causes teenagers to get charged with receiving nude pictures of their girlfriends (I have never seen the reverse happen personally, but as society becomes moves toward gender equality, I imagine it is inevitable). The reason, of course, is to make it easier to prosecute pedophiles and child abusers, a truly noble goal. Society has deemed the social value of making sure these people are off the street to be high enough to outweigh the rights of some people who may get caught in the crossfire, and perhaps rightly so. However, I think the main thing that can be done in situations like these, is work towards at least speeding the process up for those involved.
Every day spent under the microscope for potentially being a child abuser can be agonizing. The people involved feel isolated, as they are too embarrassed to talk with friends and family. In this particular situation, it seems as though simply interviewing the family separately would have resolved things to anyone’s satisfaction. However, due to the seriousness of the POTENTIAL issue, every caution is taken, and the process slows to a crawl. Being careful in potentially serious situations seems good, however it should be a sliding scale that ALSO takes into account the likelihood of abuse taking place.
The lesson from all this should be to be careful what pictures you take, even of your own children. If you are in possession of any image that could be considered sexual by anyone, which is a pretty broad stroke, you could be liable for possession of child pornography and everything that comes with it.
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