Issue of the Week: Human Rights

Internet Watch Foundation, child sexual abuse report, 23 January 2019


Today, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in the UK released a report on the sexual abuse and sexual torture of children online at the start of the year, three months early, because of an increase by a third over the year before of images removed in 2018.

The IWF press release is here:

Record number of images showing children being sexually abused removed by UK internet charity

Here’s an excerpt:

“Announcing its latest figures, which break previous totals, their Chief Executive Susie Hargreaves OBE described it as “shocking and deeply upsetting” that these images should have been created in the first place. 

In 2018, 4 out of 10 of the webpages the IWF actioned for removal displayed the sexual abuse of children aged 10 years old and younger, with infants and babies featuring more than 1,300 times.

Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Sajid Javid MP said: “The horrifying amount of online child sexual abuse material removed by the IWF shows the true scale of the vile threat we are facing…”

Ms Hargreaves said: “These 105,047 webpages each contained up to thousands of images and videos showing the sexual abuse of children. It amounted to millions of horrific images.”

Millions of horrific images. All over the world.

The scale and damage from internet child sexual abuse was covered at length in our September 5, 2018 post, the 7th installment of The End Of Civilization As We Knew It. A substantial excerpt from the post follows below. Its ends with an excerpt from a post last January on the same issue.

Re-reading this post is a reminder of the impossible to imagine scale and horror of internet child sexual abuse that involves millions of predators, countless millions more victims, and which a majority of the children on earth are exposed to in some way.

Seeing this progression over the past year is far past heart-breaking and depressing.

But the ray of light in the darkness is that the revelation of what has gotten worse is also a reflection of what is being done to stop it.

Here’s an article in The Guardian in London today on the IWF report, followed by our post from September 5 of last year.

Charity reports rise in takedowns of child abuse imagery

Alex Hern, London, 23 Jan 2019

Internet Watch Foundation removed more than 100,000 pages last year, up by a third

A charity tasked with removing child abuse imagery from the internet has warned of a “horrifying” increase in the amount of material it has had to take down over the past year.

The Internet Watch Foundation, which acts as a de facto watchdog for online child abuse in the UK, said it removed more than 100,000 webpages showing the sexual abuse and sexual torture of children in 2018, an increase of one-third over the year before.

The IWF usually publishes its annual findings in April but brought forward the release this year because it felt the increase was too significant to withhold.

The charity’s chief executive, Susan Hargreaves, said: “These 105,047 webpages each contained up to thousands of images and videos showing the sexual abuse of children. It amounted to millions of horrific images. Virtually all (more than 99%) were hosted outside of the UK.

“It is shocking and deeply upsetting that these images should have been created in the first place. We have set ourselves an ambitious programme of work for 2019. By getting better at finding and combating this material, we offer real hope to the victims whose images are shared online.”

The IWF said four in 10 of the webpages it flagged for removal in 2018 displayed the sexual abuse of children aged 10 and younger, with infants and babies featuring more than 1,300 times.

Five years ago the IWF processed just over 50,000 reports, acting on a quarter of them. Last year there were more than 250,000 reports, and a higher proportion of them were found to be actionable.

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, called on internet companies to take on more of the work themselves.

“The horrifying amount of online child sexual abuse material removed by the IWF shows the true scale of the vile threat we are facing. This is why I have made tackling it one of my personal missions,” he said. “I welcome [the IWF’s] impressive work and have been encouraged by the progress being made by the tech companies in the fight against online predators. But l want the web giants to do more to make their platforms safe.”

When an image depicting child abuse is flagged for removal by the IWF, a record of the file is created, known as a hash, which can be matched automatically to future attempts to upload the same picture on social networks and photo sharing sites.

The IWF says it has created more than 320,000 unique hashes since it began using the technology. The company also operates a blacklist of URLs that contain child abuse imagery, which is distributed to British internet service providers which in turn block the sites on a voluntary basis.

The charity also relies on the manual work of 13 human reviewers, who operate under a memorandum of understanding from the Association of Chief Police Officers, which provides them with protection from the legal consequences of accessing child abuse images.

Catherine, one of the IWF’s analysts, said: “We’ve seen a huge rise in child abuse imagery captured by webcams this year. On commercial sites, where an offender could be making a profit from the material, the ages of the children appear to be getting younger. This certainly makes you more aware of online safety and that’s a message I’m happy to share.”

People who are worried about a sexual image or video online of someone who may be under 18 can make an anonymous report on the IWF’s website.

. . .

World Campaign post, September 5, 2018:

The End Of Civilization As We Knew It, Part Seven.

We continue our reflections on the end of civilization as we knew it, focusing on important news and related issues at the core of what the state of our civilization already was, which in large part led to where it is, as well as showing us where it needs to go.

…Two years ago, in the summer of 2016, before we knew the full weight of what was about to fall on history, an historic moment occurred.

The UN and related agencies created The Global Partnership To End Violence Against Children to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goal to end abuse and neglect of a billion children, sexual, physical, in warzones—half the children on earth. The initial project has been child sexual abuse on the internet—a darkness that very few people have fully focussed on to the the full extent of the increasing scope and social impact, violating the youngest most. Concentrating on that specific in a digital world is a critical accomplishment. The rest depends on many things, including, as we’ve pointed out, a UN system which itself stops abusing children, along with the entire aid and NGO universe of groups which this summer was shown more than ever before to be in its own universe of horror of sexually abusing children in countless numbers.”

Half the children on earth abused. This is arguably the single most abhorrent statistic on record in the history of humanity.

But it hasn’t gotten a fraction of the media attention of—almost anything.

Another of the primary measures of the values of the human species and of the state of human civilization.

Nonetheless, first, as we pointed out two years ago, the acknowledgement of the enormity of this issue and the international commitment to end it is a crucial step, regardless of the impediments. And second, there has been a concerted concrete effort with results, albeit just the beginning, to stop child sexual abuse online—an increasing scourge of our era. The effort that received support as the initial focus for the UN project was already in process, funded by the UK government to its credit—We Protect (international government agencies, organizations and tech companies) to end the sexual exploitation of children online and particularly the leading resource on the issue in the UK and globally in many ways, The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

The scope of the horror, however, as the IWF and related institutions and organizations have made clear, is of another dimension, in more ways than one.

On Monday, the BBC News had two related reports:

“Child sexual exploitation: How big is the scale of online abuse?” and “Sajid Javid threatens tech giants over online child sex abuse”.

Javid is the Home Secretary in the UK.

Yesterday there was a follow-up report in Forbes, “When It Comes To Child Sexual Exploitation, We Cannot Ignore The Darknet”.

These are posted below, along with a related New York Times report from August 7, “From Child’s Abuse to the Dark Web: Germans Recoil at a Mother’s Role” and an excerpt from our January 11 post with the Internet Watch Foundation report, “’The worst abuse is suffered by the youngest.’ New statistics show babies and toddlers suffer the worst sexual abuse online”

First, let’s back up.

A one-dimensional axiom repeated often enough to enable individual and social denial is that statistics of huge numbers related to any horror aren’t comprehensible, for various reasons.

Nonsense. Its tragically the impact of enormous numbers of victims that is often the catalyst for social waking-up and radical change.

So, here are some numbers about our children, right now, every day.

First, what age do we live in?

In a fundamental way, socially, culturally and economically, we live in the digital age.

Last week, we posted an article from The Guardian about the impact.

Its overwhelming and omnipresent.

Its literally changing our brains as a species—in a terrifying way. This isn’t an anti-technology rant. It’s a quaint thing called a fact. How we deal with it is another question requiring many more posts (past and future).

Meanwhile, who is impacted most?

Children, of course, whose brains are in basic developmental mode. The younger the more so. Indisputable basic science (and common sense.)

So how many children are using digital media, computers, tablets, mobile phones?

The great majority on earth at this point by their teen years and a huge number starting as toddlers.

These brains of a couple of billion children are being utterly altered. They don’t have basic cognitive capacities and all the related developmental human capacities in nearly the same way as humans have since they started reading and writing—unless they’ve had the blessing of parents and other adults who intervened against the grain to help change this, or get that assistance later, but at an enormous cost in numerous ways. Rewiring the brain gets harder with time.

Now let’s look at the number of this new generation of children who are already cognitively altered who are sexually abused online.

Let’s start with the number of children exposed to online adult pornography. That’s a form of sexual abuse. It’s a personal responsibility of caregiver adults to whatever extent they can to control it (which is far more than many do) and a collective responsibility of adults as a society, corporations, institutions and governments. Online pornography is virtually universally graphic, objectified, increasingly violent, with younger and younger looking participants–flooding the internet for free, showing up unwanted in a click related to something seemingly unconnected, or in never-ending amounts of grotesque content if sought.

It hardly existed in the print world this way before the internet and to the degree it did, could much more easily be kept from children in any form. It still harmed. Playboy and all its more graphic successors starting well over half a century ago certainly helped abuse and damage a lot of kids and create a more dumbed-down sexist world, as did (and does) Madison Avenue for that matter, and all its predecessor forms.

But the internet is another situation altogether.

Two years ago, Katherine Sellgren, BBC News education and family reporter wrote:

“Most children are exposed to online pornography by their early teenage years, a study warns.

About 53% of 11- to 16-year-olds have seen explicit material online, nearly all of whom (94%) had seen it by 14, the Middlesex University study says.

The research, commissioned by the NSPCC and the children’s commissioner for England, said many teenagers were at risk of becoming desensitised to porn.”

This isn’t different in any substantial way than other studies in other countries. And the rate of increase of this exposure is faster and faster as it becomes quantitatively larger.

So over half of the world’s children are probably sexually abused in this way. And that’s probably understated. It’s a subject, even though widely studied and widely decried, that clearly hasn’t come close to being fully absorbed as to its destructive impact.

Now let’s go to the most commonly understood child sexual abuse online–even more impossible to stomach for any normal human. Video and images of actual children being abused–starting with babies, to toddlers, to young kids, to teens–and being sought after and seen by countless predators. Clearly millions of children abused (we don’t know how many), millions of images (we know that from authorities counting, but again we only know what they’ve been able to find, which is universally acknowledged as far lower than what exists), and, from the most recent studies of 80,000 in the UK extrapolated globally, estimated from only a 25 to 64 cohort of adults, around 8.5 million perpetrators based just on 2013 UN population numbers (with studies showing exponential growth in short periods based on capacity for discovery, so again, including factoring in population growth and changing demographics, the number is probably much larger).

Just stop. Take a break. Just be with those numbers before reading on.

We go now to the following:

The two reports from the BBC two days ago on September 3 and one yesterday from Forbes noted at the outset. A report on August 7 from The New York Times on a repulsive case in Germany that exemplifies the larger unseen terror. And concluding with the excerpt from our post on January 11 with the report from the Internet Watch Foundation.

“Child sexual exploitation: How big is the scale of online abuse?”

By Reality Check team, BBC News, 3 September 2018

The full scale of online child sexual exploitation is difficult to know. 

Sites are often disguised to make them appear legal, or are hidden on the dark web, which enables people to act anonymously and untraceably online.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) found 78,589 individual web addresses worldwide showing images of child abuse in 2017.

Of these, 274 were hosted in the UK. Each of these URLs could contain thousands of images or videos.

The IWF employs a team of analysts who proactively search for this material. They are responsible for finding about half of these sites, with the other half being drawn to its attention by members of the public.

Five countries were responsible for hosting 87% of this material:

  • Netherlands
  • United States
  • Canada
  • France
  • Russia

Worldwide, Europe hosted the most sites (65%), overtaking the US, which used to have the highest concentration of sites containing images of child sexual abuse hosted on its servers.

There were almost 8.5 million reports of material showing child sex abuse from 45 countries around the world in 2016, according to the membership body of internet hotlines, Inhope.

This includes reports made to the IWF, and doesn’t represent 8.5 million individual sites.

But it does not tell you anything about where this material was being produced or viewed.

Offenders could be viewing material from the UK, hosted on a server in the Netherlands, showing images of children in South East Asia, for example.

While fewer than 1% of these sites were actually run in the UK, a major concern is the number of people here accessing material, which is hosted overseas.

The Home Office reports that there are 80,000 individuals in the UK known to law enforcement who may pose a threat to children online.

That includes people who have been arrested, charged or convicted for offences involving indecent images of children. But it does not include anyone known to police who has not yet had action taken against them.

Inhope says that the hosting of sites containing these images is only one part of the picture when it comes to the “creation, distribution, and consumption” of child sexual abuse material.

“While hosting reports can tell us where the highest concentration of servers containing child sexual abuse material are located, this should not be conflated with the production and consumption…which can happen anywhere.

“The absence of hosting information in a particular geographic region does not mean that abuse is not taking place, that digital abuse content is not being created, or that there are no victims in need.”

“Sajid Javid threatens tech giants over online child sex abuse”

BBC News and Joe Whitwell, BBC Technology reporter3 September 2018

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has warned he will “not be afraid to take action” against tech giants if they do not help to tackle child sexual abuse online.

Mr Javid said he was “demanding” companies take “more measures” – or face new legislation.

He added that some sites were refusing to take online abuse seriously – and highlighted live-streaming of child abuse as a growing problem.

Facebook, Google and Microsoft say they are committed to tackling the issue.

Mr Javid said it was his “personal mission” to tackle online child abuse, adding: “I’ve been impressed by the progress the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple have made on counter-terrorism.

“Now I want to see the same level of commitment from these companies and others for child sexual exploitation.”

Last week, his cabinet colleague Jeremy Hunt criticised Google for failing to “cooperate” with the UK over the issue.

Mr Javid refused to go into detail about what new legislation surrounding abuse might look like.

However, he stated his desire for tech companies to work more closely with law enforcement agencies, stop child grooming on their sites and block abuse material as soon as they detect it being uploaded.

Smartphone technology 

Referrals of child abuse images to the National Crime Agency (NCA) have surged by 700% in the last five years, according to new figures – and the NCA estimates that about 80,000 people in the UK present some kind of sexual threat to children online.

Furthermore, the images being uncovered are getting more graphic, the Home Office said, with abuse of babies and children under 10 becoming more frequently documented.

The Home Office warned that live-streaming of abuse was also on the rise, enabled by faster internet speeds, smartphone technology and the growing ease of money transfers across borders.

In his speech, Mr Javid said: “One officer I met during a visit to the NCA’s Child Exploitation Online Protection Command, who had previously worked in counter-terrorism for over 20 years, told me how in all his years of working he’s never been so shocked by the scale of the threat or the determination of the offenders as he is in his current job.”

He went on: “The threat has evolved a lot more quickly than the industry’s response and industry has just not kept up.

“So let me say this – I’m not just asking for change, I am demanding it and the people are demanding it too – and if the web giants do not take more measures to remove this type of content from their platforms, I will not be afraid to take action.”

What can tech firms do? 

By Joe Whitwell, BBC Technology reporter

Millions of hours of video are uploaded to social networks every day, so finding illegal material can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Most of the tech giants have been investing in artificial intelligence to proactively search for videos and posts that contravene their policies or the laws of the countries they operate in.

In March 2017, Facebook rolled out pattern-recognition algorithms to help detect Facebook Live posts from people who might be thinking of harming themselves.

But algorithms alone cannot police content – and even a small percentage of incorrectly flagged videos could amount to thousands of clips every day.

Human reviewers remain an important part of the equation – but hiring them costs money.

In January, Germany introduced a new law demanding that social networks quickly remove illegal material or face fines of up to 50m euros.

That proved to be just the motivation many social networks needed to step up to the challenge. Facebook reportedly recruited several hundred new staff in Germany to deal with reports of illegal content.

Figures indicate that police in England and Wales recorded about 23 child sexual offences involving the internet every day in 2017/18 – up from about 15 a day in the previous 12 months.

The scale of the offending has led to demands for internet giants to take more action to stop access to sexual abuse images and videos.

Technology companies doing more to remove indecent images from circulation would be a “monumental landmark” in child protection, the NCA said.

There have also been calls for tougher sentences for people who download indecent images of children.

The agency added that in one week of action in July, 131 arrests were made, including teachers, a children’s entertainer and a former police officer. Only 13 of those arrested were registered sex offenders, 19 others held positions of trust.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which assesses and removes online child abuse material, said it fully supported Mr Javid in his warning.

Susie Hargreaves, IWF chief executive, said offenders were becoming more “sophisticated in their crime”.

Tony Stower, head of child safety online at the NSPCC, said it was right that the Home Secretary is laying down the challenge to big tech companies.

He said: “These firms have been told time and again to play their part in stopping online child abuse, but have done very little.”

The NSPCC is calling on the government to create an independent regulator with power to investigate and fine platforms which do not do enough to catch groomers.

‘Cutting edge’

Facebook said it takes the exploitation of children very seriously.

A spokesperson told the BBC: “It’s why Facebook works closely with child protection experts, the police and other technology companies to block and remove exploitative photos and videos, as well as to prevent grooming online.

“We agree with the home secretary that by continuing to work together in this way, we can make more progress, faster.”

Google said it takes a zero-tolerance approach to child sexual abuse material and has invested for two decades in technology, teams and partnerships to tackle the issue.

The firm announced that it was making available “cutting-edge” artificial intelligence that can dramatically improve how non-governmental organisations and other technology companies review content “at scale” and protect more children.

Microsoft condemned child sexual exploitation as a “horrific crime”, stating that the company works closely with others in industry, government and civil society to help combat its spread online.

A spokeswoman said: “Predators are constantly evolving their tactics and that is why we work collaboratively with other companies… to create tools that protect children online and help bring perpetrators to justice.”

How to report child sex exploitation

If you’re worried that a child or young person is at risk or is being abused you can contact the children’s social care team at their local council. You can choose not to give your details.

You can report it online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command (Ceop).

Or you can call the NSPCC 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 for expert advice and support.

If a child is at immediate risk call 999, or call the police on 101 if you think a crime has been committed.

Children and young people can call Childline free on 0800 1111 where trained counsellors are available 24 hours a day, every day.

“When It Comes To Child Sexual Exploitation, We Cannot Ignore The Darknet”

Forbes, Nikita Malik, Contributor, Cybersecurity, Sep 4, 2018

Yesterday Sajid Javid, the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary, demanded that technology companies take child sexual exploitation more seriously. He warned of “taking action” against those that refused to do so.

Impressed by the steps that Facebook, Microsoft, and Google had taken on terrorism, the Home Secretary asked them to use the same techniques to tackle child sexual exploitation.

One of the suggestions was for technology companies to work together to come up with tools to detect online child grooming, which can then be offered for free to other companies. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same as The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIF CT).

But in actual fact, the techniques used by tech companies to find image patterns to feed into technology to remove terrorist material – known as “hashing” – was first done in the realm of ending child sexual exploitation.

And while the Home Secretary’s comments are welcome – and the creation of an independent regulator or fines are sure to incentivize platforms to review more content using human intelligence –  the blame cannot be put squarely on technology companies alone.

I have been a vocal critic of some tech techniques of monitoring terrorist content, but I cannot see how a successful policy will operate without one critical component: more resources in policing the Darknet, where the majority of child sexual exploitation material lies largely unregulated, and with no responsibility on the part of any company.

In fact, one could go so far as to argue that as social media companies become more savvy in regulating their platforms, we will see more of this material appear on the Darknet.

The Darknet – “the criminal underbelly of the internet” – is hard to access, largely unregulated and acts as a repository of “hidden” sites accessible through uniquely downloadable software programs that support encryption.

Users of the platform use sites as a place to upload, share, and view tens of thousands of posts involving the sexual abuse of children, all operating under the impression that their use of The Onion Router (TOR) makes their online activity untraceable.

Take the case of Playpen, a members-only Darknet website that hosted material relating to the sexual exploitation of children. The site had around 160,000 members worldwide, making it, at the time, the largest child pornography website that the FBI had ever come across.

The subsequent investigation into the identities of the site’s users, led by the FBI and the United States Department of Justice, was one of the largest and most challenging in the fight against online child exploitation.

To start, the Darknet is not impenetrable. The first lead in the Playpen investigation, for example, came in December 2014 when a “foreign entity” shared the true IP address of the Playpen server, because of two errors made by the designer of the website.

Using what are described in court documents as “standard investigation measures,” the FBI located the site on four hard drives on a server in North Carolina. Seizing a copy, they then arrested the man deemed to be its owner in Naples, Florida: Steven Chase, who was then sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The seized copy of the site was then placed onto a government-owned server in the Eastern District of Virginia, and a warrant was obtained to deploy a Network Investigative Technique (NIT) to help reveal the true identities of the site’s users.

Playpen was then hosted on the government-owned server for 13 days, from 20 February to 4 March 2015. During this time, the NIT was implemented thousands of times, gathering crucial information which was compiled into “lead packages” and sent to relevant offices or authorities inside the United States and around the world.

Though it was not long after the shutdown of Playpen that another website grew to become the largest child pornography website on the TOR network, the investigation was a success in that it produced at least 870 arrests worldwide (368 of which were in Europe) and led to the identification or rescue of at least 259 sexually abused children outside of the United States.

The Darknet is an important place for policing, and its role in facilitating criminal activity – including child sexual exploitation – cannot be ignored. It is troubling that it is not mentioned in the Home Secretary’s remarks.

In the United Kingdom, the National Crime Agency and GCHQ set up a specialist unit to look at the Darknet and child abuse back in 2014. But to end child sexual exploitation online, it remains clear that more resources must be dedicated to policing and coordinating intelligence approaches on the Darknet.

“From Child’s Abuse to the Dark Web: Germans Recoil at a Mother’s Role”

The New York Times, By Melissa Eddy and Christopher F. Schuetze, Aug. 7, 2018

BERLIN — The case would have stoked public outrage if the mother had known her young son was being raped and had done nothing to stop it.

But when Germans heard that she and her boyfriend had raped the boy themselves and served him up to pedophiles on the dark web, the fury only grew.

The mother and her companion — identified only as Berrin T., 48, and Christian L., 39, in keeping with German privacy laws — were convicted on Tuesday of sexually abusing her son over the course of two years, beginning when he was about 7. The abuse included inappropriate touching, rape and making videos that were placed as advertisements on the dark web for pedophiles — among them a German soldier — who paid the couple thousands of dollars to abuse the boy.

For many Germans, the most horrific part of a horrific case was the woman’s complicity, which violated deeply held assumptions about motherhood and contradicted the common image of sexual predators as male. But the case also shocked the country for the severity of the abuse and the failure of authorities to protect the child, despite repeated opportunities for intervention.

Interest groups and politicians called for an investigation and for better training of social workers and judges in recognizing potential sexual abuse of children. Johannes-Wilhelm Rörig, Germany’s independent commissioner for questions pertaining to sexual abuse of children, called for an inquiry to determine what signals may have been missed.

“There were obviously structural problems in cooperation between the courts and authorities that must now be thoroughly investigated,” Mr. Rörig said. “The case in Staufen has exposed an array of misjudgments and failures. We owe it to this child to draw the right consequences.”

The pair, who lived in Staufen, in southwestern Germany, were arrested in September 2017. They were found guilty on Tuesday of 40 charges of aggravated sexual assault, including rape, forced prostitution, distribution of child pornography and child endangerment. Both had admitted at the start of the 11-day trial to abusing the boy, now 10.

Christian L. was also found guilty of sexually assaulting a 2-year-old girl in early 2015. He was sentenced to 12 years in jail and ordered to remain in preventive custody upon his release.

According to the court, Berrin T. helped facilitate her boyfriend’s contact with the little girl, who was mentally and physically disabled. Several months later, in May 2015, the girl’s mother broke off contact with the couple, effectively ending her abuse.

Christian L., a known pedophile with a criminal record who had previously shown an interest in abusing little girls only, then began abusing the boy, the court said. Berrin T. did nothing to stop the increasingly perverse advances on her son, which began with showing him pornographic videos and bribing him with expensive gifts in exchange for being allowed to touch him inappropriately, it said.

When the trial opened in June, Christian L. admitted to the charges of abuse, telling the judge “I am the main culprit.”

But the presiding judge, Stefan Bürgelin, handed a longer prison sentence, of 12 and a half years, to the boy’s mother. She was always present during the assaults, the court said, initially calming the child and then sexually assaulting him herself.

In his pronouncement, the judge cited a video showing Berrin T. violating her son as evidence that her offenses were not only sexual, but also included emotional and psychological abuse. He said she broke her son’s trust in his “closest female caregiver” and robbed him of the protection of his home.

“If the boy dared to show or voice any resistance, he was frequently ignored, or dismissed with physical abuse,” the court said, adding that the couple would “regularly shout at him” and insult him using “an utterly contemptuous choice of words.”

Before the arrest, the youth services agency considered the man a potential danger to children because he had been caught with child pornography in an unrelated case, and was ordered by the authorities to stay away from children. The agency also knew that he was frequently in the boy’s home.

In early 2017, the agency’s concern was great enough to temporarily place the boy in a foster home, but he was returned to his mother after she convinced a family court that she was aware of her boyfriend’s history and could protect her son from him.

The mother, who had sat stonily throughout the trial, showed no emotion while the sentence was read out, German news media reported. She chose not to challenge the ruling, which in addition to jail sentences, included fines worth 42,500 euros, or $49,200, to be paid to the victims.

“She accepts full responsibility for what happened to her son,” Matthias Wagner, an attorney who represented the mother told the Badische Zeitung newspaper. “This is important for the boy. He can now be certain that this process is over.”

But in a country where a mother’s “right to the protection and welfare of society” is enshrined in the Constitution, it was the role played by Berrin T. that most appalled Germans.

“When parents become criminals to their children, the state must protect the child, with everything in its power,” the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper wrote in a commentary. “It must protect children from their parents.”

The identities of the victims were not made public, in keeping with child protection laws. Authorities have placed the boy in the care of a foster family.

Several of the men who paid to assault the boy have also been convicted, and on Monday, one was handed a 10-year prison sentence by a Spanish court. All but one found their victim on the dark web — parts of the internet that are concealed from view and are used for anonymity and criminal activity.

Peter Egetemaier, chief of the criminal police in Freiburg, said investigators were lucky to get a tip from an anonymous user who came across the videos advertising the boy. A buyer had asked whether he could kill the boy after assaulting him, leading the tipster to alert both the federal police and the state police.

“It was an exceptional case — we were very lucky — but it won’t always be like this,” said Mr. Egetemaier in a telephone interview. Because Christian L. cooperated with authorities, they were able to glean crucial insights into the netherworld of criminal pedophilia that takes place online.

Confident that they have found everyone involved in the boy’s case, Mr. Egetemaier’s team is combing through material they collected to try to find suspects in unrelated cases.

“He opened a door to this very dark world for us,” Mr. Egetemaier said.

. . .

World Campaign post excerpt, January 11, 2018:

In conclusion for now, let’s look into the deepest heart of this evil. Not looking is the first sin. Talking is rarely an option for a child. It’s certainly not an option for an infant or toddler.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) in the UK works to end online child sexual abuse.

It’s of note that IWF is an initial partner in an action program of the United Nation’s effort with others to end child abuse–of half the children on earth–as they announced in 2016.

Ending this ultimate disgrace is a linchpin of the new sustainable development goals–the purpose of which is to, well, save the earth and all living things and bring basic needs and rights to all.

On Christmas Day, Metro in the UK, reported on a new study from IWF:

“Babies and toddlers suffer the most severe forms of child sexual abuse”

Babies and toddlers are more likely to suffer the most severe forms of child sex abuse than older children. A groundbreaking study of child abuse images has found a indirect correlation between the age of the victim and the severity of the image.

Children aged two and under are most likely to suffer abuse constituting a category A image – penetrative sexual activity, sexual activity with an animal, or sadism. Research from the Internet Watch Foundation found that Category B images, which involve non-penetrative sexual activity, were steadier throughout different age groups. But indecent Category C images, which do not fall within categories A or B, were more common among 14 to 15-year-olds than the most severe Category A pictures.

This is attributed to self-generated images which are then posted online, the Internet Watch Foundation said. Susie Hargreaves, CEO of the organisation, said: ‘At the IWF, our analysts do what others can’t by finding images of real life child sexual abuse in order to have these images removed from the internet. Every time an image is shared and watched by another person the child suffers re-victimisation, and we know this can have a huge and long-lasting impact on a victim.

‘These shocking statistics speak for themselves – the worst abuse is suffered by the youngest. As everyone knows, babies are utterly defenceless. ‘We know these statistics will horrify and upset people but it’s important that people understand why we need to keep doing what we do.’ The study of more images between January 2014 and September 2017 found that 63% of sex abuse images showing children aged zero to two were Category A.

The figure dropped to 57% for three to six-year-olds, 36% for seven to 10-year-olds and 20% for 11 to 13-year-olds. Just 16% of images showing 14 to 16-year-olds were Category A, and the severe images made up just 7% of pictures involving 16 to 17- year-olds. In general, the likelihood of images being Category A increased with age, the watchdog said.

A spokesperson for the NSPCC said: ‘We must never forget that behind every child abuse image is a crime scene and behind each picture is a victim who has suffered a terrifying ordeal.” …

How much mainstream media did you see about this?

In fact, the IWF released this study in October, two months earlier.

Thanks to them and to others, the unthinkable will not be avoided successfully much longer.

For those of us who are victims/survivors, it can’t come too fast.

For those of us who are human with any heart, any conscience of any kind, it can’t come too fast.

We end, for now, with the beautiful innocent faces of the babies and toddlers. Countless millions.

Start your new year with this. Sit with this. Squirm in this. Be sick in every way with this, as long as it takes to make ongoing action to end it like breathing. And sit with the question as to what kind of species could do this?

What species should or could exist that becomes aware, unless it stops it?

. . .

To be continued.