Children

Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Not Understand the Dangers and Legalities of Child Porn Possession?

Many countries in the world have laws that expressly prohibit the production, distribution, possession, and viewing of child pornography.¹ In the United States, Title 18 of the United States Code (USC) spells out these laws (see this page), and it has been established in federal court that child pornography is not protected by the First Amendment and “free speech” laws.

The UK also has a Protection of Children Act, “to prevent the exploitation of children by making indecent photographs of them; and to penalise the distribution, showing and advertisement of such indecent photographs.” (See this website.)

Dangers of Child Pornography

One reason that even looking at child pornography is illegal in most countries (among many other reasons, of course) is that many experts believe that viewing child pornography can fuel a pedophile’s desire, and then lead him or her into into an actual act of child molestation. For example, the article “From Fantasy to Reality: The Link Between Viewing Child Pornography and Molesting Children,” published in 2004, stated, “The existence of images that sexually exploit children represents tangible evidence of past, present and, most likely, future abuse.” Also, “…each child pornography case should be viewed as a red flag to the possibility of actual child molestation.”

child porn 2Also, note that child pornography is often used by a child molester as part of the process of grooming potential victims. That same article stated, “Child pornography is also used to break down the child’s barriers to sexual behavior,… Repeated exposure to both adult and child pornography is intended to diminish the child’s inhibitions and give the impression that sex between adults and children is normal, acceptable and enjoyable.”²

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Child Pornography

An August 1, 2016, letter to all elders worldwide said that elders should call their Legal Department if they discover a congregant has been viewing child pornography. Also, while the letter does say that “one who has engaged in child sexual abuse does not qualify to receive any privileges in the congregation for many years, if ever,” in defining what they mean by “child sexual abuse,” the letter says, “Depending on the circumstances of the case, it may include involvement with child pornography…”³

The key word is “may.” According to this letter, not everyone who has been found with child pornography falls under their definition of someone who is involved with “child sexual abuse.” In turn, that person also may not face these restrictions of privileges, mentioned in this letter.

Grossly Lacking

All of this brings up some important issues. First, there is the question of whether or not police would be called in cases of someone found to be viewing child pornography; I personally could not find mandatory reporting laws regarding child pornography, meaning that a person would be legally obligated to call the police if they know of someone who possesses this material. (This doesn’t mean those laws don’t exist; I simply don’t have access to extensive law libraries.)

That being said, it was testified to during the Australian Royal Commission Inquiry in 2015, of which Jehovah’s Witnesses were a part, that some 1006 alleged pedophiles were reported to elders in that country, and not one case was reported to the police by elders. Not one. Note, these were cases of molestation and child rape; if an act of molestation didn’t warrant a call to police by elders, I highly doubt they would take the initiative to make that call for child porn.

Consider how failing to call the police in cases of child pornography possession can realistically put all children at risk, since persons who view this material are likely to actually molest a child, as said above. Even if elders decide to restrict that person’s access to children in their congregation, he or she may be targeting children who play at a nearby playground, who are friends with their own children, and so on.

Jehovah’s Witness elders are also not qualified to investigate if this person has been using pornography as a way to groom potential victims. I would wonder if they are told to consider if this person has been paying special attention to any one child in the congregation, and if so, to ask that child if this person was sharing pornographic images with him or her. Even if these were their instructions, elders have no qualifications or credentials to handle such an investigation properly.

Homemade and Using Porn at Home

Another unaddressed issue is if the child pornography is homemade. Spy cams and nanny cams can be placed in a variety of places around a person’s home or in public restrooms, changing rooms, and the like, so that it’s somewhat easy for a person with access to children to make their own pornography. Again, elders in the congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses are in no position to investigate those materials, in order to determine if the person made this pornography themselves, and if the children in those pictures and films can be identified.

Another risk is when a pedophile may turn his or her attention to their own children; this may be to make their own homemade child pornography, or to groom their own children for the purposes of molestation. Are elders given instruction to question the children of the person watching child pornography, to see if they have been purposely exposed to it? Even so, elders would have no legal authority to remove that child from the home, if they are potential victims of molestation.

Leave It to the Police

Also, do elders know if a person has actually destroyed any child pornography they have in their possession? How would elders check a person’s computer to ensure all downloaded movies and photos have been deleted, and that all physical copies of photos and movies are destroyed?

There is, of course, no way to know if any Jehovah’s Witnesses have made a habit of watching child pornography, and certainly anyone who visits such websites or buys the material does run the risk of being caught by law enforcement. However, considering the thousands of cases of actual child molestation that have been discovered within the religion, it does seem possible that at least some cases of child pornography possession and viewing would have been uncovered.

Whatever the number, all of these issues and questions are yet more reasons why this matter should be investigated by the police, each and every time, whether or not the elders are legally required to notify them. When the risk of future child molestation is involved, it should not be considered an internal matter in a religion. No one, least of all elders with no training or qualifications, should be evaluating the “circumstances” to determine if child pornography “may” qualify as child sexual abuse. This entire matter alone is proof positive that Jehovah’s Witnesses still do not understand the dynamics of child sex abuse, are not willing to learn about all the risk factors for this type of abuse, and are not actually willing to take all steps necessary to protect children from the risk of this abuse.

 

*** ***

¹See this website for a chart of countries and their current status regarding child pornography laws.

² Open a PDF of the full article with this link.

³ To see this letter in full, please open the PDF of the attorney handbook on this page; the letter begins on page 183.

*** ***

Please share via social media below.

Advertisements