The confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson has brought the topic of child pornography to the forefront of the hearing. Unfortunately, much of what is being said is either politically motivated or comes from a perspective of ignorance. The politics of these child pornography hearings is in many ways shameful, however, I cannot allow the ignorant statement of some of these politicians to go unchallenged, as they demonstrate ignorance or even stupidity which can ultimately harm children.
In my 42 years of working in the field of sexual aggression, I have profiled many sex offenses where the target was a child. In the vast majority of the cases, these offenders were not “one and done”. They are repeat offenders whose sole focus on children often starts in their early teens.
Of course one cannot assume that all individuals who view child pornography are pedophiles and will eventually escalate to assaulting a child. However….statistics show that approximately 40% of people who habitually view child porn will act out with a child. According to the Mayo Clinic, studies and cases indicate 76% of those arrested for child pornography had molested a child in the past.
“Child pornography offenses are a valid diagnostic indicator of pedophilia.” (J. Abnormal Psychology, 2006 August, 115(3))
The reality is that most sex offenders reach a time developmentally where they no longer have the drive to commit a sexual assault. Unfortunately, the general exception to that rule are pedophiles. Many experts will say pedophilia is much like alcoholism, an addiction. That perhaps it can be controlled but not cured. Media outlets are quoting legislators and the nominee herself with statements to the effect that the sentencing guidelines punishing a young person for using child porn are too harsh, that leniency is called for as it pertains to the age of the offender.
My response to that? What about the child or children who have been harmed by this young person, or future victims if this offender is not dealt with correctly? Incarceration is generally appropriate, however, probation and effective counseling must be mandatory with continuous monitoring.
So, Judge Ketanji Brown’s record on child pornography rulings- what are we to make of them? And the uproar that has taken place because of them: is this legislative ignorance…or politics, once again, rearing its’ ugly head?
Any judge or any nominee must be aware of this and act accordingly, otherwise the offender will continue to offend and children’s voices will take a back seat to politics and ignorance.
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