Crimes against children on the internet

THE protection of children from harm, and especially from sexual abuse, is the primary responsibility of every parent and every adult, especially those with moral and legal responsibilities in church and state.

Readers have responded positively to the previous article, expressing their relief and gratitude that an alleged child rapist, Priestess Karole Reward Ubina Israel, 29, of Solana, Cagayan, has been arrested and hopefully faces trial on child molestation charges. The child victim was 15 years old when she was allegedly first abused by him.

According to the child victim, this priest in Cagayan videotaped the sexual abuse of the child several times and threatened to post it on social media, which would instill fear, intimidate and control the child.

Ms. Karole Israel admits to the sexual acts, but claims they were consensual. Republic Act (RA) 11930 or the Anti-Online Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Act. However, Section 5 provides: “Effect of victim’s consent. – The victim’s consent is not essential or relevant and does not serve as a defense in pursuing the unlawful acts prohibited under this law.” He is one of the few priests ever to have been charged with child molestation in court in the Philippines, and none have ever been convicted or imprisoned. The priests apparently enjoy complete impunity. This is an invitation to them to continue abusing children and more.

That is the power of the church as an institution. It is able to protect child molesters and make victims suffer and intimidate government officials by allowing out-of-court settlements. Over a dozen child sex abuse charges against Filipino priests have been filed with prosecutors in recent years, but all have been settled privately or dismissed by prosecutors.

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Today, seven priests are serving in various dioceses who have fled allegations or convictions of child molestation in the United States and have taken refuge here. As Cardinal Antonio Tagle said in two television interviews, including the BBC’s HardTalk, the Church considers child abuse an internal matter and treats it privately. Pope Francis disagrees. Suspects should be turned over to civil authorities as crimes may have been committed.

Child advocates welcome the disclosure of the truth about this case, painful as it is for the victim and the community. Only the truth will alert and warn people that child molesters can be anyone and can abuse them anytime, anywhere. Everyone has to protect children.

Priests and bishops can be sinners like everyone else and must be held responsible for crimes against children like everyone else. There must be no impunity, deference, or special protection for them. The law applies equally to all, and when the evidence is compelling and convincing, the punishment must follow the law.

Posting child abuse images to blackmail or intimidate victims is one of the worst negative uses of social media, as Fr Karole Israel is said to have done it to his victims. Internet-based platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter, and TikTok are used to post vile, degrading, and abusive images of children being sexually abused.

The Internet is an instant worldwide communication technology that transmits messages and images to the social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, etc., which are transmitted through the telecom companies that provide internet service providers (ISPs) with internet connections. The Internet can be used by anyone who has a smartphone and can pay for an hourly or 24-hour connection and broadcast images of live child abuse sex shows.

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These ISPs are the avenues through which images and videos are posted online and the channels through which child sexual abuse images and live stream videos of child abuse shows are shared with depraved pedophile criminals around the world who order and pay for them. This is a horrific crime prohibited by RA 11930, which was passed in July 2022.

The challenge for the ISPs and their telecom company owners is to provide the most powerful software based on artificial intelligence (AI) to detect, capture and block such nasty images and videos. This is mandated by RA 11930.

Because there are so many, it may be impossible to prevent them from being created and made public, but not impossible to intercept and capture and prevent them from reaching the public or intended abusers, and then turn them over to the authorities report so that the abusers can be identified and brought to justice.

The social media platforms under Philippine law are referred to as “participatory network platform providers” or “social media facilitators”.[ies]’ and have been used to rig elections, brainwash the public and broadcast malicious content such as videos and images of child rape and live streaming of child abuse. They are mandated by RA11930 to identify and block and remove such content from reaching the public. They do this in Germany, Australia, France, Turkey, the United States and European Union countries so that they will not be held criminally responsible for illegal content on their platforms.

They have outsourced this work to contractors who hire call center reps to train them as “content moderators” in the Philippines and elsewhere. These Filipinos have to look at a quota of child abusive images and other hateful and barbaric posts on the platforms and decide whether to keep or delete them. They don’t appear to be reporting them to the authorities, as required by law. What is required is the installation of artificial intelligence based detection software.

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A content moderator out of thousands can see 1,000 abusive images in a day and decide to delete them, but must first report them to the Philippine Cybercrime Center against Children, established in 2019, to investigate the source of the abusive material and the individuals responsible for posting responsible for the abusive material. It’s already completely overwhelmed with the task, how much more so when it gets the content found by the content moderation call centers? Everyone—parents, citizens, church, and state—is called upon to behave in a morally correct manner and to respect and follow the gospel commission. Jesus of Nazareth says that children are the most important thing in the world, even bishops. He also says that the offenders will have a millstone tied around their necks and brought to justice (Matthew 18:1-7). That’s what we all need to strive for, but most importantly, we need to help victims heal, recover, and be empowered. Report abuse confidentially [email protected] or +63 9228768621.