27 February 2012
What is the worst crime you can think of? There is a crime so heinous that it encompasses many of the most violent acts in one. Unfortunately, the worst crime imaginable has the most innocent and vulnerable of victims: our children. There is no worse crime than child pornography.
The idea that grown men can sexually abuse a child in unspeakable ways is mind-boggling. Children are gullible and easily persuaded. They can’t defend themselves physically or psychologically against adults and therefore are at their mercy. These children have no say in what is happening to them. They are held captive against their will and forced to perform on camera. They have no rights and live in fear every day. That is what child pornography is about.
We tell our children that there is no such thing as monsters, but monsters do walk among us. They prey on children in parks, schoolyards, quiet neighbourhoods and social activities. I’m afraid to let my kids walk to school alone because these predators may lay in waiting.
Former Nova Scotia Roman Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey was caught with 155,000 pornographic images of children, some including bondage and torture. Lahey was sentenced to 15 months in jail but walked away from the Ottawa courthouse as a free man. Based on his pre-trial time in custody, he was deemed to have served his sentence.
During the trial, a psychiatrist deemed that Lahey was not a pedophile. I don’t have a PhD in psychiatry, but I’m pretty certain if you have 155,000 images of child pornography in your possession, that makes you a pedophile.
In January, Marc Rempel, of Waterloo, was sentenced to six months for possessing child pornography. The Record quoted Justice Colin Westman as saying that forcing children to participate in child pornography is “hugely destructive” to them. By viewing such images, Rempel was helping to create a market for such “filth,” the judge said.
The Criminal Code of Canada allows a maximum sentence of 10 years for making child pornography or possessing child pornography for the purpose of distribution, but the minimum is only one year. For possessing or accessing child pornography the maximum is five years, but the minimum is just 45 days.
We need longer sentences for these criminals to help decrease the demand for child pornography, and hopefully the market will fade out. Children who are victimized by child pornography may suffer post-traumatic symptoms such as intimacy, anxiety and physical issues later in life.
“It is quite a brutal and traumatic offence for one to experience,” said Staff Sgt. Tom Matthews of the Waterloo Regional Police’s major case branch.
These sentences are far too lenient compared to the lifetime of trauma for the victim. Each image is an act of abuse and sexual assault.
What if it was your child being raped and tortured? Would a 45-day sentence feel like justice served? How about one year?
Let’s get the sick individuals who make child pornography and the pedophiles who view it behind bars, not walking our streets. The government needs to impose a minimum 10-year sentence and a maximum of life in prison so that judges are forced to hand out punishments that actually have teeth.
If it was my child, I would want the accused locked away for a long time, and only then would justice be served.
Patrick Moules works at Toyota Motors Manufacturing in Cambridge.