Photos of Abused Kids End Up on Web

By The Associated Press

PARIS (AP) -- The number of sexually abused children has risen to emergency levels, and photos of them are finding their way increasingly on to computer screens, experts said Monday at a U.N. conference on pedophilia and the Internet.

Charles Edward Roberts d/o/b 4-14-1934 kidnapped Shamema Honzagool Sloan, age 8

“The development of pedophilia on the Internet constitutes a `cybercrime,''' said Federico Mayor, director general of the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Speaking to 300 experts from 40 countries, Mayor called for a "global electronic watchdog network'' to combat on-line pedophilia and child prostitution.

Experts say there is insufficient data on the number of abused children, especially since the definition of such abuse varies widely from country to country.

"We estimate that the number is at an emergency level -- especially since there's a tragic lack of protection available to children at risk,” said Kimberly Svevo, executive director of the Chicago-based International Society for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect.
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Svevo cited poverty, war, natural disasters and soaring populations among the forces making children vulnerable to prostitution and sexual slavery in developing nations.

Earlier Monday, the International Labor Office outlined plans for an accord to help keep child pornography and other forms of child sexual abuse off the Internet.

ILO director general Michel Hansenne told the two-day conference that the measures, expected to be passed at the agency's annual meeting in June, would ban the sale and trafficking of children over the Internet, as well as the use of children for on-line prostitution or production of pornographic material.

INTERPOL's Agnes Fournier-Saint Maur, who heads the international police organization's special commission on crimes against minors, said it was virtually impossible to determine the number of Web sites providing materials for adults who prey on children, or to know how many pedophiles access the Internet.

But she said studies in the United States in 1995 documented one million on-line pornographic images involving children.

“Some of the sites received several thousand hits daily,” she said, adding that 500,000 such images were seized in 1998.

With today's sophisticated technology, pedophiles can even ask for specific live sex scenes, including rape and torture, from the privacy of their homes, she said.

Daniel Kahn, a French expert on Internet law, said many Web sites provide materials that are legal in the countries where they are created -- places that also often lack laws protecting children against kidnapping for sexual exploitation.

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