RECOMMENDATION 80

Part: 
Three
Chapter: 
3

Social mental health, and medical services should be provided for child pornography victims.

In many cases, the official intervention into child pornography cases involves only legal and prosecutorial action against the perpetrator. Often, the identities of children appearing in pornographic photographs seized from the homes of pedophile offenders or child pornographers are never established. If the child pornographer is not a member of the family, the case will not be referred to a child welfare agency for protective social services. Child victims of pornography are frequently used as witnesses for the prosecution and subsequently abandoned by the social, medical and mental health services systems.

Child victims of pornography and their families should receive a full range of supportive services including competent medical evaluations and treatment, access to family therapy and peer support groups, legal counsel and guardians ad litem.

Because child pornography and child sexual abuse are so intrinsically related, certain treatment models for victims of child sexual abuse can be applied to victims of child pornography. Children who are involved in treatment for child sexual abuse often reveal that pornography was used by the perpetrator as a threat to prevent the child from disclosing the sexual relationship.

Model child sexual abuse crisis centers have been developed to integrate social, medical and mental health services for suspected child sexual abuse victims. Child sexual abuse centers can provide medical assessment, psychological, psychosocial evaluation and crisis intervention services to suspected victims of child sexual abuse and their families.[679] Evaluation teams may consist of a physician, nurse practitioner, psychologist, social worker, and children's services worker. The multidisciplinary team approach can be used in the initial evaluation activities of the center and in the development of follow-up plans, including referrals for law enforcement and children's protective services, court action, and psychological treatment.

In addition, many runaway and homeless children are enticed into pornography or prostitution, or resort to theft in order to survive.[680] Early intervention into their lives can provide a viable deterrent against other crimes. Without intervention, these children may go on to more serious crimes when they are no longer desirable to pimps and pornographers.[681]

Notes

  1. Model Crisis Center Programs include the San Diego Center for Child Protection and the Los Angeles Child Sexual Abuse Family Crisis Center.

    Los Angeles County also completed a study on runaway and homeless youths. Under the auspices of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors with participation of the Department of Children's Services, the Dependency Courts, law enforcement, and in conjunction with the private sector, a project has been proposed consisting of the following components designed to assist these children to develop meaningful lives:

    • Identification of child
    • Establishment of referral resource network
    • Intake of child into system, including emergency shelter placement
    • Expedited court handling
    • Development of more suitable placement alternatives, treatment and handling resources, including a new shelter.
  2. See, The discussion of Victimization.
  3. "Runaway and homeless youth come from highly disorganized families, and, in many cases, their behavior may be the result of past physical or sexual abuse. Fifty percent of the young people have not voluntarily left home but have been pushed out or encouraged to leave by parents. Fewer than half of these youngsters have a realistic prospect of ever returning to their families. Out on the street, these children are exploited by pimps, drug pushers and peddlers of pornography. Their health and emotional problems are severe. Runaways and homeless youth are unable to care for themselves adequately. Published research indicates that they exhibit stress and other psychological difficulties in excess of those experienced by non-runaways.

    Although child abuse is generally perceived as a problem of early childhood, this study has uncovered another largely unrecognized abused population-adolescents. They need the community's care and concern just as much as their younger counterparts.

    The community survey of experts reveals the lack of appropriate community resources. Agency staff themselves estimate that they are not coping with the situation adequately. The resource deficit is critically hindering a reasonable level of service provision. What scarce resources are available are not being utilized effectively because there is little rational planning, inadequate communication among agencies, and minimal coordination of effort. Each agency and service goes its own way, doing its best, but without reference to others serving the same population. The public and private sectors appear to operate as two separate subsytems, each in its own encapsulated orbit, with only sporadic interaction.

    Our studies demonstrate that the runaway and homeless population is made up of different subpopulations with different characteristics, needs and service requirements. For example, there are multiple reasons for self-initiated breaking away from home, and also a variety of forces within the family that push the young person out involuntarily and prematurely. Planning for runaway and homeless youth requires differential diagnosis and specifically targeted patterns of service delivery. The analysis of existing research on program evaluation suggests that there are no panaceas, no universally recognized and accepted program designs to solve the problem, although there are useful lessons and helpful ideas to be gleaned from studying the experiences of other communities across the country. Program development on the local level needs to be carefully coordinated, and adequately researched.

    The family plays a central, but ambiguous role, according to our studies. Extant research indicates that family intervention is a highly effective strategy for many young people, and indeed might be the strategy of first choice in most situations. When reconciliation is possible, it should be given priority. However, research also shows that many families are so destructive, abusive and rejecting that children cannot wisely be returned to them. Almost fifty percent of the runaways need other options, including alternative residential care (such as group homes and foster care) for some, transitional services for those ready for emancipation, and basic survival services to nomadic youngsters committed to life in the streets.

    This study has uncovered the intensive nature of this problem. We have not been able to ascertain the extensive nature of the problem, i.e., its numerical dimensions. The panel of approximation of the number of runaway and homeless youth in Los Angeles county. Knowing the dimension of the problem is essential to designing a solution. When society acknowledges a problem and determines to acquire accurate statistics, the numbers become available. This is the time to learn how many troubled youth must be provided for, and to undertake pilot and demonstration projects designed to develop effective programmatic responses." J. Rothman & T. David, Status Offenders in Los Angeles County, Focus on Runaway and Homeless Youth: A Study and Policy Recommendations, 3-4 (unpublished study).