We all know that any kind of child abuse is wrong. And child sexual abuse in particular is horrendously evil. The trading of child porn over the internet is at epidemic proportions and all we can do is hope that law enforcement catch as many of these predators as possible, and place them behind bars permanently. The sad aspect of this is that even when these predators are caught, the children are often never found - and they drift away in cyber space, never to be seen again. It's hard to even fathom, especially for a parent.
But not every photo of a near naked child is harmful. Bath time photos are in almost every family's photo album. Children splashing in water, hair turned into bubble-filled mohawks and grinning from ear to ear. Pictures of naked babies, rolling on their blankets and grabbing their toes abound. Every parent knows how much babies love to be naked. It's freeing for them, it's familiar to them and there are practical reasons, from allowing a diaper-rashed bottom to heal, to encouraging potty training.
Child porn has been caught many times by photo developing stores and they must be commended for turning them in. But it's crucial that employees are able to intelligently discriminate between suspect pictures and innocent family bath-time photos.
An Arizona couple who took bath photos of their children had them removed and forced into foster care for a month, as they were left to defend themselves and refute accusations that they were child pornographers. The parents feel that the fact that their kids were removed from the family and placed in foster care - when the photographic "evidence" showed nothing more than innocent photos - could psychologically damage their kids for years to come.
The WalMart employees who turned over the photos felt that they were pornographic. So did some in law enforcement. Everyone understands that photo development stores need to keep an eye on what they're developing and they have both a legal and moral obligation to turn in photos that are suspicious, but the couples attorneys maintain that this case was dealt with outrageously . These were pictures of little kids, mostly wrapped in towels, running around after their bath.
Situations like this strike fear into the hearts of parents. Nowhere in the photos was there even a modicum of suspicious activity - something a judge agreed with before releasing the children back into the custody of their equally traumatized mother and father. They are now suing.
Reaction to this story has been strong - and loud. Parents wonder what is next? Photos developed of kids watching Saturday morning cartoons in bed with their parents and a subsequent arrest of the parents, for "sleeping" with their kids? Due diligence is one thing but the parents - and their many supporters - say this was vindictive and damaging to every member of the family, and a complete abuse of police power. What could have been resolved in a day, took an entire month.
Anyone who sees suspicious photos or videos of children needs to contact the police immediately. For the vast majority parents who live for, and would die for their children - sticking to digital cards and develop their own photos is a better bet. Advocates for these parents say that this was not a misunderstanding, or suspicious pictures handed over with the best interests of the children in mind. Rather, it was authority run amok, with a very traumatized family left in it's wake.
Are you a parent with bath time photos of your children? Would you now be nervous to have them developed outside your home?
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