After several sincere but ultimately failed attempts to pass legislation to simplify and streamline child pornography victim restitution in the federal courts, the Senate has once again demonstrated its commitment to children by ratifying the AVAA late last night by unanimous consent. The United States Senate came together in a bi-partisan coalition of 27 cosponsors, 12 Democrats and 15 Republicans, to do the right thing far from the spotlight, rhetoric, or Twitter feeds.
The real challenge remains the House of Representatives which has steadfastly blocked reform for the past four years.
Now is the time for advocates, victims, and their supporters, to encourage the House to quickly consider and pass Senate Bill 2152. Child pornography restitution reform is long overdue. Let's make 2018 the year when victims of childhood sexual abuse and online exploitation get the help and support they need. The Senate's right, left, and everyone in between has spoken decisively. Now it's up to the House to join them.
Child pornography leaves in its wake a trail of tragedy and shattered life. While public policy may never eradicate this evil altogether, it can at least alleviate the suffering of its victims. That’s exactly what Senator Hatch has sought to do with a groundbreaking new proposal that will provide justice for victims of child pornography.
In an effort to update our laws for the digital age, Senator Hatch has introduced the Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act, named after the victims of some of the most widely circulated child pornography series in the world. “Amy” brought her case to the Supreme Court and “Andy,” who is aided by the tireless advocates at the Utah Crime Victims Legal Clinic, is a Utah resident.
Under this legislation-which already has nearly two dozen bipartisan co-sponsors-victims will be able to choose which form of assistance will help them most. For those seeking restitution from defendants, this bill revises the criteria and options for judges to calculate losses and impose restitution. Victims may, as an alternative, apply for a one-time payment from the existing Crime Victims Fund maintained by the Department of Justice.
This editorial appeared in the Provo, Utah Daily Herald. It was co-authored by Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), the senior member and a former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and David Corwin, M.D., Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine and President-Elect of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.
Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee held an Executive Business Meeting to consider the AVAA. The bill was presented to the Committee and in keeping with normal Committee practice, held over for a second reading at the next executive business meeting which could occur as early as next week.
Today, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)—the senior member and former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee—alongside Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA), introduced the bipartisan Amy, Vicky, and Andy Child Pornography Victim Assistance Act of 2017 S. 2152, named for the victims in some of the world’s most widely circulated child pornography series.
This crucial legislation improves the process for seeking restitution from child pornography defendants. The bill also offers victims a monetary assistance alternative from the Crime Victim Fund, requires the appointment of a guardian to act on behalf of the victim in court, and allows victims access to the defendants’ images depicting them.
The American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (APSAC) is the leading national organization supporting professionals who serve children and families affected by child maltreatment and violence, including child sex abuse and child pornography. As a multidisciplinary group of professionals, APSAC achieves its mission in a number of ways, most notably through expert training and educational activities, policy leadership and collaboration, and consultation that emphasizes theoretically sound, evidence-based principles. With more than 26 years of existence and a central role in the development of professional guidelines addressing child abuse and neglect, APSAC is well-qualified to advance understanding on the current nature of child pornography and the harm it causes its victims.
On October 18, 2013, in conjunction with its amicus brief in Paroline v. Amy Unknown, APSAC issued this statement on the harm to child pornography victims with the goal of assisting the Supreme Court, professionals, policymakers, and the public about most recent science documenting the nature and harm done to victims by the market in child pornography and all of its participants.
Even as efforts to fight online child sex abuse material and compensate victims remains stalled in the United States House of Representatives, efforts abroad continue unabated.
Last week, the Canadian Centre for Child Protection introduced a new tool to combat the growing proliferation of child sexual abuse material on the Internet. Dubbed ‘Project Arachnid,' this automated crawler will help reduce the online availability of child sexual abuse material and break the cycle of abuse.
The need for Project Arachnid is based on Cybertip.ca witnessing the growing proliferation of child sexual abuse material, and was further validated by the Canadian Centre’s International Survivors’ Survey. This survey was developed to better understand the unique challenges faced by survivors whose abuse as a child was recorded and, in many instances, distributed online. To date, 128 survivors from around the world have contributed valuable information about their experiences.