Siegen: “Revenge porn” – when children become the perpetrators

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When child pornography is circulated, many of the perpetrators are minors. Their motivation is usually different from that of adults.

In many cases, the perpetrators are children and young adults. But most of them don’t even realize that their behavior makes them the culprits. When it comes to the distribution and possession of child pornography, the Special Organizational Structure (BAO) “Tera” of the Siegen-Wittgenstein County Police Authority often has to deal with underage suspects. In the rarest cases, their actions are motivated by pedophilia, but they still constitute a criminal offence. This leads to appropriate police action.

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“Even in these cases, there’s no take or reservations: We have to step in,” says Mike Reichman, director of the BAO. He and his team are responsible for viewing and evaluating child pornography, as well as for initiating further investigative steps (we reported). “Our primary goal, of course, is to identify and stop transgender criminals precisely because they cause the most harm to children, directly or indirectly, physically and mentally,” says the chief inspector. But in practice, officers often have to deal with teenagers who, although they have committed a criminal offense, have a different motive. Of the more than 3,600 separate investigations initiated by BAO “Tera” since it began at the end of October 2021, more than two-thirds fall into this category.

Siegen: Child and Youth Pornography – Minors often send ‘revenge porn’

So-called revenge porn is typical in this field. The phenomenon of distributing intimate image material of ex-partners via chat groups or even posting it on websites affects all age groups and is – unless the people photographed – basically illegal; But if a 14-year-old boy distributes such recordings to his 13-year-old ex-girlfriend, it is also child pornography.



The problem threatens not only the sender, but also every recipient, since possession of such files is a criminal offense. The fact that children and young people send such material is mainly due to the fact that it is now possible to do this with little effort using smartphones. “Most of the time, it’s not about pedophile fantasies at all, but obviously just about approaching the topic of ‘sexuality,'” Mike Richman explains — after all, there is a difference between whether a 14-year-old has He finds a 13-year-old – attractive (sexual), or if he is 50. Either way, there are still issues and problems with law enforcement.

Child pornography in Siegen: There are also searches for minor offenders

Aside from the violation of personal rights, humiliation and public display of photographed persons: the offense of “possession and distribution of child pornography” alone can lead to a search of the parents’ home and confiscation of data carriers. Mick Reichman says that young people who are the focus of investigations are “sometimes very surprised when they are visited or called into the house.” “They often don’t realize what they were doing at first.”

Only then it becomes clear to many that it is neither a joke nor a somewhat harmless joke. Some don’t realize any guilt because the photos or videos were just sent to them. Most people do not know that inactivity in such a situation is a criminal offense. “If someone sends child pornography, the urgent recommendation applies: Report the crime to the police immediately,” confirms the BAO director.

SIGN: Child and youth pornography – police want to raise awareness in schools

In the context of prevention and victim protection, the police go to schools to educate children and young people and to raise awareness. However, experts also believe that parents have a responsibility to monitor the online activities of their children. “The educational mission doesn’t stop at the smartphone,” says police spokesman Stefan Bosch. Mick Richman takes a similar view from his everyday experience at work. “A lot of parents want to trust their children,” says the chief inspector. There is nothing to be said against that. But it is important to “assess the risks and look at the 13-year-old’s cell phone”.

It’s not just about whether there is any questionable or criminal content on the device, because one’s children can also “become victims of crime,” assures Mike Richman. In online chats and games, for example, there are also pedophiles (or other criminals) who verbally or visually harass or harass minors – this is not so rare. Children themselves may not treat this at home because they think they can handle it themselves. “When you are 13 or 14 years old, you may think you are already an adult and you can assess the risks. But you are still far from that.”

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BAO “Tera” uses a lot of energy in this specific area, “that’s the order of the day.” The commitment this work requires is so intense given the number of cases it is also taken seriously, Mick Reichman emphasizes — “because you can still influence young people and steer many things in a better direction.” But, he admits, “of course that also takes time.” Time that investigators would otherwise have had to hunt down adult pedophiles.


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