[Editor’s note: Some readers may find the content of this article and video disturbing.]
NEW YORK — In a deeply emotional speech in New York, award-winning actress Blake Lively shone a spotlight on the crisis of child pornography, calling for greater awareness and resources to fight the epidemic.
“Sexual exploitation of children is something that isn’t happening rarely, it’s not happening worlds away,” she said. “It’s happening right here and right now.”
Lively was among Variety’s 2017 Power of Women: New York honorees.
She used her April 21 speech to draw attention to the Child Rescue Coalition, a group that helps identify IP addresses that are trading child pornography, and gives that information to law enforcement.
Police can then use that information to find the people who are engaged in trading child pornography, which is a felony.
Lively began her speech by saying that her deep concern for the topic of child pornography arose from the fact that she is a mother with two young children.
“I would do anything to protect them. I would literally die for them, without a moment’s thought,” she said.
From a mother’s perspective, she said that she was devastated upon realizing how common child pornography is, and that the children who are victims are often too young to speak up for themselves or report the crimes being committed against them.
What’s even more disturbing, she said, is that as viewers of child pornography become desensitized, they start looking for younger and younger children.
Just how young? Lively said that a law enforcement officer who has worked in child pornography prevention told her that he found pornographic videos of infants, with their umbilical cord still attached.
And the acts that these children are enduring are unspeakable, she said, including rape, torture, bondage and bestiality, among other acts.
“Anything you can think of, it’s out there and it’s being traded. And it’s 30-50 million files a day being traded, that we know of.”
Also alarming – the statistics indicate that the majority of child porn viewers are or will become abusers themselves.
“This is so prevalent, and I want you guys to know this, and I want it to resonate with you,” Lively said.
She stressed the importance of proactive groups like the Child Rescue Coalition, which in just three years has helped find 9,000 predators and has save 2,000 children.
Noting that her audience consisted of many wealthy, well-connected people, she asked for help in connecting Child Rescue Coalition to big companies for the purpose of forming partnerships, as well as for donations so that the group can continue offering its free services to law enforcement.