"My relative is in prison for child pornography offences."

I want to make one thing clear before I tell you this story. In my view, the downloading, possessing and sharing of child pornography is just as serious an offence as abusing a child yourself because of the child abuse that occurred in order to produce that material.

Over the past few months I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to explain this to my family who are determined to reason away the behaviour of a relative who was recently imprisoned for child pornography offences.

Earlier this week Glee star, Mark Salling, was arrested for child pornography charges after Los Angeles police from the internet Crimes Against Children Task Force unit served a search warrant. There are rumours that he is alleging his computer was hacked.

Just a few months ago Subway representative Jared Fogle pleaded guilty to charges of possessing child pornography and travelling across state lines to have sex with teenage girls. As part of a deal he will remain in prison for between five and twelve and a half years.

Both of these cases have hit a little too close to home for me thanks to the unforgivable crimes of a relative who was this year imprisoned for downloading, possessing and sharing child pornography. To say it was a massive shock is an understatement. When he went missing we thought he might be dead.

A simple Google search and we were faced with the horrible reality that this relative we thought we knew, whom we trusted, was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

He’s dead to me. It’s as simple as that. I have kids and I don’t care about the why, the how or any protestations of innocence or accidental downloads. To me it is black and white.

Not so for many members of our family who are shocked at the assumption that he is a pedophile.

In Australia, for the crime of downloading, possessing and sharing images of child pornography can see you returned home in three short years. Since when were the lives and well-being of innocent children worth so little?


Actress and activist Ashley Judd spoke powerfully against pedophiles. Article continues after this video.

I consider myself a good mother. I protect my children in every way I can, but I didn’t in this regard. I allowed a man who enjoyed child pornography, who viewed kids as sexual conquests, to enter my home and spend time with my children hundreds and hundreds of times.

I’m not at the stage where everyone in my life is suspect but I have been reminded that I’m not fully in control of the safety of my children.

Luckily for me and my children, luckily for the alleged victims of Mark Salling and luckily enough for the many victims of Jared Fogle, there are thousands of amazing law enforcement personnel who are working around the clock to keep our children safe too.

The author of this piece is known to Mamamia but has asked to remain anonymous.