1) There is not a lot of evidence that most people who share this material are actually involved in harming children in any way.
18 years for trading child pornography?
I'll come out and say it, these laws are wrong. We have a higher incarceration rate than anyplace else in the world, rivaling Russia and China. Do you want to send those rates up even further?
I agree that child sexual exploitation is wrong. I think child pornography should be used as evidence for prosecuting the underlying crime. I can accept a reasonable criminal punishment for distributing child pornography, if that's the only way to send a message that our society strongly condemns child sexual exploitation. It seems that prosecuting people for having child pornography on their computers does more harm than good overall. I'm not convinced that prosecuting people at six degrees of separation from the underlying crime should be a crime itself. And I'm also not convinced that possessing child pornography created outside the U.S. should be a crime within the U.S. (Our bombs blow children to pieces in our many wars, which I think is a greater harm than their being sexually abused.) We don't prosecute web sites like bestgore.com that show beheadings and rapes.
But 18 years for trading child pornography is way out of bounds. That's the sentence we should give to somebody who originally abused the children to create the pornography, not someone at several steps removed who winds up with the images of it.
I think child pornography prosecutions are like traffic tickets. It's a lot easier for a cop to sit on his ass eating donuts in front of a computer monitor than it is to go out and prosecute actual sex crimes. And it would take a large shift in budget from uneducated cowboy cops to social workers, criminologists and social scientists who actually understand child sexual abuse and how to stop it.
Child abuse rises with income inequality
February 11, 2014
Summary: As the Great Recession deepened and income inequality became more pronounced, county-by-county rates of child maltreatment -- from sexual, physical and emotional abuse to traumatic brain injuries and death -- worsened, according to a nationwide study.
Research: Preventing sexual abusers of children from reoffending: systematic review of medical and psychological interventions
BMJ 2013; 347 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.... (Published 9 August 2013)
Florida spurns $50 million for child-abuse prevention