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Kiddie Porn for Social Workers

February 7, 2007 permalink

Winnipeg social workers have been watching kiddie porn. When caught with their pants down, they were prevented from talking about it because of — what else? — confidentiality!

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Winnipeg Free Press, Thursday, February 8th, 2007

Child porn a training aid?

Police probe social worker complaint

By Mia Rabson

WINNIPEG police are investigating allegations that graphic child pornography was shown to social workers as part of a child-abuse training seminar in Winnipeg. The Integrated Child Exploitation Unit received a complaint Tuesday that photos or a video depicting a young child being sexually assaulted was included in training materials.

The training was for social workers assigned to a new centralized child-abuse unit created with the four provincial child welfare authorities -- southern and northern First Nations, M├ętis and the general authority.

A police spokesman said Wednesday the investigation was continuing.

The training was offered to social workers as part of the new All Nations Coordinated Response Network. It was organized by the Southern First Nations Child and Family Services Authority.

Southern CFS head Elsie Flette did not respond to a request for an interview Wednesday.

The seminar was held at the Viscount Gort Hotel. People attending the seminar who were approached at the hotel Wednesday refused to comment, saying they had signed a confidentiality agreement.

But one source told the paper some of the social workers at the workshop were so upset about the images they walked out of the seminar on Tuesday.

The consultant, whose presentation included the images, is a former police officer from Regina, with specialized training in crime scene investigation, sex crimes and child-abuse investigation.

Contacted by the Free Press this week, he refused to comment on the content of the materials and said nobody else should discuss it either because of the confidentiality clause in place for those who attended the seminar.

Roz Prober, president of the anti-child abuse advocacy group Beyond Borders, was shocked to hear the allegations.

"That's impossible," she said.

She said many police officers who worked for years in child-abuse units have moved into consulting and shouldn't take images from their police pedophile investigations to make money in their consulting business.

"They have to be exceptionally careful to make sure they are not crossing the line," said Prober.

Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh said he, too, is disturbed about the situation.

"I jumped out of my skin when I heard about this today," said Mackintosh. He learned about the matter from his staff, who had been contacted by the Free Press for comment.

He said he had not seen the offending images but said he was told there was graphic content involving a young child, that the child's face was obscured to prevent identification, and that the child and family had given permission for the material to be used for training purposes. And while police would not confirm this yesterday, Mackintosh also said he's been advised police do not believe the images are child pornography as defined by federal criminal statutes.

Mackintosh said he still has serious reservations about using the images.

"I find it profoundly disturbing that actual child victims are used in training materials," said Mackintosh.

He said he has directed his department to begin preparing provincial standards about what should and shouldn't be included in training courses about child sexual abuse.

"It's important we develop a protocol to guard against this in the future," said Mackintosh.

He said he will urge the federal government to do the same.

Prober said determining what legally constitutes child pornography is not easy, and social workers aren't in the business of making that determination.

They are there to protect kids and report possible abuse to police, who are trained to investigate and determine whether something is illegal. There is no reason for social workers to be shown graphic sex-abuse images, said Prober.

"If you're talking about illegal, sexual-abuse imagery, nobody has any right to see it except law-enforcement officers and people in the justice system such as lawyers defending clients charged with (child pornography)," said Prober.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca

Source: Winnipeg Free Press

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