(WTVM) - Just a few days ago, we received a message on our WTVM News Leader 9 Facebook page.
It was a message sent around the country, not just to us, and it contained an illegal and disgusting video.
The accompanying small still frame of the video was disturbing enough to alert us that it was completely unacceptable.
That still frame showed a very young girl forced into a sex act.
Our news staff did not open the video, nor did we post or share the message itself, which urged Facebook users to make the video go viral to help capture the adult in the video. Instead, we called the police.
We understand how some people might think sharing such videos is a good idea, that they might just be the hero to help find and save the little girl.
But even if social media could help spread the word of the girl in danger, it really just compounds the problem of spreading child pornography, which is why the message was sent in the first place.
Never share or respond to such content. Police say delete it and alert law enforcement immediately.
In the case of the Facebook video, police in Alabama were already working the case, and arrests were made after just a few days.
But the damage these kinds of videos do to the victims lasts a lifetime.
Mental health experts we talked to locally say the victims of child sexual abuse are damaged in many different ways, mostly in how they interact with others or how they form relationships, some of which can perpetuate the violence.
Social media can be a wonderful thing. It connects people and creates a community. But the obvious downside of social media is the sneaky, creepy and sometimes downright criminal way it can be used to victimize and hurt people…and no one should ever participate in that.
General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to:
WTVM Editorial Committee
1909 Wynnton Road
Columbus, GA 31906