Agents of the deep state are using their control of politicians and the media to bury the truth about pedophilia and sex trafficking. QAnon conspiracy theory or fact? You may be surprised to learn that it’s a bit of both.
Although the beliefs of QAnons may seem wild, there is a kernel of truth underlying them. The deep state? It’s not a brotherhood of Satanic pedophiles, but it does exist. Political scientists use this term to refer to governing institutions that persist across changes of elected leadership, and have the power to form and pursue their goals autonomously. Mike Lofgren, the former Republican U.S. Congressional aide who is often credited with popularizing the term, describes it as “an evolution, not a conspiracy,” writing:
Yes, there is another government concealed beneath the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, tethered to but only intermittently controlled by the visible state whose leaders we nominally choose.
So what is the connection between these deep state actors and child sexual abuse? The QAnon movement is correct in its intuition that a connection does exist, although it’s not quite as direct as a conspiracy to perpetrate and cover up Satanic ritual abuse by deep state actors themselves.
But yes, there is a coverup—a deliberate campaign by powerful actors to perpetuate false narratives about child sex trafficking and pedophilia to serve their own interests—and ironically, QAnon itself is a result of that coordinated deep state campaign. In a sense, that makes the conspiracy a bigger one than even QAnons recognise, since they themselves have been caught up in it.
Something else that QAnon inadvertently gets right is that these actions of deep state actors are indeed harming children. That’s because their false narratives about trafficking and pedophilia provide cover to actual child sexual abusers (who overwhelmingly aren’t Satanists, child abductors, or even pedophiles), and diverts scarce resources away from evidence-based prevention interventions, while hurting those who are innocent.
The truth about sex trafficking
QAnon’s focus on child sex trafficking can be traced to a November 2017 post on 4chan, in which Q asked “Who is the financial backer for human trafficking?” and “Who is the ‘broker’ for underage sex?”. QAnons subsequently constructed elaborate theories about celebrities such as Oprah and even the furniture company Wayfair being complicit in an international deep state conspiracy of child sex trafficking, and compiled “research” suggesting that President Trump had been responsible for a surge in trafficking arrests. Many QAnons feel that these theories were validated by the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein, for which they take credit.
But QAnon can’t take credit for instigating the use of misleading statistics about child abduction and trafficking, which have long been used to promote laws and programs that prioritize the interests of law enforcement organizations and their industry partners. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is a good example of the “deep state” in action, being notionally a private nonprofit (and therefore not publicly accountable through elections or Freedom of Information laws), yet also acting as an agent of the government. A NCMEC figure that QAnon sources commonly quote is that 800,000 children go missing each year. Less often acknowledged is that in over 99% of those cases the child returns safely, often within hours.
In a recent article in the Journal of Family Strengths, Aimee Wodda writes about the key role of NCMEC in perpetuating the myth of “stranger danger,” and about its racist overtones in which “innocence” is associated with whiteness. She writes:
Despite efforts to disprove the “stranger danger” myth, many Americans remain under the false impression that large numbers of children are abducted and murdered annually. Belief in this myth has led to the passage of legislation that not only fails to protect the most vulnerable populations of children from harm but also has created a milieu that leaves children at risk for criminalization and stigma.
The facts are that almost all missing children cases are runaways (especially from foster homes), homeless youth (disproportionately LGBTQ+ children who do not have caring homes to return to), or children abducted by a non-custodial parent in a custody dispute. The prevalence of cases of child abduction by a stranger is extremely rare—less than 0.1% of the total; yet whenever “missing children” statistics are reported in the media or by lawmakers, these outlying cases are presented as the norm.
Sex work abolitionist groups have also had a major role in spreading misinformation about child sex trafficking, which has in turn found its way into QAnon lore. Common claims include that 100,000 U.S. children are in the sex trade, that 300,000 are are at risk of trafficking, and that the average age of entry into sex work is 13: none of these “facts” is true, or even close. Even when accurate figures are drawn from government statistics, they are skewed by definition, because the law defines minors as being “trafficked” when they have sex for survival, even though a “pimp” is involved in less than 10% of these cases. Dr Marty Klein writes:
NCMEC is driving the issue of sex trafficking as hard as it can. By expanding the definition of “sex trafficking” to include every sex worker, porn actress, and minor person having sex with an adult, they have successfully convinced Americans that huge numbers of Americans are sex trafficked. It’s a lie.
Distorting the nature of the problem is harmful because it distorts our response to it. When we recognize that most “sex trafficked” children are not kidnapped into slavery, but rather turn to sex work out of necessity, we can address the underlying failures that forced them to make that choice—such as a lack of stable housing and employment, and the homophobia and transphobia of the foster care system.
Because lawmakers and the anti-trafficking industry aren’t willing to seriously address these problems, perpetuating a false narrative about commercial child sex trafficking serves to divert attention from them. Far from exposing deep state involvement in sex trafficking, QAnon’s incorporation of law enforcement propaganda into its mythos has only made it complicit in this conspiracy.
The truth about Satanic sexual abuse
QAnons believe that the conspiracy that they are uncovering is Satanic in nature, and that it involves not only the trafficking of infants but also their torture, murder, and the harvesting of their adrenalized blood. Although these claims may seem even more outlandish than those about sex trafficking, they too are directly derived from earlier falsehoods propagated by deep state actors, including some who are still active in child protection today.
Similar stories of Satanic sex abuse cults formed the basis of the last major “Satanic Panic” in the United States, which was most active from 1983 to 1992. In the most notorious incident, one parent’s accusation of abuse against staff members at the McMartin pre-school in Manhattan Beach, California snowballed into 321 allegations of ritualized sexual abuse against seven daycare staff members by 41 children. Coercive questioning by unqualified investigators led children to concoct weird tales of secret underground tunnels, ritual baby sacrifice, and being flushed down toilets into secret chambers. The bizarre charges were eventually dismissed, but not before giving rise to a rash of copycat allegations around the country, and creating a cottage industry of Satanic sex abuse “experts,” many of whom were federally funded.
The Satanic panic also made its way to the United Kingdom, where similar fairy tales were given credence by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), the national child safety group established by the British government. In a 1989 press release, the NSPCC claimed “Cases which have come to light involve young girls being raped and babies being induced five-and-a-half months into pregnancy then killed and eaten during satanic ceremonies.” Needless to say, all of these allegations were also later proved false, with the Guardian newspaper concluding, “It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this was the NSPCC’s latest publicity stunt to raise funds in a viciously competitive financial climate for all charities.”
Yet even today, government-linked child protection groups are still supporting “experts” who are not only associated with the Satanic panics of the past, but continue to promote such conspiracy theories today. Both the Canadian and Australian groups have retained the services of Satanic abuse conspiracy theorist Michael Salter as a consultant. To this very day, Salter unapologetically maintains his belief in organized Satanic ritual sexual abuse. Salter denies that it is possible for false memories of ritualized abuse to be implanted in children, while also contending that it is common for real traumatic memories to be repressed. Although more research is needed, his views deviate from the scientific mainstream on both points.
In 1994, the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect published research into over 12,000 accusations of group Satanic ritual sexual abuse. Although there were a handful of cases in which abusers used Satanic iconography to intimidate their victims, the report found not a single substantiated report of an organized Satanic child sexual abuse ring. That’s because the phenomenon simply doesn’t exist; it is a social construct that our society has developed because it would rather deal with a fantasy than with the chilling truth: that most of the people who sexually abuse children are ordinary people just like ourselves.
The truth about pedophilia
For QAnon, pedophilia is not a medical but a cultural phenomenon that flourishes among the world’s elites. Male and female pedophiles alike practice child sexual abuse and cannibalism within large, secretive rings comprised of members of powerful political, entertainment, banking, and media dynasties. In an echo of historical anti-semitic blood libel, Jewish families such as the Rothschilds and George Soros are painted as puppetmasters of these rings, along with the House of Saud, just to add a touch of Islamophobia into the mix.
Once again, although all of these beliefs are untrue, they stem from mainstream narratives that intelligence organizations and government-linked child safety groups have long put forward. In particular, the belief that pedophiles are sadistic abusers by nature is very deeply ingrained in law enforcement culture. The FBI claims “There are basically two types of pedophiles on the Internet—those who seek face-to-face meetings with children and those who are content to anonymously collect and trade child pornography images.”
The media has reinforced this belief by treating the term pedophile as a synonym for child abuser. When experts correct this usage by pointing out that some pedophiles don’t offend, and some offenders aren’t pedophiles, this is often wrongly interpreted as defending or excusing the behavior of pedophilic offenders, and the expert is stigmatized as a pedophile sympathizer or apologist. All of this stems from a misunderstanding of what pedophilia is, and how it relates to abuse.
The reality is that pedophilia—an unchosen, lifelong sexual attraction towards children—is just one of many risk factors that can contribute towards sexual offending against a child. QAnon is correct that it is more widespread than many people believe, at about 1-5% of the population. But they’re wrong to treat it as synonymous with child sexual abuse. In fact, this factor is only present in about a quarter of cases of abuse. In the rest of the cases, the perpetrator isn’t a pedophile—their primary sexual attraction is towards people in their own age range, and they were led to abuse a child for other reasons.
The problem with a narrative that conflates pedophilia with offending, or treats the unchosen attraction itself as “just as bad,” is that this is diametrically opposed to the task of abuse prevention. When a person’s identity is defined by their criminality, there is no pathway for them to escape or avoid it. Whereas in fact we know that people who have pedophilia can avoid offending, and that for every pedophile who receives the support that they need to abide by the law, a child can be saved.
Unfortunately, as we explain in this month’s newsletter, government-linked child safety groups and other deep state actors have essentially sided with QAnon on this issue, by refusing to support research into outlets that could make it easier for pedophiles to live with their unchosen attraction without harming a real child. The media plays along, by uncritically publishing “stranger danger” style scare pieces on the issue. Government consultants have also contributed to the hysteria, by wrongly misusing the term pedophilia to refer to consensual sexual activities between adults.
It is a natural instinct to demonize those who have sexual attractions towards children, or whose interests even suggest such a tendency. Almost everyone does this; QAnon merely takes it to an extreme. It’s more difficult to accept that such people, like the rest of us, are simply complicated and messy human beings. But the fact that they do have agency and aren’t condemned to offend is actually good news. All the evidence that we have suggests that even for the most world’s most despised community, prevention is possble.
Why the QAnon conspiracy is working and how to stop it
The electoral success that QAnon candidates have recently enjoyed has shocked some, yet their beliefs aren’t really so far away from those of the political mainstream. Anti-semitism aside, the false beliefs that child sexual abuse is largely the result of sex trafficking and pedophilia is widely accepted across the political spectrum—and only a few decades ago, the role of Satanism in abuse was equally well accepted. The most shocking thing about QAnon is how closely its false beliefs mirror those of our society at large.
The most shocking thing about QAnon is how closely its false beliefs mirror those of our society at large.
Why do false beliefs enjoy such currency? It may be because for most people, the less they have to think about this topic, the better. It can be comforting to believe conspiracy theories about child sexual abuse, because the more complex reality can be more difficult to wrap our minds around. The harsh facts are that a majority of child sexual abuse occurs in the home, and is predominantly perpetrated by those the child knows and trusts. In about a third of cases, the perpetrator is a child themselves.
What are we supposed to do with that information? How are politicians supposed to pass laws to stop it? Campaigning against the fictional threat of online traffickers and pedophiles is a much more palatable proposition for all concerned, especially when it allows lawmakers and their deep state allies to justify mass surveillance, control over the Internet, and the expansion of the carceral state.
The conspiracy is real, even if it doesn’t take the form that QAnon thinks it does. It’s not a conspiracy of the powerful to abuse children. It’s a conspiracy of the powerful to use mistruths about child abuse to consolidate and expand their power, no matter the cost to children and other innocents. But like all conspiracies that are built upon lies, we have the power to take it down by speaking the truth.
That’s what Prostasia Foundation was formed to do. We believe that there should be no shame or stigma in talking accurately about child sexual abuse—because only with those facts in hand do we have any chance of preventing abuse before it happens. You can help support this work by donating or becoming a member.