You may know Ashton Kutcher as being a Hollywood actor famous for his performances in hit television programme That ’70s Show and popular films No Strings Attached and The Butterfly Effect.
However, the past few years he has been dedicating his time to saving over 6,000 child abuse victims co-founding the nonprofit project Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children.
Establishing an international human rights organisation known as the DNA Foundation in 2009 with his then-wife Demi Moore, Kutcher wanted to address the worldwide issue of the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography.
Although the organisation changed its name to Thorn in 2012 following the couple’s separation, both Moore and Kutcher remain on the board of directors as co-founders.
Working with a group of partners which includes the likes of Google and Facebook, Thorn uses technology to aid the police in identifying abusers and eradicating child sex exploitation.
But as Kutcher revealed in November last year at the Dreamforce software conference in San Francisco, it isn’t just children his organisation is saving.
Over the last two years, we have made incredible strides in the fight to end the online exploitation of children — and none of it would be possible without your support. To date we have participated in potentially life-saving moments for at least 200 victims of sexual exploitation, and we won't stop there. Learn more about what's in store for our team in 2015: http://bit.ly/1ywMotZ
Posted by Thorn on Friday, 13 February 2015
As reported by INC, Kutcher said:
It is not the force for good or the force for evil. That’s you. You are the force for good or the force for evil.
There are millions of images that are transferred daily of child abuse material.
We’ve identified 6,000 children that are being abused. We’ve identified 12,000 adults that are also being abused, and 6,000 abusers.
The only question we have to ask ourselves is, ‘How good are we?’
I’ve articulated my purpose. The question is, what is yours?
The astonishing figures really do speak for themselves.
Kutcher explained how Thorn researches and funds various tools which can be used by law enforcement agencies and other organisations to tackle the huge problem.
For instance, in 2013 Thorn created a text messaging service alongside the Salesforce Foundation and Twilio which could be used by The National Human Trafficking Hotline.
The organisation also works on the collaborative ‘Project Vic’ which reduces the time it takes the police to analyse seized content.
— Safer Online by MSFT (@Safer_Online) April 5, 2018
Kutcher’s passion for the project was plain to see when the activist delivered an emotional speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in February 2017.
As reported by ABC News, speaking of his dedication to Thorn, Kutcher said:
As part of my anti-trafficking work, I’ve met victims in Russia, I’ve met victims in India, I’ve met victims that have been trafficked from Mexico, victims from New York and New Jersey and all across our country.
I’ve been on FBI raids where I’ve seen things that no person should ever see.
I’ve seen video content of a child that’s the same age as mine being raped by an American man that was a sex tourist in Cambodia.
And this child was so conditioned by her environment that she thought she was engaging in play.
She’d been abused for three years and they’d watched her for three years and they could not find the perpetrator, asking us for help.
We were the last line of defence. An actor and his foundation were the potential last line of defence.
That’s my day job and I’m sticking to it.
You can watch his powerful speech here:
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Kutcher’s hard work is clearly paying off and he has no plans to stop anytime soon. What a hero!
To find out more about Thorn, you can visit their website.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues, and want to speak to someone in confidence regarding the welfare of a child contact the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000. If you are a child seeking advice and support call Childline for free on 0800 1111.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.