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I can’t sleep. It’s 3:30 am and I need to rest. Today I have urgent care visits, a vet appointment and I need to pack my three young kids and myself for our impending month-long trip. Still, I can’t sleep.
I recently started a blog and have pages full of topics I’ve been hungry to write about, but those take a back seat during this midnight session; right now they don’t matter.
Within the last 48 hours I have learned:
– About a friend of a friend; a churchgoing, college-educated husband and father; a volunteer coach, upstanding citizen kind of guy, who was just imprisoned on charges of child pornography.
– Across the country, another friend informs me that within months, they’ve had two different adolescent boys from their neighborhood accused of molesting young kids from the neighborhood.
– And to round out my weekend I read this article about a sting operation entitled, “I’m a 37-Year-Old Mom & I Spent Seven Days Online as an 11-Year-Old Girl. Here’s What I Learned.” I’ll give you the PG-13 summary with one quote from the article:
“I pause to respond to @ XXXastrolifer. The conversation ends like most of them do (bold added, please take note) — in under five minutes, he sends Bailey (a fictitious Instagram account of an 11-year-old girl) a video to show himself masturbating.”
You see why I am awake. As awful and sickening as the above revelations were, none of them shocked me, not even close. What has happened to our world? How did we get here? And most importantly, what are we doing to make it right?
I use the word devour intentionally. To devour is not an act of passivity, it is a directed aggression, to eat up greedily, consume, prey upon, gut, and obliterate. This is what is happening to our children; to their innocence, their childhoods, their emotional and cognitive development, their ability to focus and sustain meaningful relationships, their safety at school, at a friend’s, at church, on dates, and while sitting in the comfort of their own homes.
They are being destroyed at the cost of our sex-obsessed society. And we let it happen.
Let me break down each of these situations. I will start with the least disturbing content and go from there. *(This information is uncomfortable, but I believe too important not to talk about.)*
The internet has become a way for predators to invade our homes, use and abuse our children, without having to set foot in the building. “Online sexual exploitation and abuse is when one person manipulates another person to get them to do something sexual — it’s an ongoing cycle of emotional and psychological abuse,” oftentimes with the intent to meet the child for sex. It includes grooming, sexting, extorting of sexual pictures, and live streaming sexual abuse. Online predators befriend children and teens through social media accounts, gaming accounts and more. They groom the children with compliments, conversations about common interests, and sometimes gifts.
How often is this happening and is it really a problem?
According to The National Center for Missing & Exploited, they received 10.2 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation online, in 2017 alone, and that number has been growing exponentially each year.What are these predators doing? They are either looking to get their kicks from the interaction, get the kid out of the house for sex or recruiting for traffickers.
And they move quickly. In the nightmare of an article I referred to above, 11-year-old Bailey posted one selfie to Instagram, and in under one minute – ONE MINUTE – she was contacted by two adult men. It only got worse from there.
As for the teenage boys molesting young kids; this is a growing phenomenon. One British newspaper reports that they’ve seen the number of child on child sexual assaults double in recent years. Here in the U.S., the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault says that “25 percent of all sex crimes are committed by minors” and it is estimated that a staggering 1/3 of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by another child, under the age of 18.
My heart goes out to these boys and to their parents, it really does. They have been raised in a society absolutely saturated with sex; it’s inescapable. They are taught self-curiosity not self-discipline and are told that sex, with whoever, however, how many ever, when and wherever, is oka, it’s cool, it’s encouraged, as long as it’s consensual.
They are left alone for hours on end with devices that act as portals into the darkest and most deprave corners of the human mind. The average age of first exposure to pornographic material is 8-11 years old. In a few moments, our sons (and daughters) can see more naked women, more sexually explicit and violent acts than our grandfathers could have even imagined, let alone viewed themselves over a lifetime.
And if you haven’t realized, this isn’t your grandfather’s porn; violence, chocking and rape are common. According to Fight The New Drug, some of the most popular searches on Pornhub include, “teen”, “mom” and “gang-bang”. In 2019 alone, this site received 42 billion views.
And that’s just one site’s statistics. Developing minds are not ready for this, no one is. There is evidence that exposure to pornography alters the brain, yet kids ingest it daily. Are we really surprised when they try to act out what they see?
And the kids they abuse, they are the true victims. They are the most innocent among us going about their childhood when someone they know (typically) takes advantage of their trust and changes their lives forever. In the words of one writer and activist, “Pornography is grooming boys to be predators, and girls to be victims.” And they are acting out these devilish fantasies at a record pace.
In the event that prime time detective shows have desensitized you, child pornography is defined as “images of real children engaging in sexually explicit conduct and computer-generated depictions indistinguishable from real children engaging in such acts.”
That’s doctored images of kids engaging in sex acts, or worse, footage of actual kids, actually being raped by actual adult monsters, sold and consumed for sport by other monsters.
How does someone go down this road where they seek out images of the most violent and horrific evils? The answer: PORNOGRAPHY.
If you are someone who thinks porn is harmless, natural and I’m just a prude who needs to lighten up, I ask you: First, remove your head from the sand. Second, keep reading. Third, please do your own research.
Someone who knows all too well the effects of porn and where it leads is Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad. If you have not heard about them, I beg you, take some time to learn about what they do. Tim has aided in the arrests of hundreds of child traffickers and interviewed dozens. In this interview, Tim discusses what happens when he asks these child rapists how they got to this point; the answer is always the same.
It started around 12 when they found a Playboy, usually by accident. Then the internet came, and the addiction grew. Study after study has shown that porn has the same effects on the brain as drugs, except you can’t detox your brain from the images you’ve seen. Fight The New Drug explains:
“…porn stimulates the same areas of the brain as addictive drugs, making the brain release the same chemicals. And just like drugs, porn triggers pathways in the brain that cause craving, leading users back for more and more extreme “hits” to get high.”
In his interviews, Tim hears about how the “regular” porn they were watching just wasn’t doing it anymore, they needed something more to get the stimulus. So they did internet searches for “17-year-old girls”…then “16-year-old girls”…and so on.
He uses this chilling analogy to describe what happens next:
“Adult pornography is marijuana, and child pornography is cocaine. When people move on to child pornography, eventually they want the real thing.”
The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children reviewed more than 26 million child pornography images and videos in 2015 alone. And since 2002 they’ve identified and located more than 10,500 victims depicted in these child sex abuse images.
This is what porn is fueling. Child rape is the byproduct, and kids are the casualties.
I understand this a lot of information to digest. I know the internet has a way of exasperating things, and that we, especially parents, easily enter the realm of paranoia. I realize our 24-hour news cycle paints the world as an ugly, awful place, that I just painted the world as an awful ugly place. And it just isn’t true.
We really are blessed with safety measures, medical treatments, technological advancements and opportunities unknown in the history of the world. There are compassionate and kind deeds happening all around us because of good, good people everywhere. I have traveled our nation coast to coast and have seen this for myself.
Nevertheless, these insidious evils are real. And they are growing at a rapid rate, faster than most of us understand. So what is the disconnect? Why is this happening? I believe this oft-repeated adage to be the answer:
Evil thrives when good men do nothing.
It’s true, we’re not doing enough. But we can change that. Might I suggest first, read the following three articles:
1) This is uncomfortable and a little graphic, but we need to be informed. The only reason I read this is because one friend on social media was brave enough to share it, though I wish everyone would read it: I’m a 37-Year-Old Mom & I Spent Seven Days Online as an 11-Year-Old Girl. Here’s What I Learned.
2) This piece is another shot to the gut. It’s about a mom who discovered that her six-year-old son was being molested by one of her female college-age babysitters. Female. College-age. The information will keep you awake tonight, but she gives great tips on how to teach our kids not to be victims:
3) This article is the most difficult: it’s graphic in its description of sex trafficking and what is happening to these kids. But he draws the connection between our sexually saturated culture, how porn further fuels consumer demand, and how children are falling prey. It’s important to understand:
Read these articles.
Digest their material.
Data-bank the statistics.
Discuss them with your spouse, your children, your friends, relatives and neighbors.
Disseminate; on social media, to your friends, mom groups, your child’s school.
This is not a third world problem, a politician problem, or a law enforcement problem. It’s not a school problem or even a parent problem, it’s a we problem; and we all must act.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
-Follow, support, donate, fund raise for Operation Underground Railroad and Agape International Missions.
-Sign this petition that you “support legislation in Congress to protect children from exposure to graphic sexual content by distributors of Internet pornography.”
-Write your city, county, and state representatives. I recently wrote my local officials about sex trafficking and was assured it’s not a problem. A few clicks on Google and I had articles showing otherwise.
–Thorn is another great organization started by Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, trying to educate and save children from being trafficked.
-There are books to read with your children about these topics. I currently use “God Made All of Me” and “Good Pictures Bad Pictures”.
–Bark is an award winning online safety monitor for all your devices. (They were the ones holding the sting operation in the above article I discussed.)
PARENTS, find out what your child’s school is teaching in SEX ED, then act:
-A Canadian company produced a YouTube series called “Sex-Ed for School” where a classroom full of 9-12 year old boys and girls discuss masturbation, jiggling genitals, playing with one’s boobs and a transgender man explains to the children,“…I really only talk[s] about kind of what’s in my pants if people are getting in there.” You can watch these films, in their full glory here.
-Find out where your money is going and what you are supporting with it:
–Netflix previously streamed an Argentinian film that includes a scene of a 9 year old girl masturbating.
-Netflix recently premiered a show about a 10 year old girl who follows a drag queen around the country, exposed to sexual situations, including being called a “top”. (Slang for a man who takes the active role in anal intercourse with another man)…..That’s a real life little girl, being called a sexually graphic slang, by an actual adult man, filmed for the entertainment of adults. Or is it for kids, I’m not sure which is worse.
-Several Hollywood directors, producers and actors have been accused and/or convicted of sexual assault, some with children. Why are we watching their work and giving them our money?
-Put your phone down and spend time with your kids. Kids need strong parental relationships to build their confidence, so when your 16 year old daughter gets a text from a boy from school, or your 11 year old is asked by an online sex predator to “send me a picture of in between your legs”, she’ll have the gumption to tell the pervert *#@! off.”
– Call on your elected officials and police departments to make the battle against sex trafficking a top priority. Ask them what you can do to help.
-Start a coalition in your town, lead when no one else will.
-Pray for the people tying to find the victims of trafficking; pray for the victims.
-Turn off the porn. If you think your occasional usage is harmless, please do some research, you can start here: https://fightthenewdrug.org/
-If you know your porn use is a problem but are having trouble kicking the addictive habit, there is help:
-Stop watching and supporting soft porn. When we view entertainment that is sexually suggestive or has sex scenes, nudity, strip club culture, S&M, and the likes, this is all part of what Tim Ballard calls, “the pornification of society”. And it has led us to this point.
After reading this you may be left with an array of emotions; shock, nausea, terror, heartbroken, angry, or a combination. I understand as I’ve felt it all myself, but I want to do more than just feel. Long have I sat comfortably in my own life, as this pernicious evil crept into my country. Too long have I turned a blind eye to our rotting culture and shrugged, telling myself, “it’s not really that bad.” Long have I looked the other way, with tear-filled eyes and a dropped jaw, from the sexual atrocities I read about and buried them in the back corners of my mind. And too long have I looked at the pervasive moral decay that surrounds me thinking, “I’m just one person, there’s nothing I can do.”
The time to act is now. Will you join me?