Daniela Ginta, The Mindful Writer

Freelance Writer and Photographer, Author of the Mindfulness Blog

Tag: online pornography

Birds And Bees – Are We Doing It Right?

I thought I’d write about our last hike in Peterson Creek; about how every season transforms the park and how you always have the feeling of being in the right place when you hike there.

Yet fuchsia-infused sunsets and promises of spring in city wilderness parks are somewhat clouded by a rude reality: hypersexualizing of children and the high price we all pay, children first of all.

From elementary school girls sporting borderline risqué attires to high school students exchanging inappropriate content over their personal electronic devices, to swift word exchanges during school hours that send kids flying to online search engines where Pandora’s X-rated box is waiting to be opened, the world of children resembles less and less what it used to look like a few years ago.

It is striking to compare today’s faces to the ones that smile from all the old class photos that hang in the hallways of my sons’ school. Clothing spelled ‘children’ and their smiles were innocent. So what, you’ll say, children of today are innocent too.

True, many are, but there’s an early expiration date on that innocence. Exposure to inappropriateness happens early and surreptitiously. If you doubt this, ask your children. And hope they’ll have the courage to tell, because there’s lots to tell and it’s not pretty.

This is by no means a new topic: The age of information forces us to revisit it often as it dumps too much on our children’s heads, too soon. Parents, as per our parenting job description, have to somehow catch it all before the worst happens.

A month ago or so a few Kamloops high school students have been charged with possession of child pornography. The same happened on Vancouver Island, and in New Brunswick and in Quebec. It happens in the US, Australia and in Europe too.

Children know it’s wrong (at least some of them realize it) and they know they shouldn’t, but temptation and peer pressure rocks their budding foundations and they do it anyway hoping they won’t get caught.

But they do, and punishment ensues. Lessons to learn? Hardly so. It looks more like a case of treating the symptoms without addressing the cause.

Children of all ages are being introduced to the world of photographs early on by the adults around them just until they learn to do ‘selfies.’

There is an emphasis on sex wherever you turn your head, because, we all know, sex sells.

That the internet world abounds with sexual content is no longer news. Adults defend their right to access it as they please and to that we say ‘to each their own.’ What about children though?

According to the latest estimates, the number of pornographic websites, paid and free access, is approximately 25 million and growing. What is new though is how children can access these websites and how many of them display increasingly violent content that would never fit into a normal loving relationship.

It’s controversial, but it cannot be brushed aside either.

Children lose their innocence too soon and there’s nothing right about that. Dismissing the obvious by saying ‘It’s the 21st century, about time we emerge from the dark ages of taboos,’ makes adults part of the problem when children are charged with possession or distribution of child pornography.

If the revealing photo of 13-year-old is found in possession of a 13-year-old, logic dictates that we are looking at a case of distribution of child pornography by children.
What’s fair then?

Parental controls will never keep children fully protected. There is no school body or app or program able to keep children safe if the parents are not stepping up to the plate to talk about it.

That’s right. An honest, first-for-everyone kind of talk that brings awareness and lets children know they are not alone in facing a monster that is as tempting as it is scary. I don’t mean healthy sexuality, but its crooked version that sees children punished later on for something that could’ve been avoided.

Kind of like feeding children too much carrot juice and punishing them for turning orange.

We have to face a blatant truth: we are perhaps the first generation that will not talk just about birds and bees but about how bad it can be when they are out of control. Yes, we have to include the ‘porn talk,’ because porn is, you should know, something many children are exposed to at the ages of 10 or 11.

The idea that internet providers could install filters to prevent children’s access to online pornography was met with disgruntlement by most adults. What about people’s freedom to choose? There’s truth there.

But somewhere in between us adults having the freedom to exercise our adult choices as we please, a sexually-imbued free-for-all internet content and rushed existences that allow for little or any breaks to keep track of things, there are gaps wide enough to swallow our children whole and leave us nothing but the regret that we should’ve done more when we had a chance.

Now is the chance. Today.

The Case Of Missing Innocence

It happened again. The ill combination of tech devices, hormones and bad judgment, plus a lack of boundaries has a handful of students from South Kamloops Secondary School (SKSS) in Kamloops in a painful knot.

Will there be charges of child pornography laid in the latest case of inappropriate content swapping among high school students? After all, an incident in Victoria ended up with a girl being charged.

wrote before about children nowadays having unrestricted access to online pornography. And how perhaps we should heed the British PM’s proposition that internet providers install filters to prevent access. I also said that my sons are still so young that I should not be personally concerned just yet, but when the time comes I will not shy from having ‘the talk.’

The reactions then and since went from ‘It’s OK to lighten up about the issue, it is the 21st century after all…’ to ‘Yes, this is a scary reality.’ Parents of children my oldest son’s age tell me their children are far from even knowing about online pornography let alone searching for it, yet my son hints to an alternate truth. He knows because he’s in the middle of it.

Children nowadays know more than we think they do, and they are, like all children, curious. Teens and preteens get to play grown-ups too soon and too aggressively; they act like adults and make many adults cringe. Then again, truth be told, many people who have subscribed to the new best-seller Fifty Shades of Gray  believe that being liberated is a desirable attitude in today’s world. Note: I will discuss the questionable nature of such claims spurred by the book in a later post.

Tempted to ask why children hurry and open the ill Pandora’s box all too soon? Because it’s there and it’s tempting and because even if you know you’re not supposed to, peer pressure is a huge factor in tweaking will power to the dark side…

In other words, you don’t want to be the one that is not up to speed when someone asks the question… So you go and look. And learn, wrong things included, and thus the dark secrets steal innocence and widen the gap between children and adults.

So they know porn is there, they know how to access it and they are also told through sexual education sessions that sexual explorations are OK as long as precautions are taken. And explore they do, with disastrous consequences.

From accessing online pornography which paints a skewed image of real sex, to snapping and exchanging indecent photos and thus hurting fellow classmates and friends, breeding a new form of bullying and pushing some towards terrible definitive decisions, to playing ‘relationship’ before they know what a relationship entails, children are hit by the sexual liberation tsunami harder than we can imagine and the consequences are worse that we might ever hope to find solutions to.

So we know all of that. We know what they can do and we’re getting to know what’s out there in cyber space. Lots of unfiltered information that can hurt.

Though sad, stunning stories of teenage suicide caused by sexual harassment and cyber bullying, as well as of stories of indecent photo swapping are darkening the horizon, I believe there is still time to act. Not by leaving it to others to address it as they see fit, but by finding the courage to look our children in the eye and call it as it is.

Knowing the truth provides solid ground to stand on and look for solutions. Or to start brainstorming at least.

***

Fact: Children have tech devices that allows them to access a flurry of information online, pornography included.

Possible solution: If needed for communication purposes (as if) perhaps opting for the basic tech device rather than the latest model. With explanations as to why that is. Though they may pout, all children appreciate being taken care of and feel safe when they know boundaries are in place.

Fact: The said tech devices nowadays have cameras. Taking inappropriate photos just for fun is a mistake but it is not a deadly mistake. Or is it?

Solution: The explanation that any kind of indecent photo of anyone under the age of 16 that is sent, received or traded means possession and/or trafficking of child pornography and any association with such photos could lead to criminal charges. Which makes possession or swapping of inappropriate photos a deadly mistake.

***

A certain expected disconnect between parents and their growing children has always been there, but we’re witnessing an all-new, all-engulfing generational gap nowadays. It’s a social experiment with no precedent and while we often hear of parents and children bonding over electronic games played on the family console, many of those kids will be sucked into the dark reality of playing naughty.

To that, no amount of talks at school or media awareness campaigns will help if the parents do not step up to the new, granted, overfull plate and have ‘the talk(s).’

Innocence lost is a crushingly sad reality. It is what my son wonders about. If we adults let our children be robbed of it so easily, how can they be expected to hold onto it? Most children are too young to even know that such things exist, let alone understand the wrongness of the crime once they are exposed to it.

Not taking the proverbial bull by the horns in this situation is akin to leaving our children in harm’s way hoping they will not be harmed simply because we’ve been imbued with too many happy ending scenarios along the way.

Life is real and we cannot eschew ourselves from any reality that comes our way. ‘Head in the sand’ leaves the rest exposed, and that includes the children we cradle so dearly to our hearts. No ‘I’m sorry’ can ever make up for it. Because there is no going back.

Which is why the time to act is now and not a second later.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén

%d bloggers like this: