Articles and Stories
The following articles and stories are for your information only. They are in no-way the thoughts and feelings of the owner or its partners of this website. We have no opinion, do not take a stand either way and are completely neutral when it comes to any articles or stories posted on this website. This also includes any blog posts. That being said, any and all articles, stories and/or blog posts submitted to this website will remain anonymous and uncensored with the exception to profanity. Profanity will not be tolerated.
Articles and Stories may be submitted to our email address on our "Contact Us" page.
Ottawa to tighten up national sex offender registry, DNA database
Monday, June 1, 2009 | 3:23 PM ET
Jim Stephenson, looks on as
Minister of Public Safety Peter Van Loan makes an announcement about changes to
sex offender legislation on Parliament Hill in Ottawa Monday. Stephenson's 11-year-old son
was abducted and murdered in 1988. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)
Sweeping changes to the national sex offender registry and the national DNA
database are intended to make them more effective tools for police in tracking
and preventing sex crimes, Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan said Monday.
"The government is delivering another aspect of our commitment to get
tough on crime and protect the safety and security of our communities,"
Van Loan told reporters at a press conference in Ottawa.
"Police and victims groups have requested these changes for some time
and our government is delivering on them."
Those advocacy and law enforcement groups had argued the registry, in place
since 2004, hasn't been responsible for solving a single sex crime.
Among the proposed changes:
- All sex offenders will
automatically be added to the registry upon conviction. Currently such
offenders are included only after a formal request is made by the Crown
and a judge orders it — which happens 58 per cent of the time.
- Convicted sex offenders
will also automatically be required to provide a DNA sample to be entered
into the national database.
- Police will have access to
the sex offender registry to prevent sex crimes. "If police see an
individual behaving suspiciously near a school ground, for example, they
will be able to request information from the database," said Van
Loan. "They will be able to obtain additional information to assist
them in their prevention work." Currently police can use the sex
registry to investigate a crime only after it has happened.
- Those who are convicted and
jailed for sex crimes in another country and are returned to Canada to
serve the remainder of their sentence will now be registered with the
- Canadians convicted abroad
of sex crimes and returning to Canada at the end of sentence
must report their conviction to police within seven days of arriving back
in the country or face criminal prosecution. "No longer will Canada be
a safe haven from which travelling sex offenders can operate safely,"
said Van Loan.
- Sex offenders must report
the name of their employer, the type of employment as well as any
volunteer organizations they are associated with. They will also be
required to provide notice in advance of absences from their residence of
seven days or more.
- Police will be allowed to
notify other Canadian and foreign law enforcement jurisdictions when
registered sex offenders are travelling to another area.
- Federal and provincial
correctional services will be allowed to notify registry officials if a
registered sex offender is either released into the community or
re-admitted to custody.
Among those welcoming the changes was Deputy Chief Murray Stooke of the Calgary police. "We
know from the patterns of offending that sex offenders are likely to have
offended more than once. And in a case that we now have a conviction on somebody,
in the past we weren't getting their DNA to compare against historical
offences, and so I think that's a very positive aspect of this bill," he
The proposed changes were to be tabled in the House of Commons Monday,
though it was unclear when they would take effect.
The following are forum posts regarding the above article:
- I think
the point is that "the registry, in place since 2004, hasn't been
responsible for solving a single sex crime" as only 10% of offences
EVER get reported. Thus, if they are not reported, or go unreported the
offender will NOT go on the registry, never be brought to justice, and
most likely re-offend. Not to mention the 10% that are reported are
typically acts committed by strangers to the victims; thus, this new 'law'
will only be aiding that 10%, not the other 86% plus attacks typically
(70% plus) committed by "intimates, other relatives, friends or
acquaintances" that go unreported. As some have said on this forum, this will not be money
well spent. Other issues must be addressed and thus, new solutions be
made. For example, current police responses to crisis phone calls and
victim reports calls should be handled differently, in terms of
seriousness. Not to mention a thorough look as to where the nature of this
violence stems from, not constantly mending and fixing the result, but
rather discovering its origin and working on its prevention. For example,
since 98% of sex offenders are male, and 82% of survivors are women and
girls, perhaps a serious look at why men are prime offenders and a
movement towards the end to male violence against women and children is
necessary. I believe the work of youth and women crisis workers and
shelters workers is of great importance, however, it is only through a
thorough examining and reflection of our persons and culture will we be
able to cut to the root of the violence once and for all.
- Are you sure you want to play follow the
leader on this issue? I should rephrase that. It has been a very long time
since the U.S.
has behaved like any kind of leader. Our own Government statistics prove
that 95% of all new sex crimes will be committed by someone not on any
registry yes people are lulled into this false sense of security. What was wrong with the old system where a Judge decided
who was dangerous and who was not? Is that not their job? Canada
is on its way down the slippery slope now as once this law hits the books
who will dare stand against it in the name of sanity later. Say one word and you will lose the next election after
being branded "pro sex offender". Again, not a single case of abuse has ever been prevented
due to this registry. Thousands of children and young people have been
hurt because of it. Do a Google search on the "Julia Tuttle
Causeway" and you can see for yourself the results these laws have
had. Does Canada
want its own leper colony? This started in my country with the best of intentions
during the sex hysteria of the 1980's. The Mcmartin pre-school trials that
later ended with the cases being dropped. The child molestation witch
hunts in Fresno California; then there was the Wetterling
case where a child was abducted. Patty Wetterling pushed for legislation
that would allow law enforcement to create very similar to what Canada has
just approved. Then the Kanka case in New Jersey where a little girl was
raped and killed by a repeat sex offender spurred calls for a public
registry. Things have now snowballed to the point where Patty
Wetterling has now come out against these laws. The statistics and evidence are in that these laws do
absolutely nothing to prevent further crimes.
- What will
the government start to do about women that make false rape allegations? That’s
the biggest form of misandry a woman can commit! False rape accusers should also be on a registry so we
can protect innocent men. All a woman has to do is say 3 words; "HE RAPED
ME" and a man's life is over. Maybe we need to ask ourselves how we can prove sex was
consentual. With all these false rape allegations these days I believe the
only way a man can prove it was consentual is by video recording the
session. the government should charge woman who make up false rape stories
and destroy innocent men, and also tell us how we can prove consent
without having to blow $200,000 on a lawyer, being in custody till trial,
losing our jobs and family.
- I hear a
lot of stories about how Canadians are better educated then we in the United States
and I agreed until I read this story. The SO Registry in my country has
yet to prevent a single case of abuse despite spending billions of dollars
and the inclusion of over 650,000 people on a public registry. It seems the Canadian politicians have looked South with
envy over the years that their American counterpart's have used this issue
as a political goldmine. I would not want anyone to take my word for it, do your
own research. Please Google rickyslife.com, SOSEN, Sex offender Issues,
Human Rights Watch "no easy answers", sexting, Romeo and Juliet
laws, or just look up your own Canadian studies on sex offenders. Politicians love to scare people into a frenzy and pretend
that "they" can protect Canadian children from abuse to appear
"tough on crime" and get votes. Once this mass hysteria starts
it is awfully hard to stop any law however ridiculous just sails right
threw as no one wants to appear "soft" on sex crimes. The American system has been in place for 15 years and
has not prevented a single case of abuse. It cost's BILLIONS of dollars a
year and even our congress is starting to take another look at these laws
as they held hearings in March on the Adam Walsh act. There are 10 y.o. children in America that will spend the
rest of their lives on this registry. People convicted of public streaking
or urination have ended up on this registry. Teens with a 2-3 year age difference are branded as
lifetime sex offenders in America.
- Are you
sure you want to play follow the leader on this issue? I have a few
concerns with this legislation. Will "offenders" later found to
be innocent be removed from the list? Will teens "sexting" or
having sex with each other be placed on the list? In England if
you get pulled over for speeding or jaywalking the police are allowed to
take a DNA sample and keep it indefinitely. This is the beginning of a
slippery slope. I know of an individual who was 18 and had sex with a 15
year old. The 15 year old told her parents about the incident due to the
fact that the 18 year old wanted to break up with her. He was then charged
with statutory rape. Should this type of individual be placed on a list
for the rest of his life because he made one mistake once? The only person
harmed in this incident was the 18 year old male. With many employers
nowadays asking for criminal checks this guy will never be able to get a
job. So what does this mean? It means he will have to either be on welfare
the rest of his life, live off of friends and relatives or resort to a
life of crime. Something here just doesn't make sense to me. What would happen to a guy who taps a lady's bottom and
she decides to press charges? Would he be on this list forever? According
to the knee-jerk reactionists sexual assault is sexual assault right?
There are no gray areas here, only black and white, yes and no. Is this
hypothetical man the same as a repeat child molester? I think not.
How many women are
in this database? How many female teachers who sleep with underage male
students will be placed on this list? Guaranteed, male teachers sleeping
with underage female students will end up on this list.
What a human rights catastrophe!
ARE OFFENDERS ON THE REGISTRY A THREAT?
Mr. Hudak would have Canadians believe that
individuals on the registry represent a constant threat to society and they
need to be monitored.
How dangerous are individuals on the registry?
Without a doubt there are high-risk offenders,
including some who have offended sexually, who should never be released back
into the community. Fortunately, these individuals are unlikely to achieve
release from prison or supervision due to the influence of a number of existing
processes. First, many of these offenders are screened out through the
imposition of life sentences or a dangerous offender designation. Under
the Dangerous Offender provision, an offender who is believed to constitute a
danger to the life, safety, or mental/physical well-being of others may be
subject to the classification. Under this designation, the offender could
remain in prison indefinitely if considered to pose a significant risk if
released (see R v. Jones). Once declared a dangerous offender, even if they are
paroled, the offender will be under supervision for the rest of their lives.
Furthermore, parole can be revoked at any time. To further community safety,
there exists the designation of Long Term Offender, as well as a new Long Term
Supervision Order. This designation was intended for individuals who do not
fall under the dangerous offender provisions, yet still present a substantial
risk to re-offend.
What about those who are released back into the
community, who have completed their sentence, their probation, their treatment
and are now on the registry?
Let's take a look at a few of them.
With the recent passing of Bill S-2 by the
Federal Conservatives inclusion in the Sex Offender Registry will be automatic.
Judges will no longer have the discretion to not place an individual on the
registry. Inclusion will not be based solely on the nature of the offense,
regardless of the factual circumstances, regardless of severity or risk of
re-offense, nor will it differentiate between violent or nonviolent offenses.
Here are examples of some of the individuals that will automatically be added
to the registry:
What does established research tell us
about former sex-offenders like those above?
to popular belief, former sex offenders are significantly less likely than
other criminals to be rearrested, according to the U.S. Department of
Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics and of those few former sex
offenders who do re-offend, the majority are convicted of non-sexual
sex crimes are the work of first-time offenders, against who background
checks, registries, and GPS offer no protection.
are designed to deal with situations where the victim does not know the
offender, e.g. child abductions. However, such abductions are extremely
rare. The Conservatives are enhancing the perception of sexual predators
lurking in the bushes by the playground (Hudak: “If a convicted sex
offender or child predator steps foot on a playground or near a school, I
want the police to know.” (Perhaps the former offender is at the school
meeting with their own child's teacher??)) . In fact most perpetrators of
sexual crimes are family members or other acquaintances of victims. Since
offences most often occur in the home, gps will, once again, not be an
The sources for the above
statements are located in the Media Responses/Sources Section below.
PROPOSAL FOR AN ONLINE OFFENDER REGISTRY IN ONTARIO
Would it surprise you to hear that
politicians are aware that the Canadian sex offender registry
is ineffective; that online registries have resulted in the murder of
former offenders; that they have reduced compliance rates and have likely
increased recidivism? Of course, you're unlikely to hear any of these facts
from their lips. In fact, regardless of the research, Mr. Hudak proposes
that the information contained in the Ontario
sex offender registry be made public and accessible online; a situation which
may actually undermine community safety.
Here is what Mr. Hudak is not telling you:
THE CANADIAN REGISTRIES ARE INEFFECTIVE:
Although Canada's sex offender registries have
one of the highest compliance of any registry in the world (c. 97%), in 2007,
the Ontario Auditor General observed, “there is little evidence demonstrating
the effectiveness of registries [in operation now for over a decade
reducing sexual crimes or helping investigators to solve them and the Ministry
has yet to establish performance measures for its Registry.” [http://www.priv.gc.ca/parl/2010/parl_20100415_e.cfm
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada
recommended, in 2010, a formal evaluation of the effectiveness of the
legislation and the Registry by an independent third party. This has not
happened; rather, the Conservative federal government has simply proposed an
expansion of the existing regime.
Why has the registry been ineffective? One
simple reason is that most individuals on the registry do not re-offend:
In a 2000 report, Public Safety Canada
"Very few sex offenders were granted a
pardon and the vast majority who are pardoned did not re-offend sexually. Thus,
automatic denial of pardons to sex offenders would unnecessarily curtail the
liberties of the many ex-offenders who remain crime-free."
The low recidivism rate of those having
received a pardon supports the research conducted by psychologist R. Karl
Hanson, PhD, Senior Research Officer with Public Safety Canada:
"Most sexual offenders
do not re-offend sexually over time. This may be the most important finding of
this study as this finding is contrary to some strongly held beliefs. After 15
years, 73% of sexual offenders had not been charged with, or convicted of,
another sexual offence. The decreasing rate of offending with age suggests that
the rates observed after 15 to 20 years are likely to approximate the rates
that would be observed if offenders were followed for the rest of their lives."
In the United States, officials have
reached the same conclusion:
"... if we are to believe even
half of the research that has been conducted across this nation in this field,
then we can only conclude that, in general, sex offender registration… have
little or no discernible effect on recidivism or public safety. The most
prevalent threat to the public comes from those who have not yet offended or
have not yet been identified and caught."
Canadian politicians are certainly not ignorant
of the research; much of it having been established by its own
departments. Rather, some politicians have chosen to simply disregard the
evidence in their bid to appear tough on crime and they do so by exacerbating
society’s fears and misconceptions.
THE REGISTRY DISTRACTS US FROM THE REAL
It has been said by some that the registry will
help police investigations. This argument has been rebutted by critics. In
2004, Richard Zubrycki, then special adviser to the Department of Public Safety
and Emergency Preparedness Canada, had advised the government against this type
of sex offender registry. He has been researching international sex offender
registries for 10 years, and uses the example of the case of 10-year-old Holly
Jones, who was abducted and murdered in Toronto
"In the Holly Jones case, you had a
couple of hundred former sexual offenders in that neighbourhood,"
Zubrycki says. "The perpetrator ended up being someone who wasn't on Ontario's registry.
Going through the registry takes police resources that would otherwise be spent
investigating clues and tips and going door to door."
Four weeks after the disappearance of Holly
Jones the Ontario government announced that it
would give Toronto
police an extra $700,000 to monitor sex offenders. Security Minister Bob
Runciman says Holly's murder was the catalyst for the additional resources.
Unfortunately, these resources would have been wasted even if they were
distributed a year before the disappearance of Holly Jones- Michael Briere, the
individual responsible for the murder of Holly Jones, never had a criminal
conviction and so would never have been on the sex offender registry.
When a seven-year-old American girl named Somer
Thompson vanished in 2009 police immediately questioned registered sex
offenders living in the area. Eventually a man named Jarred Harrell was charged
with her murder.
Predictably, Harrell is not a convicted sex
offender. Why “predictably”? Because most people who abduct, molest, and kill
children have no previous criminal records for crimes against children.
According to Department of Justice studies
and professor David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research
Center at the University of New Hampshire, sex offenders have a lower
recidivism (re-offense) rate than people convicted of other crimes (the idea
that sex offenders can’t be cured, or often commit further sex offenses, is a
It may seem counter-intuitive, but the
fact is that a convicted sex offender is far less likely to assault a child
than a person who has never been convicted of a sex crime. The vast majority of
crimes against children are committed by the child’s parents, family, or
friends—not a stranger.
When looking for a suspect in a child
abduction or molestation, it’s natural for the police and public to focus first
on convicted sex offenders. But more often than not the concern about sex
offenders only distracts from the more likely suspects. Children need to be
protected, and that means understanding where the real dangers lie.
Here is something else most readers didn't
know. In 1995 it was reported that 8 out of 10 female students in Ontario said they had
been sexually harassed. Was it the registered sex offenders acting up
again? No. Eight out of ten were sexually harassed in school.(“The Joke’s Over
– Student to Student Sexual Harassment in Secondary Schools”, published by The
Ontario Women’s Directorate, The Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation
and the Ministry of Education, (1995)).
More than 10 years later it’s evident that
our government has done nothing to keep these children safe:
In 2008, the Centre for Addiction and Mental
Health (CAMH)'s Dr. David Wolfe, released new research on school violence,
sexual harassment and bullying conducted at 23 schools in south western Ontario. CAMH's Centre
for Prevention Science surveyed 1819 Grade 9 and 11 students in both rural and
city schools between 2004 and 2007 to measure both the victimization and
perpetration of harassment and bullying and overall school safety. The data
collected and released in a report today shows cause for concern:
surveyed on sexual pressures, four percent of males in grade 11 admitted
trying to force someone to have sex with them, while 10 percent of males
and 27 percent of females admitted being pressured into doing something
sexual that they did not want to.
percent of grade nine girls and 33 percent of grade nine boys reported
feeling unsafe at school in the past month. "Going to high school
today is like running the gauntlet," said David Wolfe, principal
investigator and Director of CAMH's Centre for Prevention Science in London, Ontario.
"Yet the high school years are some of the most important in terms of
to the survey, 16 percent of girls and 32 percent of boys reported being
physically harmed (on or off school property), while ten percent of girls
and 25 percent of boys admit to being the perpetrators of such violence.
Dr. Wolfe cautions that the effect of what
happens in high school today can take a significant toll. "All these
behaviours, from physical violence to verbal harassment, can be harmful and
have serious effects on their well-being. Bullying and harassment are well
known to affect an individual's health and adjustment, including problems such
as depression, substance use, anxiety and academic failure," he said.
Does it surprise you know that it's not
registered sex offenders harassing your children on a daily basis, it is other
children. You may be shocked at how common this is:
between 15% and 33% of all sex offences in Canada are committed by
persons under 21 years of age.
between 1979 and 1984, nearly 1,400 persons between the ages of 16 and 19
were convicted of one or more sexual offences
population survey done for the Badgley Commission on sexual offences
against children found that almost one third of suspected or known
offenders against children was under the age of 21
These individuals are not strangers- they're
not the monsters everyone wants to believe offenders are, and they are not on a
registry. These offenders are our children. Sadly, this situation has remained
unchanged for the past 15 years. It's happening today. I'm certain that most
readers are shocked to know these statistics; after all, when these reports
were released we never heard the Canadians politicians publicly announce that
something had to be done about this deplorable situation.
No, it's better, for
them, to concentrate on the few offenders who have served their time and have less
chance of re-offending when compared to any other group of offenders. Simply
put, it's far easier for politicians to punish after the fact than it is to
concentrate on the source of these continuing, prevalent problems; by doing so
the government will look tough on crime without having to do any real work.
AN ONLINE REGISTRY: OPPOSED BY THE EXPERTS
Those individuals most knowledgeable about the
issue, and thus best able to judge its efficiency, don't support a publicly
accessible registry. Unfortunately, their views don't receive as much media
attention as Mr. Hudak's:
Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, whose job it is to steer
much of the Conservative government's get-tough-on-crime agenda, won't
even consider public access.
Toews said he's satisfied with
the existing system whereby police will issue a public alert when a high-risk
offender who hasn't sought rehabilitation or treatment moves into a community.
"It's our responsibility
to not only protect society but to create the conditions for all individuals to
rehabilitate themselves. Rather than have offenders trying to stay ahead of
information on the Internet, I'm satisfied we've found the appropriate
you disclose where these individuals are living in the community, it is
not unusual that they become harassed and that may cause them to move
underground, so we would not be able to have any control of these guys,”
said Sgt. Sue Crone, head of the Toronto Police Sex Offender Registry
Police issue an arrest warrant
when an offender fails to register but Crone says the noncompliance rate is
“minimal.” Sgt. Crone also said that [Hudak's proposed legislation] is “not
appropriate” for the sex offender registry. “Some of these people may have
committed one act and they will never re-offend again,’ she said.
candidate Lori Holloway said Jim Stephenson, who led efforts to
create it after his 11-year-old son Christopher was murdered by a
convicted sex offender, is opposed the idea and calls it “poorly
As well, she said the Ontario Provincial
Police opposes the idea. “Sex offenders will be driven underground and out
of contact with police,” she suggested, citing information from the
Correctional Service of Canada,
which found GPS technology is not completely reliable.
do not support public disclosure of the registry. If we look to the U.S.
to make comparisons...by making the registries public, they make them
ineffective. It is difficult to look at their studies and say they are
effective or they help reduce crime when they might increase crime in some
situations. By focusing on offenders and telling the population where
offenders live, they might drive offenders underground and away from their
families. ... It is not a good model to look toward for
Steve Sullivan, Federal Ombudsman for
Victims of Crime, Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime
think it serves several symbolic purposes, but it's not proven that it
affects public safety," said Martin Horn, a professor at John Jay
College of Criminal Justice in New York and former
commissioner of the city's Department of Corrections.
"I think there's a logical argument to be
made that it might, but I don't think that it's been demonstrated statistically
that it does."
AN ONLINE REGISTRY: RESULTS IN MURDER AND
Why would the experts not support a public registry? One reason is the
certainty of vigilantism perpetrated against former offenders. Gary Ellis, a
Progressive Conservative candidate, naively rejected any suggestion that a
public database would lead to instances of vigilantism against sex offenders.
"Good people will not break the law," he said. Obviously, Mr. Ellis
did not research the effects of posting personal offender information online;
if he had Mr. Ellis would have been quite aware of the brutal slayings of two
convicted sex offenders from Maine,
by a Canadian, in 2006.
Twenty-year-old Stephen Marshall of Nova
Scotia, Canada, killed himself aboard a Boston-bound bus after allegedly
murdering two convicted sex offenders in Maine, whom he'd found on the state's
sex offender Web site.
One of the victims, 24-year-old William
Elliott, was convicted four years ago of having sex with a girlfriend who was
only days away from her 16th birthday. Elliott served four months in jail.
Marshall had earlier gone online and
obtained personal information on both Elliott and Joseph L. Gray, 57, another
convicted sex offender, whom Marshall
is also suspected of murdering earlier that day.
Investigators also revealed that Marshall obtained the addresses and other information of
34 people from Maine's
online sex offender registry.
This was not the first murder of former
offenders which have been directly contributed to information derived from
publicly accessible registries:
the state of New Hampshire
sent 57-year-old Lawrence Trant to jail for 10 to 30 years after he pleaded
guilty to charges of attempted murder on two convicted sex offenders whose
names and addresses he'd located on the state's sex offender registry.
State a man posed as
an FBI agent to enter the home of two sex offenders, warning them that
they were on a “hit list” on the internet. Then he killed them. The
murderer said he targeted the pair after finding them on the online Whatcom County, Wash.,
sex offender list.
Michael A. Mullen of Bellingham,
Wash., was charged with the
murders of two convicted sex offenders after he admitted to police that he
wanted to kill them after he saw the information listed on the state's
online sex offender Web site.
When 67-year-old convicted sex offender Michael Dodele moved to the
northern California town of Lakeport, he might have thought he could leave
his past behind. But that didn't happen. Sheriff's deputies found him dead
from stab wounds last month in his mobile home. They quickly arrested his
neighbour, 29-year-old construction worker Ivan Garcia Oliver, who made
"incriminating comments, essentially admitting to his attacking
Dodele," police said. A neighbour of Oliver's said that two
days before the killing, he "told every house" in the trailer
park that he found Dodele's name listed on the Web site of convicted
sexual offenders, and was uncomfortable living near him.
a 19-year-old Virginia
man is accused of using the state's sex offender registry to harass a
registered sex offender, chase him down, and then strike him with his
state man who shot another man in the head because the shooter mistakenly
thought the victim was a sex offender has been sentenced to more than 15
years in prison on assault and gun convictions.
Don't think this could happen in Ontario? Just take a
moment to look at the comments section of any online article related to the
proposed registry and you'll see the following:
"Solve the problem, execute
"Public shaming should be mandatory - they're lucky they don't have to walk
around with a brand on their foreheads".
"She says making names and addresses public could lead to some unintended
consequences — such as retaliation and vigilante action." ...she's saying
that as if it would be a bad thing".
"I have NO PROBLEM WHATSOEVER if people use this registry to mete out the
justice that our so-called "justice" system was too cowardly to
These murders, the ones we were able to
directly link to the online registry (how many others are we not aware of?),
served as "a stark reminder that there's no evidence that online sex
offender registries increase public safety. In fact, they might just do the
opposite," said Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont ACLU.
"They should not be making any changes to the online registry unless they
can determine that, indeed, the registry increases public safety. We think they
never should have created it."
AN ONLINE REGISTRY: REDUCES COMPLIANCE
RATES | INCREASES RECIDIVISM (Re-offendism)
Human Rights Watch investigated sex
offender registries. They say the severity of the offense is not taken into
account nor is the change in behaviour of the individual. Approximately three
quarters of sex offenders never offend again, contrary to widespread mythology.
Yet someone who has acted responsibly for decades can still be listed. They
also noted that being listed on the registry can be devastating for individuals.
Their privacy is shattered. Many cannot
get or keep jobs or find affordable housing. Registrants’ children have been
harassed at school; registrants’ spouses have also been forced to leave their
jobs. Former offenders included on online registries have been hounded from
their homes, had rocks thrown through windows, and feces left on their
doorsteps. They have been beaten, burned, stabbed, and had their homes set on
fire. Other registrants have been driven to suicide.
The scenario presented by Human Rights Watch is
the primary reason why the online registry makes it much harder to track sex
offenders. If offenders were registered with the police alone it would be
much easier to track them because there would be little reason for the
offenders to not comply-thus the high compliance rate enjoyed by Canadian
"Today, we have a premier sex offender
registry in Ontario, with a 97% compliance
rate, one of the highest rates of any sex offender registry in all of North America. The OSOR is not accessible to the public,
and this contributes to the high offender compliance rate."
Ron Gentle: Chief Superintendent with the Ontario Provincial Police
When the information is made public the
offenders and their families are often forced from one residency to another in
order to avoid harassment. One police official in the United States said: “You’ve got sex offenders
getting evicted every other week, moving, coming into to make changes and by
the time we’ve forwarded the data to Austin,
they’ve moved again.”
As a result of posting registry information online, California has lost track of 44% of the sex offenders on its list, 40% in Iowa, Wisconsin says
they lost track of 29% of their list and Minnesota
says that in excess of 20% from their list are missing.
In Iowa, one police official
said that they used to be able to track 95 percent of offenders. But as offenders
are publicly listed more and more of them are dropping their registrations. Now
he says they can find only 70- to 75% of these people. The rest have
disappeared from the listing. Contrast this to the compliance rates in
make our registries very reliable sources of information for police.
Individuals who work with sex offenders to deal
with their problems say the result of these laws is actually to encourage
more offending. Psychologist Richard Hamill helps treat sex offenders and
of re-offense is much lower if (an offender) is employed, has safe housing, is
in treatment and has a support system like a 12-step program or the support of
families and friends.... What has happened is that ... some folks are now
losing their jobs or being ostracized from their communities
Jill Levenson, of Lynn
University in Florida, says half of registered sex
offenders have trouble finding jobs. From 20% to 40% say they have had to move
house because a landlord or neighbour realized they were sex offenders. And
most report feeling depressed, hopeless or afraid.
Kent Willis, Executive Director for the Virginia ACLU says he understands why
you would want to know if a sex offender lives in your neighbourhood, but
doesn't think that information should be made public online. "When we put
them on a website, we make them targets. If we marginalize them, the tendency
is for them to make the same crimes again", says Willis.
In one study performed in the United
offenders subject to community
notification were rearrested for new crimes twice as quickly as comparable sex
offenders released without notification
1996, p. 298).
GPS for Offenders
Mr Hudak said he will 'protect families' by
putting GPS tracking on those 'dangerous offenders', by which he means
all of the over 14,000 currently registered sex offenders living in Ontario.
How well did Mr. Hudak do his research? Obviously he did very little, or none
PROPOSED GPS: EFFECTIVENESS
Mr. Hudak stated that "three Canadian
provinces use this technology along with 40 American states". True
enough. What he did not tell you was that, within most of those provinces and
states, only those individuals considered high-risk to re-offend, and are
usually on parole or on probation (due to the fact that two-thirds of
recidivists re-offended within 3 years of release), are ordered to wear a GPS
(California is one of only two states that mandates that all registered sex
offenders be monitored for life).
Mr. Hudak, on the other hand would make
no distinction between habitual offenders at high risk of striking again, worth
having their every move tracked electronically once they're out of prison, and
the ex-offenders who have served their time, completed their probation/parole,
and present no apparent threat to public safety. Just put a GPS device on all
of them, Mr. Hudak says, forever.
"We're finding ways to use technology to
create what is a permanent deprivation of liberty," says Marc Rotenberg,
executive director of the Electronic
Center. "It raises
some very important issues about what the state may do to an essentially free
Dr. Howard E. Barbaree, clinical director of
the Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Law and Mental Health
, said that kind of electronic tracking is actually not necessary
for most offenders and should only be done with "very high risk"
Jim Bradley, the Minister of Community
Safety and Corrections, said of Mr. Hudak's proposal: "It doesn't seem
thought through," noting the federal government tested some monitoring
devices recently and found the technology unreliable.” They had so many
malfunctions, police found that they were just running around in circles,"
Keeping electronic tabs on convicted sex
offenders will do virtually nothing for public safety, lawyer Dan
Brodsky said.” You won't know who's with them and you won't know what they're
doing with who he's with, but you'll know that person is living down the street
from you," Brodsky said. "What information does that give you?"
It just provides you with a lot of information that the police already
know," he added.
PROPOSED GPS: COST:
Mr. Hudak has estimated that the cost of the
GPS monitoring program would be about $50 million. Let's look at a real-world example to allow us
to estimate cost. California is currently
utilizing GPS to monitor 6,788 sex offender parolees; this is less than
half of the number of registrants Mr. Hudak proposes be tracked by GPS in Ontario. It is
conservatively estimated that the use of GPS in the state of California is presently costing approximately
$65,000,000.00 per year.
If Mr. Hudak did his research he would have known that
is cost projection was way off. It would appear that Solicitor General Jim
Bradley may be correct when he said that, in order to use effective GPS
technology. The price tag would actually be “quadruple” that of Mr. Hudak's
estimate. So, we're now looking at approximately $200 million dollars per
What happens when the number of registrants
begins to soar in the next few years? Mr. Hudak's estimation is based on the fact
that that there are currently fourteen thousand individuals on the Ontario registry. What
he did not tell you is that, with the recent passing of Bill S-2 by the federal
Conservatives, inclusion in the Sex Offender Registry will be automatic.
will no longer have the discretion to not place an individual on the registry.
Inclusion will be based solely on the nature of the offense, regardless of the
factual circumstances, regardless of severity or risk of re-offense, nor will
it differentiate between violent or nonviolent offenses. It's probable that
within the next ten years the number of registrants in Ontario will double. Estimated projected
cost: $400 million dollars per year.
THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE WITH GPS:
In 1944, California
became the first state to compel the registration of convicted sex offenders.
On November 7, 2006 California
passed Proposition 83, known as Jessica’s Law. This proposition required, among
other things, that all registered sex offenders released on parole be monitored
for life, by using Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) technology in the form of
a satellite-tracked ankle bracelet. The law was passed with little information about how it would be implemented or evidence of whether GPS technology would
protect Californians from sex offenders.
The passage of Proposition 83 has led to over
6,788 sex offender parolees being placed on GPS monitoring. This is by far the
largest use of GPS monitoring anywhere in the world. However, it's evident that
“The effectiveness and cost effectiveness of widespread use of GPS with sex
offenders in California
has not been evaluated" (CASOMB, 2010).
The California Sex Offender Management Board
(CASOMB) was created to provide the Governor and the State Legislature as well
as relevant state and local agencies with an assessment of current sex offender
management practices and recommended areas of improvement. In 2010, CSOMB
submitted its final report. Contained within that report were the following
information and recommendations:
Although many states are now reporting the
use of GPS technology to monitor sex offenders, there are still very few
evaluations of their usefulness in providing public safety and lowering of
recidivism rates. There seems to be some anecdotal sentiment that is supportive
of the usage of GPS monitoring, but very little statistical data to support
its effectiveness in preventing re-offense. Individual state evaluations have
shown mixed results In terms of the ultimate efficacy of GPS on recidivism and
criminal behaviour. The consensus of the GPS evaluations seem to be that this
tool is most effective when utilized as part of an overall containment model”
of supervision and when used with high risk offenders.
GPS MONITORING RECOMMENDATIONS:
Utilize GPS monitoring only in conjunction with some form of community
supervision, with the understanding that some high-risk offenders may need to
be subject to extended supervision (including lifetime supervision for
exceptionally high-risk offenders)
Prioritize the use of GPS monitoring primarily for serious and high risk sex
- Allow GPS monitoring to be minimized or eliminated after a defined period of
time if there have been no new offenses and there has been satisfactory
compliance with all terms of registration and parole conditions
In the United States, other recent
assessments portray a system that ignores much of the data captured by GPS
monitors and parole agents overwhelmed with responsibilities:
We are just drowning in dots,” said
Robert Coombs, chair of the state Sex Offender Management Board, referring to
the way parolees’ tracks appear on agents’ mapping software. “What happens is
the more broadly we use it, the more difficult it becomes in identifying the
Every time a bracelet’s battery charge is low or a parolee enters into an off-limits
zone, agents receive cell phone and e-mail alerts—regardless of whether the
action requires an immediate response.
The state’s 274 parole agents on GPS
caseloads received almost a million of these alerts last year, according to the
Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. What that means for North Bay parole agent
Donovan Lewis is that his workday never ends. “With GPS, it makes it 24-7
because we get alerts,” he said.
Critics in the United States scoff at
the notion that a criminal who will not register voluntarily with the state
once a year will keep wearing a GPS ankle bracelet, much less diligently
recharge the battery every night. "It's a felony for them not to register,
so if they're going to commit a felony, why would they leave their GPS unit
on?" says Robert Coombs, director of public affairs for the California
Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a state wide coalition of 66 rape crisis
centers. "It's really naive to think that this is going to solve the
problems." Attorney Stein agrees. "GPS devices can be easily
removed," he says. "They're not encased in kryptonite."
In 2006 Minnesota
lawmakers considered spending millions of dollars to electronically monitor sex
offenders. At the time about 20 sex offenders, considered the most dangerous,
wore the GPS monitors in Minnesota.
Some legislators wanted to put the monitors on all of their hundreds of
offenders. Mike Fall, Supervisor of the Minnesota Department of Corrections,
argued that putting a GPS monitor on all sex offenders is a bad idea.
feel the way we are currently doing it -- putting what we consider to be the
highest risk, the most dangerous, on GPS at this point in time -- has been very
effective," says Fall. "When you widen that net and put people on
that GPS system, in most cases it (GPS) probably isn't really necessary to
supervise them." He says less than 1 percent of offenders commit new
crimes while on supervision.
Mr. Fall’s conclusions were reinforced by the
decision made by the California Sex Management Board in 2008:
"With the cost of GPS tracking
and the amount of time devoted to supervising offenders on GPS taken into
consideration, only high-risk offenders should be considered for placement on
GPS tracking. Additionally, GPS officers recommended that those offenders who
have completed GPS supervision without incident should be removed from GPS and
placed on a lower level of supervision (Tennessee
Board of Probation and Parole, 2007). This method frees up the unit for another
offender to use, delineates a goal for offenders to work towards, and builds
trust between the formerly tracked offenders and the criminal justice
The results of a recent study, published
August 8, 2011:
- GPS technology is far more
limited than anticipated
- 70 percent of alerts are false alarms
"GPS technology is currently too underdeveloped to recommend continued
swift enactment of legislation mandating implementation and utilization of GPS
in a cost-effective manner."
WHY IS HUDAK REALLY PROPOSING THE USE OF
As we have seen, GPS will not serve as an
effective deterrent; it will not make communities any safer; it's an expensive
and non-reliable technology.
would Tim Hudak push this expensive
scheme on Ontarians?
Well, it might have
something to do with Tim Hudak's friends.
For example, Gordon Baker is a Director and Jemtech Inc., a
major distributor of GPS tracking devices. He's also a major donor to
Hudak's PC Party, with over $50,000 in
personal donations. And he is credited in Tim Hudak's election platform.
There's a history
between Hudak and Baker/Jemtech. Under the last PC government Jemtech
claimed 87% of their business came from sole-sourced deals with the PC
So police say
communities will be less safe. But Hudak's friends may get lucrative new
example of Tim Hudak's questionable judgment."
The issue is not whether children need to be
protected, of course they do. The issue is whether the solutions proposed to
ensure their safety actually alleviate the danger to them. Unfortunately,
Instead of aggressively seeking solutions to the dangers that women and
children face, both in the home and in our schools, the federal government
introduces laws that will increase the severity of punishments after the
crime was committed and the prescribed sentence completed.
former offenders, most of who will likely never re-offend, is a good way to
look tough without actually doing anything. Separating former sex offenders
from society and increasing their punishment does nothing to protect
society. The vast majority of crimes against children are committed not by
released sex offenders but instead, by a victim’s own family member and close
Mr. Hudak referred to the individuals on the
registry; those who have legally paid their debt to society and are now
law-abiding, voting, tax-paying, Canadian citizens, as “these predators”.
"The reality is the vast majority of registrants are not predatory, and
don't pose a danger to strangers, which is the only reason GPS would be
useful," says Jeff Stein, a criminal defence attorney, and co-chair of the
legislative committee for California Attorneys for Criminal Justice. The new
GPS devices, he says, fuel "the hysteria that all registrants are
As Conservative politicians rush to impose
harsher penalties on those who have offended sexually, critics -- legal and
criminal analysts, and even some victims of sex crimes themselves -- state that
the punitive new laws violate civil liberties and are ineffective. And while a
technological fix like fastening GPS devices to former felons may make the
public feel safer, it will do nothing to protect the victims of most sex
More importantly, preventing the rehabilitation of former
offenders may lead to increased recidivism. Canadians would most likely prefer
to see the tens of millions of dollars Ontario
is about to spend monitoring ex-offenders be poured into counselling for
victims of crimes and into programs for offenders that aim to prevent
What Can the Government Do To Improve
Are you tired of politicians implementing
policies that do very little, other than promoting the image that they are
'tough on crime'? Any policies that have a real effect on community safety will
take both time and effort, but it can be done.
All legislative action must be duly considered and based on evidence. Empirical
inquiry is needed into the impact and effectiveness of public policies designed
to prevent sexual violence. Funding for research which investigates the impact
and effectiveness of sexual violence policies should be a priority.
Collaborative efforts should exist between citizens, victim groups, offenders,
and treatment providers to render management, probationary supervision, and
rehabilitation services that promote community safety.
"Assessment procedures are available that allow practitioners to
distinguish between sexual offenders with a low risk of reoffending and those
with a high risk of reoffending. Consequently, community safety can be
efficiently served when responses to sexual offenders vary according to their risk level."
With the ability to effectively determine risk
level, it is the responsibility of our government to do so. We must employ
standardized reporting and risk level guidelines for all offenders making
monitoring easier and more effective for law enforcement, corrections
personnel, and the courts. Implement a four-tier risk level; to include
NO RISK, LOW RISK, MEDIUM RISK, and HIGH RISK. Such risk levels, established
prior to re-entry into society and reassessed annually, must be proportionate
not only to the gravity of the offence but also to the personal circumstances
of the offender.
It is the responsibility of our government
to ensure that high-risk offenders are not returned to the community.
4. Most sex offenders do not
re-offend. Those offenders who returned for a new sex related offense did so
within a few years of release. Two-thirds recidivate within three years.
If GPS is to be imposed upon former offenders, let it be in-line with the
practice employed by most American states, where GPS is utilized only when the
offender is on probation or parole.
efforts should be directed at the prevention of sexual abuse amongst teens
and young adults through development of successful coping skills and through
understanding of appropriate boundaries. Communities are entitled to the
dissemination of actual and research-based information and education about
sexual violence and sexual perpetrators.
measures which make it difficult for past offenders to reintegrate successfully
into the community. Encourage support groups for sex offenders, including help
with finding housing, employment and effective treatment, before their release
not harsher conditions is imperative to preventing recidivism. Provide separate
sex offender correctional facilities and mandatory therapy prior to, and after,
"... if we are to believe even half of the research that has been
conducted across this nation in this field, then we can only conclude that, in
general, sex offender registration… have little or no discernible effect on
recidivism or public safety. The most prevalent threat to the public comes from
those who have not yet offended or have not yet been identified and
"8% of sex offenders were recommitted in the 10-year period"
"3% of sex offenders committed a sexually-related violation of probation/
"½ of recidivists re-offended within two years of release"
"2/3 of recidivists re-offended within 3 years of release"
"Sex Offenders have a lower recidivism
rate than other offenders"
Follow-up Period: 4 years
"7.1% of sex offenders who went through treatment reoffended"
"16.5% of sex offenders who did not undergo treatment reoffended"
Criminal Sentencing Division
"Only 14% of inmates in prison on sex crimes had prior sex crime
"In short, 86% in prison were first-time offenders or about 6 out of
"2 out of every 3 people who committed a
serious sex crime would not meet the base DSM-IV criteria for pedophilia".
Sex Offenders have
a low Specific Recidivism rate
9,641 sex offenders released in 15 states (Three-year follow-up period)
262,420 non-sex offenders released in same 15 states in 1994
517 sex offenders (5.3% of all sex offenders) were arrested for a sex crime
within 3 years, 3.5% of sex offenders re-convicted
3,228 non-sex offenders (1.3% of all no-sex offenders) were arrested for a sex
crime within the same three year period
Sex Offender Management Board (www.CASOMB.org) June 2008. RECIDIVISM OF PAROLED SEX OFFENDERS – A FIVE (5) YEAR STUDY:
- Wyoming Legislative
Service Office. Research Memo
Jersey Department Of Corrections Study on the Effectiveness of Sex
Offender Registration, February 11, 2009:
- New York State Division of Probation and
Correctional Alternatives Research Bulletin: Sex Offender Populations,
Recidivism and Actuarial Assessment, 2007
Department of Corrections. Arizona
Inmate Recidivism Study. 2005
"Statistics show most sex offenders are
not likely to repeat their crimes. [We see] the increasing efficacy of offender
treatment, largely due to a modern behaviour modification model stressing
relapse prevention through recognition and avoidance of criminal
The Economist: America’s Unjust Sex Laws.
The cover story calls America's harsh
punishment of sex offenders "unjust and ineffective."
Hollida Wakefield, “The Vilification of Sex Offenders: Do Laws Targeting”
As former offenders are denied opportunities to reintegrate into society
and stigmatized, they lose hope. Stigmatized
offenders are more likely to recidivate than reintegrated offenders, as the
resistance to recidivate diminishes among offenders who are ostracized.
the other hand, a “pro-social identity,” including concrete recognition of
their reform, is integral to reducing recidivism.
“Handbook for Sexual Abuser Assessment and Treatment
” by Mark
S. Carich and Stephen E.
Mussack. Safer Society Press, 2001.--The Safer Society Press is one of the
premier publishers of books dealing with treatment of deviant sexual behaviours.
This handbook is a guide to different treatment techniques
The Adam Walsh Act: Scarlet Letter, by Lara Geer
Farley, April 17, 2008:
Fact Sheets Examine Impact of Sex Offender Registries: Justice Policy
Institute, September 2, 2008:
Collateral Damage: Family Members of Registered Sex Offenders by Jill
Levenson, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Human Services at Lynn University
Published in (2009) issue of American Journal of Criminal Justice,
Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies: Final Report of the
Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social
Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States., December 31, 2008:
Revising the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act: Our Best Hope for
Dealing with Sex-Abuse Hysteria in the United States, Richard A. Gardner, 1993
to the reporters.
Residential Proximity to Schools and Daycare Centers: Influence on sex
offense recidivism, An empirical analysis by Jill Levenson, Ph.D., Associate
Professor of Human Services at Lynn University, December 23, 2008:
When Evidence Is Ignored: Residential Restrictions For Sex Offenders. By
Richard Tewksbury and Jill Levenson
The Pursuit of Safety: Sex Offender Policy in the United States, Vera
Institute of Justice, September 2008:
Treatment and Re-entry Practices for Sex Offenders, An Overview of States,
Vera Institute of Justice, September 2008:
Youth Sex Offenses Fact and Fiction, Justice Policy Institute, February
SOL Research.org: Research on Sex Offender Laws and their Effects on
People and Society
Sex Offender Treatment: Reconciling Criminal Justice Priorities and
Therapeutic Goals by Mary Ann Farkas & Gale Miller, December 2008:
Sexual Predator Laws: A Two-Decade Retrospective by Eric S. Janus &
Robert A. Prentky, December 2008:
Brandishing the Mark of Cain: Defects in the Adam Walsh Act by Joseph L.
Lester, December 2008:
Perpetual Panic, by Michael O’ Hear Marquette University Law School, March
Life before the Modern Sex Offender Statutes, by Deborah W. Denno, Fordham
University School of Law, January 2009:
One of These Laws is Not Like the Others: Why the Federal Sex Offender
Registration and Notification Act Raises New Constitutional Questions, by Corey
Rayburn Yung, The John Marshall Law School, August 2008:
Banishment of Sex Offenders: Individual Liberties, National Rights and the
Dormant Commerce Clause, Environmental Justice, and Alternatives, by Shelley
Ross Saxer, Pepperdine University, September 2008:
The Sex Offender Register: A Case Study in Function Creep, by Terry Thomas,
Leeds Metropolitan University, June 2008:
Sex Offender Registration and Community Notification: Past Present and
Future, by Wayne A. Logan, Florida State University College of Law, February
Be They Fish or Not Fish: The Fishy Registration of Nonsexual Offenders, by
Ofer Raban, University of Oregon, August 2007:
From Wetterling to Walsh: The Growth of Federalization in Sex Offender
Policy by Richard G. Wright, December 2008:
The Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act and the Commerce Clause
by Corey Rayburn Yung, December 2008:
Child Pornography Sentencing: The Road Here and the Road Ahead by Ian N.
Friedman & Kristina W. Supler, December 2008:
This paper found that actuarial methods were
the best predictors vs. professional judgment. It means that psychologically
informed risk assessments may have strong predictive accuracy and clinical use
for specific cases (general, sexual, violent, etc.)
This project found that trained community
supervision officers can reliably predict sex offense recidivism, specifically
with STATIC-2007, STABLE-2007 and ACUTE-2007 assessments.
This research bulletin builds upon the first by
introducing concepts related to structured assessment and instruments that
foster collaboration among probation officers, clinicians and treatment
This research bulletin the first in a series
published by the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional
Alternatives bringing together issues in managing sex offenders on probation.
The following is extremely controversial and again I must remind you "Protect Our Kids World Wide" and all of our partners remain entirely neutral and do not have any opinions either way on the following article. I found it completely by accident when looking for unique points of view with regards to pornography.
An insight into child porn
February 26, 2009
10 years inside the
international child porn industry with a confidential source.
By Mr. X
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is not really proper to send
anonymous letters. Given the contents of this letter, everyone will understand
my wish for anonymity. Nevertheless, I hope that you will read this letter
completely and think about it.
In recent months, I have followed
closely the debate on the topic of filtering of child pornography in Germany. There
have been various suggestions about how the Internet should be censored and
filtered - not only by the Federal Government (Mrs. von der Leyen and Mr.
Schaeuble) but also by federal countries (such as in Lower Saxony from Mr.
Discussions on this topic have
lasted for months and have triggered a strong polemic which is also reflected
in various forums. For the first time ever, I will present the "flip
side" of the issue and give you an insight from the other side. I will
describe controversial and possibly - from today's perspective - immoral things
Before we begin, I want to say a
few words about the legalities and myself: I will be as accurate as possible to
describe the background and my involvement in this (if any) so that my
statements can be verified (we know it would be illegal to give links to files
or email accounts). I have included an excerpt from PCPro from the year 2007 on
the Landslide case. I recommend everyone to read this report. A few words about
myself: I am German, but have lived about 20 years abroad, have a background in
the telecommunications sector and later a second training in the field of
education. In my current country there are no laws relating to surfing,
viewing, downloading and saving any type of files.
For this reason, I know very
precisely what is happening in the Internet because I am fully able to follow
what happens. Also, I am in an unfavourable position: earlier, I was for a
while strongly involved in the field of children models. From this time period
I know of hundreds of pedophiles and have virtual contact with designers,
programmers and operators of the sites that operate today's CP [Child
Pornography]. I have even got to know personally some of the girls (and their
families) in the famous CP sets.
In order to systematically
describe the situation, I decided to do this in a theme-oriented fashion:
on the history of the industry in the Middle Ages, when the life
expectancy was still significantly lower, the puberty began later than today
and adolescents in the age range 12-18 years were set up for marriage. This
changed increasingly. Naked, erotically depicted boys and girls have always
been in the center of the art. As photography became popular at the end of the
18th Century, also erotic act descriptions with children and young people were
made. At the end of the 60s there was a magazine called Lolita, produced by the
Danish company "Color Climax” that had sex between children and between
children and adults as the subject.
This magazine was sold everywhere
- sometimes from under the counter. Only in the 80s the magazine was
discontinued due to new laws set. From the 90s, the notion of child pornography
expanded ever further. In the 70s and 80s, nudist magazines such as "Young
and Free," "Sunshine Friends", etc. were still perfectly legal
to buy. Even artists such as David Hamilton, Jock Sturges and Sally Mann
published images of naked children and adolescents, which was at the time was
considered an art - even though the first voices reported this as child
pornography to blame. The photographer Jacques Bourboulon got special attention
because of the very erotic pictures of Eva Ionescu he made.
As the Internet age in the '90s
began, pictures were initially exchanged via specific NNTP newsgroups.
Specifically zealous fathers began even to abuse their own children and to
share the pictures with others. This was nothing commercial - it was on grounds
of seeking approval - these people wanted to be the biggest and got plenty of
encouragement from lurkers (people that use the material in newsgroups without
contributing anything themselves). Between 1996 and 1999 the first commercial
offerings of nude act pictures of children and adolescents emerged.
these sites had quite an artistic approach, while others lacked in this regard
completely. In addition to NNTP, forums emerged as a social meeting place and
as a means to exchange plenty of files and links. From 2002 LS Studios was
founded - a group of Ukrainian businessmen and professional photographers.
Within 2 years, LS Studios had 1500 children and young people who posed naked -
with the consent of their parents. The models were even recruited through TV
and newspaper ads. The photo quality and professionalism exceeded anything
previously published. LS Studios published over half a million images and
hundreds of videos on dozens of websites.
In 2004, under the pressure of and
with the help of the FBI, LS Studios was closed. The prosecution was
discontinued and there was no one convicted. Since 2003 was also the heyday of
a man from St. Petersburg
who was known under the pseudonym Fly, Hook and Scorp. This time the pics were
in much worse quality and much harder. He has a lot of models approximately
between 11 and 14 years of age in front of the camera masturbating and pleased
with the dildo. These images were being published in - no longer existing -
sites like MyLola, Hotlols, Goldenlols, etc. In specific cases the girl even
had sexual intercourse in front of a recording video camera. What is special
about this production was that he himself started very young.
Being a son of a
high Russian official, he had shortage of nothing. When he was still a minor he
falsified documents to claim that he was an adult and with his male and female
friends as models, he began the business. First he started with provocative but
miserable nude act pictures that he produced for other operators (such as
Pedolola, etc.) and then proceeded to defloration in front of the camera. Only
at the end of 2008 he gave up the business. No, not because the police put a
stop but because someone stole his money and everyone (he, the photographer and
his models) lost interest as a result - since for all of them it was only a
matter of money.
The CP producer from St. Petersburg was the
one who in the last year flooded the Internet with masturbation pictures and
videos. I have no problems finding contacts to his models. I will only say
this: there is an interesting Naturist Club in St. Petersburg called Holynature (reachable under
holynature.ru). Interestingly, there are pictures of young people in
Holynature.ru sometimes posing with models who are also seen in the harsh CP
photos and videos ... So as I am able to successfully investigate this, the
authorities should also be capable of the same ... However, I speak many
languages and have an extraordinarily good education, in particular in the
At this point I have to mention
the so-called Child and Non Nude Teen Modeling Sites that have been existing
since the 90s. These are websites that market images and videos of children or
youngsters. The quality of the images varies hugely and ranges from Webcam
quality to absolute professional quality. Initially, these sites were usually
run by parents and later came more and more professional operators into the
picture. The pictures range, depending on the operators, from pictures in
conservative clothes to very provocative poses with legs spread and erotic
About the Non Nude scene it is known that much happened behind closed
doors. Many customers make offers for so-called Custom shootings - in other
words pictures by request. Customers wrote scenarios, poses, and sometimes even
sent clothes to them so that they can produce images specifically for this
customer - at a good price. In most cases such requests also included the
desire for naked pictures in unique poses - however true sexual abuse or rape
was an absolute exception.
Differing legal positions child pornography - the word is
used everywhere and nonetheless it is totally unclear what it actually
describes. This is where the problem begins: there are totally different legal
situations. What is considered CP in one place can be in another place
perfectly legal. Even the legal description of CHILD is not regulated. In a
country you are a child until you are 18 years old, in another the limit is 16
years, or as in Germany
one is legally a child until one is 14 years old, after that he/she is called a
young minor until he/she becomes an adult. In practice this leads to constant
Law is by no means uniform. A few years ago there were these kinds
of problems with the magazine "Seventeen" in the Netherlands.
When the Internet emerged, the company produced entirely legal pornography with
young people aged 16. As long as this was sold in the Netherlands, it
was no problem. But with the advent of the Internet Seventeen wanted to sell
the pictures and videos on the internet as well. It was not long until it hit
the headlines everywhere for "child pornography", especially in the USA.
became a huge political pressure on the Dutch authorities. A very similar
problem seems to be, soon, with Switzerland,
where this minor protection ends at the age of 16. Not to mention countries
such as Japan where the age
limits in some places is 13 years (the same applies in Spain). There are countries where
there is no minimum age but one is entitled to have sex when married (this is
often the case in Muslim countries). So here is again the question: what is
child pornography? The answer may vary.
The business model authorities and the media write
sensational reports about the proportions, the alleged threat and trillions of
transactions made by the child porn industry. I will give you for the first
time very accurate figures on retail sales. These figures are very accurate and
I have got them from the people responsible for the bills. But first a few
details about the course and consequences.
As the real Internet business
emerged in the late 90s, it was very easy to enter into this business. I
remember the people of Site-Key.com from St.
Petersburg that did much business in 2000.
They had a
Delaware Corporation in the United States,
a Visa and MasterCard merchant account with Card Service International in California, and they ran all the payments via the U.S. through a
gateway link from Linkpoint. But there were not only Site-Key but still a lot
of other vendors. One of them provided services particularly for the
distributors of hardcore child pornography (CP was mostly scanned images of
Lolita magazines of the 70s, nudism, nudist pictures doctored to show them
pornographic, as well as pictures of fathers abusing their daughters that they
had posted in newsgroups or forums). This second company (IWest) had their
headquarters in Israel and did their billing through Israeli banks which were
aware of the scheme (until Visa withdrew the license from some Israeli banks,
some have even settled for CCBill for whom it did not matter what was paid for,
the main focus being that money was moving.
Some Russian / Israeli citizens
were never particularly choosy...). There was no problem to bill for any kind
images, and the hosting of nude images was not a particular problem for these
companies - let alone for the Non Nude Models. At this time almost 100% of the
websites were hosted in the United
States because it was the only place where
it was affordable. The Web sites have generated such traffic, that a human
being can hardly imagine how big the interest really is. I have the 2001
statistics of a website containing naked pictures of children and adolescents.
During the month of June 2001, a total of 200 million visits to the site took
place (this is not page views, but unique visitors but on a daily scale - it is
likely that a good part of visitors this month visited the site on many days
and have been counted multiple times.
My estimate is that there were about 15
million unique visitors during this month). The ratio between visitors and
buyers, however, is very small. The same site in June 2001 a turnover of
approximately U.S. $ 60,000 made at a price of about $ 30 which is
approximately 2000 customers. Even Web sites that still exist, such as
Met-Art.com bought productions in 2000 with 11-14 year old girls, and
everything was billed through the very serious CCBill (this series are no
longer at Met-Art Journal).
After 11 September 2001, the United States
was becoming increasingly unattractive for foreigners because there were so
many bureaucratic hurdles that it was no longer worthwhile. Billing-companies
oriented themselves increasingly towards Eastern Europe
and found partners such as the Alfabank that took care of the necessary
Merchant contracts for a price. It must be said that groups from Belarus -
specialized for years on the Internet billings - have built up systems, which
can be used to invoice all this stuff (perfect money washing facilities). As LS
models came onto the market, they have developed their own credit card payment
LS was in 2003-2004 the world's biggest studio providers of photographs
and videos from erotica with children and young people including close-ups of
genitals and breasts (but no sex) - typical for Softcore pornography. The girls
were from all walks of life, participated completely voluntarily and usually
with the blessing of the parents to take photographs. The most popular girls
have been posing repeatedly for years (some even until 2007, long after the
collapse of LS Studios) and everyone who has seen these pictures can see that
these girls like to be in the pictures and have had fun during the recordings
(it is finally time that someone says this as it really is, even if it seems to
LS studios had countless sites such as LS Land, Fantasy LS, LS
Magazine, etc., and sold to the best studios around 1500 LS entrances on the
day for about 40 USD. That makes a daily turnover of approximately USD 60,000
and a monthly turnover of approximately USD 1.8 million, annual sales of
approximately 21.6 million USD. Mind you, this is the total turnover. For the
payment of the 1500 models, personnel, the various sites, their own studios to
create clothes and backgrounds, shares of the Bank and the crazy traffic costs
and the server accounted for about 1 to 1.3 million monthly costs. The operator
got the profit, about half a million per month.
The money could be perfectly
washed through Riga or Vilnius. Today mostly English offshore LTD's
are used with bank accounts in offshore banks such as the Griffon Bank (an
example). Until today, many operators have their accounts at banks such as
Parex under false names to which they receive money transfers and from which
they can withdraw money by credit card at any ATM. The commercial supply of
child pornography is very limited. There are tens of thousands of child
pornographic websites. Many of these sites serve as advertising and lead to the
same commercial site. There are a plethora of free sites that always post the
same pictures, very often from the '70s or known sets that perverted fathers
have done with their children and then published. No sign of an
incomprehensibly large business, let alone of alleged trillion USD of revenues.
Also in the field of Non Nude
Modeling there were sensational reports of sales by millions. Again, I had
direct access behind the scenes. One of the largest operators in 2004 was AMS
or AModelShop. These websites were from Salt
Lake City operated by ... a TV-celebrity called
Matthew Duhamel with his server administrator Charles Graner that had a hosting
company and carried out the operations and billings for the whole Non Nude
Modeling Webmaster. Duhamel produced images of some models himself but he
bought most productions all over the world.
They were mostly girls from 9 to 13
years in sexy, erotic clothes such as Pumps, High Heels, Hot pants, etc. In
case the website of Sierra Model (which ultimately brought down the case
Duhamel) was a pubescent girl whose mother made and offered very provocative
pictures on a site. End users also have ordered specific sets of the daughter
directly from the mother where practically nude pictures were taken in exciting
poses. With the pictures they made good money and even the daughter was so
thrilled that she started skipping school. Thus, the ball got rolling: the
school alerted the authorities, etc. At that time AMS was one of the largest
shops in the area of Non Nude Modeling, and provocative images with the most
customers. The turnover was around 35'000-40'000 USD per month, and generated a
monthly profit of approximately 20,000 USD.
In approx. 2003 and especially 2004,
the business became more difficult to operate. In Germany jugendschutz.net and the
Telemedia Act were created to protect children and adolescents. The first
countries such as Denmark
began to censor sites, hosting providers were immediately alerted and servers
closed. Domain Registrars began to simply close domains - when the contents of
a website was objectionable - despite the fact that the domain was paid for
properly (which I believe to be an outrageous breach of the law because the
domain registrar closed domains on its sole discretion and without judicial
order and proper proof even when they did not contain any illegal material -
one of the worst is GoDaddy.com). Many countries have introduced laws which
made such sites illegal. The result was that more and more such sites went into
Back in 2000 in Russia there
was a forum called DARKMASTERS (earlier darkmasters.com, then darkmasters.info)
where all parties involved in the porn shops did business with each other. You
have to treat this as a marketplace where anyone could offer his/her services.
In the course of that time all those involved in the Russian Internet business
got there together. It does not matter what kind of business one was involved
in, everything was welcome. Of adult porn to animal and child porn, everything
was sold and marketed on this platform. Everyone offered their services:
photographers, webmasters, programmers, designers and job applicants.
groups such as the so-called Lolita webmasters were ostracized by the Adult
Webmasters - there were conflicts. Since pornography is illegal in Russia and all
Eastern Bloc countries, it played no role in whether you are only little bit
illegal or a little bit more. Over the years, a combination of individual
skills took place. Due to the increasing problems caused by censorship,
hosting, billing and marketing, the various groups became more specialized and
began working together. The best programmers and server administrators from Eastern Europe came together, mixed with the best
document falsifiers, Carders (credit card fraud specialist), spammers and
hackers who wrote and distributed the rootkits, viruses and trojans for years.
And for special cases, the Russian organized crime was called to help in
exceptional cases where one wanted the authorities to be more active to push an
unwanted competitor out of the way, or to kill an idiot who couldn't keep their
mouth shut. Even if the reality between webmasters was sometimes very
dangerous, I was not aware of any violence against children and adolescents.
During the years this combination
of skills has resulted in the most ingenious schemes I have ever seen in my
life. It is beyond the skills of BKA, FBI, and certainly politicians who don't
even know of such systems, let alone understand them. It is outrageous naiveté
with which politicians speak of things of which they do not have the slightest
clue. All the more frightening, however, is how much they use child pornography
as a tool to write headlines and create populist slogans and as a means to
justify more monitoring even though it is clear that the system established
will very quickly be used for very different purposes than (unsuccessful) child
Among the operators, there are two types: those mostly from Western
Europe and North America are caught relatively
quickly because they don't have the slightest clue. These are the people who
appear in big headlines when they are caught. But there are, however, other
varieties comprising the best-trained server administrators, programmers and
hackers. There is a direct collaboration between programmers who write the
special Trojans and rootkits, hackers who command the Bot Nets and infected
computers (zombies) as well as spammers who send their mail via the Bot Nets of
The technology of today:
An essential part of today's commercial child pornography is now hosted in Germany and distributed from Germany. If
this is for you a shock, then I will explain how this works, and the
authorities can do absolutely nothing except for the stupid ideas people muck:
Today's schemes are technologically very demanding and extremely complex.
It starts with the renting of computer servers in several countries. First the
Carders are active to obtain the credit cards and client identities wrongfully.
These data are then passed to the falsifiers who manufacture wonderful official
documents so that they can be used to identify one self. These identities and
credit card infos are then sold as credit card kits to operators.
There is still
an alternative where no credit card is needed: in the U.S. one can
buy so-called Visa or MasterCard gift cards. However, these with a certain
amount of money charged Visa or MasterCard cards usually only usable in the U.S... Since
this anonymous gift cards to buy, these are used to over the Internet with fake
identities to pay. Using a false identity and well-functioning credit card
servers are then rented and domains purchased as an existing, unsuspecting
person. Most of the time an ID is required and in that case they will simply
send a forged document.
There is yet another alternative: a payment system
called WebMoney (webmoney.ru) that is in Eastern Europe as widespread as PayPal
in Western Europe. Again, accounts are opened
with false identities. Then the business is very simple in Eastern
Europe: one buys domains and rents servers via WebMoney and uses
it to pay.
As soon as the server is available, a qualified server admin connects to it
via a chain of servers in various countries with the help of SSH on the new
server. Today complete partitions are encrypted with TrueCrypt and all of the
operating system logs are turned off. Because people consider the servers in Germany very
reliable, fast and inexpensive, these are usually configured as HIDDEN CONTENT
In other words, all the illegal files such as pictures, videos, etc.
are uploaded on these servers - naturally via various proxies (and since you
are still wondering what these proxies can be - I'll explain that later). These
servers are using firewalls, completely sealed and made inaccessible except by
a few servers all over the world - so-called PROXY SERVERs or FORWARD SERVERs.
If the server is shut down or Someone logs in from the console, the TrueCrypt
partition is unmounted.
Just as was done on the content servers, logs are
turned off and TrueCrypt is installed on the so-called proxy servers or forward
servers. The Russians have developed very clever software that can be used as a
proxy server (in addition to the possibilities of SSL tunneling and IP
Forwarding). These proxy servers accept incoming connections from the retail
customers and route them to the content Servers in Germany - COMPLETELY ANONYMOUSLY
The communication link can even be configured to be
encrypted. Result: the server in Germany ATTRACTS NO ATTENTION AND STAYS
COMPLETELY ANONYMOUS because its IP is not used by anyone except for the proxy
server that uses it to route the traffic back and forth through a tunnel -
using similar technology as is used with large enterprise VPNs. I stress that
these proxy servers are everywhere in the world and only consume a lot of
traffic, have no special demands, and above all are completely empty.
Networks of servers around the world are also used at the DNS level. The
DNS has many special features: the refresh times have a TTL (Time To Live) of
approximately 10 minutes; the entries usually have multiple IP entries in the
round robin procedure at each request and rotate the visitor to any of the
forward proxy servers. But what is special are the different zones of the DNS
linked with extensive GeoIP databases ... Way, there are pedophiles in
authorities and hosting providers, allowing the Russian server administrators
access to valuable information about IP blocks etc. that can be used in conjunction
with the DNS.
Each one who has little technical knowledge will understand the
importance and implications of this... But what I have to report to you is much
more significant than this, and maybe they will finally understand to what
extent the public is cheated by the greedy politicians who CANNOT DO ANYTHING
against child pornography but use it as a means to justify total monitoring.
But how, specifically, child pornography is sold? As the operators cannot
resort to door to door knocking and market their sites this way, they had to
work out other ways to sell. There used to be links in forums, top list,
advertisements in newsgroups, etc. Today, the answer is SPAM. The revenue from
the child porn business are divided into 40-60% for the payment processor and
the bank (percentage rate will depend on how hard the material is), 20% of the
operator and 20% of the marketers (in this case, spammers).
millions of email addresses of interested people - the lists of earlier payment
processors they have. But hackers have also obtained huge client lists of large
companies and sold the email addresses to spammers. In order to send spam
trojan-infected (zombie) computers are used. But zombie computers have yet
another use: it will be used in a targeted fashion to steal identities. They
even use the computer of the user whose identity is stolen to conduct credible
transactions such as purchase of domains, etc. But that is not everything; the
installed Trojans are sometimes used as a SOCKS proxy to upload CP.
Russians have even worked out a schema to use infected computer as a network
combing these infected computers (each computer would be part of a huge,
redundant cluster) as a kind of huge, distributed and remote servers can be (a
kind of Freenet Project, however, by using infected computers as the nodes). I
want to make one thing clear: if you have an email address, there is a
possibility that there is child pornography on your computer because you have
received CP advertising. And if your computer is not 100% safe against Trojans,
viruses and rootkits, there is the possibility that your computer is part of
the vast child pornography network.
Same as for the content servers, logging is turned off on the proxy and
forwarding servers, residing in Truecrypt containers. The Russians have
developed very clever software for proxy servers (in addition to the
possibility of SSL tunneling and IP Forwarding). This proxy accepts incoming
connections from the customers which are then tunneled to the Content Server in
- completely anonymous and unidentifiable. The link can even be configured for
Result: the server in Germany NEVER APPEARS PUBLICALLY AND STAYS
completely anonymously because he never appears with its IP except to the proxy
servers that are configured to send the traffic back and forth like through a
tunnel - using similar technology like large enterprise VPNs. I stress that
this proxy servers are installed everywhere in the world and only consume a lot
of traffic, have no special demands, and above all are completely unused.
At the DNS level there also is a network of servers around the world. The
DNS has many special features: the refresh times have a TTL (Time To Live) of
approximately 10 minutes, the entries usually have multiple IP entries in a
round robin procedure, and at each request rotates the visitor to any of the
forward proxy server. But the real specials are the different zones of the DNS
with extensive GeoIP databases linked to it ... Also, there are pedophiles in
authorities and hosting providers, allowing the Russians server administrators
access to valuable information about IP blocks that was built into the DNS
For everyone with a little technical knowledge it is extremely important
to understand the implications of this... But what I will have to report is
much more significant than this, and maybe they will finally say to what extent
the public is being twitted and cheated by the greedy politicians against child
pornography that can not do anything about it, but make into the means to an
end, justifying State surveillance.
But how, specifically, is child pornography sold? As the operator cant go
knocking door to door and these sites cannot be readily sold, other means had
to be worked out ways to sell. There used to be links in forums, toplists,
advertisements in newsgroups, etc. Today, the answer is SPAM. The revenue from
the child porn business are divided into 40-60% of the payment processor and
the bank (percentage rate will depend on our hard the material is), 20% of the
operator and 20% of the known candidates (in this case, spammers).
dispose of millions of email addresses of interested people - the lists are
compiled also of earlier payment processings. But hackers have also had a huge
client list of large companies of interest and sold the email addresses to
spammers. In order to send spam, computers infected by trojans (zombie) are
used. But zombie computers have yet another use: whole identities are
targetedly stolen by hackers. They even use the computer of the user with the
stolen identity to move credibility in respect to the perpetration of criminal
transactions such as purchase of domains, etc. But that is not everything: the
installed Trojans are sometimes used for his computer as a SOCKS proxy to use
for upload of child pornography.
The Russians have even worked out how to use
schemes of infected computer in a network and can combine these computers (each
computer would be part of a huge, redundant cluster) that can be used as kind
of a huge, distributed and remote server network (a kind of Freenet Project,
however, by making use o the infected computers through Trojans nodes). I want
to make one thing clear: if they have an email address, there is a possibility
that there is child pornography on the computer because the owner possesses the
child pornography from the advertising provider, maybe in his spam directory.
And if your computer is not 100% safe against Trojans, viruses and rootkits,
there is the possibility that your computer is part of the vast child
In recent years I have watched as authorities - due to a lack of knowledge
(and motivation) - and judges (due to ignorant shortsightedness) have wrongly
suspected and very often also convicted thousands of people. There were fathers
destroyed, families ruined, and people event committed suicide. Masses of
accused people have even admitted guilt (although innocent) in order to avoid
public humiliation in a court and additional damages resulting from it. One of
the first big stories was the alias of Landslide Operation Ore case.
Allegedly 70,000 users had
purchased child pornography from Landslide. The only ones that were really
pleased were the Russians. Landslide had nothing to do with child pornography.
But because Landslide developed a portal where also money was transferred, the
Russian operators had opened accounts frequently and then tried to sell child
pornography under these accounts.
The manager of Landslide was extremely naive
and did not have enough control over the accounts, payment processing and
fraud. He did not notice that several credit cards were charged more than once,
that client IPs did not match with the issuing bank, etc. - the CEO of
Landslide was himself the victim of a gigantic fraud. The fact is that the CP
operators had made a deal with the Russian Carders who got their credit cards
and identities from the U.S.
mafia (more specific information is given in the accompanying article from PC
Under these CP accounts thousands of scammed and stolen (with the help of
a trojan) credit cards were used so they brought the company Landslide insane
revenues. But they were all stolen credit cards. Since it was already too late
for Landslide and for thousands of innocent people, this meant the end of
family life, loss of employment and even the end of any hope that led to a
subsequent suicide. Much worse is that the U.S. police manipulated the website
of Landslide AFTERWARDS (this is best described in PCPro).
Where and how abuse happens
I have pretty much faced
everything what is happening on the Internet regarding this theme. But the
gruesome images of crying, raped and even tortured children do not come from
commercial producers. They come not from third parties but from bestial fathers
and mothers of the children that do this to them. Most are fathers with
incestuous tendencies who meet in forums and chats. One begins to make and
distribute images, perhaps initially only depicting the naked child - Then, the
masturbating child, then the child being raped, and perhaps the child in a
forced Sadomaso game. Each parent goes always a little further because he/she
always has to offer a little more than the predecessor. In other words, the
violent abuse takes place almost always in the family. By publication of these
pictures they end up in the Internet. Again the Russians collect the material
and publish it on commercial websites.
I see and make a clear
distinction between violent and voluntary even though it may sound outrageous.
But one, who has ever seen the images, can quickly distinguish them. Ever since
child pornography has been exchanged on the Internet, pictures that were the
cruelest have originated from people that belong to the family circle. They
publish the images out of self-promotion and totally free - it is simply an
"outbidding" for the atrocities one can do to their own child. The
Russians fish pretty much everything on the internet and then publish those
images along with images from the 70s into commercial sites. The productions
were made by third parties for commercial purposes (such as the LS Studios
pictures, etc.) are always made voluntarily.
You see the kids grinning a big
fun in front of the camera. I know some of these children are now teenagers or have
even reached the age of majority. Many regret that they no longer can be models
and did not understand why they suddenly no longer were photographed. Even
tougher pictures from St. Petersburg
show girls in their first voluntary sexual experimentation. Also there you can
see that for the girls it is a game and that they had fun. I know that in most
cases the mother was informed and that she allowed the daughter to participate.
Nobody has suffered, no one has been forced and these were free decisions - why
cannot the society simply accept this fact? Even money was not always the
driving force. There were certainly girls from very good homes that had no
shortage of money. But they had a passion for voyeurism, naked posing, etc. at
a very young age (which you can see today with the phenomenon of
"Sexting" where children and young people share very provocative
pictures with each other, according to reports up to 20% of young people make
and share this kind of pictures)
It is first and foremost the
media that writes sensational headlines about child pornography and sexual
abuse. The most qualified clinical psychotherapists know that the public fuss
is often much worse than any actual experience (children and young people are
practically conditioned to be victims even though they have very different
feelings about the experience).
Approx. 15-20% of my female acquaintances had
first sexual experiences at age 11 to 13 years, many of them with a much older
partner. By law, this was absolutely illegal but by her feelings it was
absolutely correct and remained in the best memories. But if such a story was
presented in public, then a victim would be fabricated even though the
"victim" does not perceive herself as such (but he/she MUST feel like
a victim to live up to social norms - which are what the psyche is really made
A now-deceased Belgian psychoanalyst has also analyzed the phenomenon
of so-called White marches and reactions of the public on child abuse. He came
to very interesting results. Could it be that each of us harbours an
unconscious, dark and unbearable desire for the child that one can
"unload" by expressing and projecting anger towards a pedophile
monster? Why is the public so eager to know EVERYTHING about cases of child
abuse? The public leeches every perverse detail of such a story and the
sensational media makes an excellent business.
The most insidious of the whole
subject of child pornography is the public discussion about things the speaker
only has ideas about but has never seen. Each sensationalist presentation is
allowed and there are no limits to it, and these presentations can be abused to
achieve various objectives. It is not acceptable to tackle the issue with facts
without getting charged for a criminal offense in Germany. It is like the ultimate
indictment where no defense is allowed. It can be used for everything and every
In the name of the child
For years, I hear and read how
kids supposedly are so immature. I have worked close to children and youth for
many years and found that children and young people know much better what they
want (or not) as is ascribed to them. The entire discussion concerning
[criminal?] accountability is a testimony to this. In Germany, this
is at 14 years. When one wants to blame children and young people, then they
are never too young to be held responsible. When it comes to the ability to
make sexual decisions, then they are never old enough. This is an incredible
impudence and discrimination in the political debate.
When a child is old enough
to accept responsibility for an offense, then it is also old enough to accept
responsibility for his feelings and his body. What a child needs is a strong
protection against violence. And usually it comes not from strangers and
pedophiles but from parents that are - despite the prohibition of corporal
punishment - quick to use the belt [to beat the child]. The real figure of
beaten and physically abused children in Germany is much higher than that of
any victims of sexual abuse. By the way, you have to really think about the
word abuse. The term abuse cannot exist without the notion of "proper
use". Is there a sexual "proper use" of children and
Child protection has become a
real industry. There are numerous organizations dedicated to the protection of
the child - their administration, programs and staff must be funded - which
means many job opportunities. I am particularly worried about the relationships
between large and politically important global organizations such as the National Center for Missing & Exploited Kids
and fundamentalist-totalitarian-oriented religious groups.
If you visit their
website (www.missingkids.com) there is a CYBERTIPLINE. There is an opportunity
to select a REPORTING CATEGORY. Under "Unsolicited Obscene Material Sent
to a Child", there is a link to www.obscenitycrimes.org. This organization
is, in turn, operated by Morality in Media, Inc. and is an essential partner of
the Center. I quote here a few of the interesting arguments that this
organization wants to spread and enforce (below, I have collected arguments
from various pages in www.obscenitycrimes.org):
- The police must do God's work (IE: the police
becomes the executive branch of the Bible)
- Pornography leads to violence and must be
- Pornography leads to homosexuality and child
- Sexuality in marriage must be regulated
(oral, anal and masturbation are against nature and are punishable)
- Homosexuality should be criminalized
- Adultery must be punishable
- Adulterers are predetermined to abuse
I stop here because otherwise I
would burst with anger and blood thirst. I noticed that these are the same
religious fundamentalists that welcomed cruel punishment on children with rods,
whips, etc. based on Bible verses such as Hebra 12:6-7 or 1 Book of Kings
12:13-14 and 12:18. The Western world hardly has to worry about the Talibans
but more about Christian fundamentalists crawling in through the back door of
The National Center for Missing
& Exploited Kids (NCMEC) is almost globally conducting strong, secret
lobbying activities and has a major influence on virtually all European
governments, including the EU and in particular the UK. This organization is
becoming more and more important and is strongly pushing a political agenda in
Europe, although the organization is located in the U.S. There are interesting articles
on the topic which come up when you search for NCMEC in Google. You will soon
notice the immense power this organization has received - even outside the USA. I am not
afraid of terrorists but of the child protection lobby.
This is much more
ominous, insidious, and is directly linked to the interests of Christian
religious fundamentalists. The NCMEC is, moreover, also intertwined with the
American broadcaster NBC which has broadcasted the series "To Catch a
Predator" - a prime-time show where alleged child abusers are caught in
front of the camera. In the show the police officers impersonate children and
suggest meetings with the adults...
But that's not all. A few months ago,
I stumbled upon a new web site, hosted at DreamHost Web Hosting California. It
showed suggestive images of Masha Allen, a Russian girl adopted by an American
pedophile. Over the years, she was not only his daughter but also his lover.
The photos made rounds around the globe. The father was finally identified and
jailed and the girl was readopted by a woman from Georgia. Masha Allen has massively
greedy lawyers. They have left up this website with suggestive pictures of
They offer the option to purchase a subscription to get access to more
pictures ... Whoever was lured by this stunt, not only received an immediate
visit by the police but also was threatened by a civil action in the American
style - in other words faced multi-million claims so that the person has to
spend rest of their life paying to the lawyers of Masha Allen who charge enormous
fees and give the rest to Masha Allen. A nice business model, isn't it?
But it gets worse: the New York state prosecutor Cuomo has started negotiations
with the private company Media Defender (Anti-P2P Piracy Solutions) in California to look for
people that exchange child pornography via the P2P networks. The aim,
therefore, is to give the task of evidence collection and denunciation of
Internet users to a company in the private sector. According to U.S. law, the company itself is not allowed to
search specifically for child pornography, but this does not bother the U.S. prosecutor
- ultimately it is for a good cause, isn't it? Media Defender is also a company
with strong connections to film and music industry - it is the same company
that pushed the conviction of children downloading music illegally on the
The United States is a respected
democracy that over the years has permitted the use of torture - all this for a
good cause and for the protection of the society. A prison society is growing
quickly and is operated by the private sector. Approximately 2% of the
population is serving a sentence, most of them in a prison. Private prison operators
are even traded on the stock market and they are known to be very profitable
and sustainable as more and more prisons are built and more and more people are
put into prison (the amount of people in prison increases each year by 4%).
"Producing" convicted criminals HAS BECOME A HIGHLY PROFITABLE
INDUSTRY and more and more criminals have to be produced so that the money
There are credible rumors of bribes from operators of the prison
to the judges and prosecutors - they pay premiums for so-called new convictions
that result in a prison stay. So you don't have to be so picky in any
investigation, let alone employ qualified officers - this way there is always
sufficient supply of people to put in prison - AND ESPECIALLY YOU HAVE TO
CRIMINALIZE A LOT OF THINGS. Now, at this point, the reader should pause and do
a little reflection on their part, and let this go once more through their
brain. Beautiful, great democracy. SOURCE: http://www.reuters.com/article/bondsNews/idUSN0727506220071007
And because everything is pushed
in the name of protecting the child, these children and young people feel better.
Or do they? Oh, I forgot to mention something: the laws for the protection of
children and adolescents are now used against them in many countries. Exactly,
you did not misread that. This happens especially in the Anglo-Saxon countries
like the USA and the UK. Children
who discover sexuality are arrested, convicted as pedophiles (!). Young lovers
send pictures in which they wear nothing but underwear or even less - the
so-called SEXTING. If the images end up in the public domain, this usually
becomes disastrous for the youngsters.
There are countless documented cases
where both young people were convicted because of CHILD PORNOGRAPHY. There are
also relations of minors with adults: a 17-year-old girl with an 18-year-old
boy, for example. One such case is known to me from Ohio, where a 15-year-old
girl was arrested and put in the prison because she refused to testify
against her 18-year-old boyfriend so that he could be convicted as a child
abuser (because the parents of the girls have denounced him - he did not fit
the taste of Mom and Dad.
In one comment the parents said it is right that
their daughter is sitting in prison because she did not want to charge his
boyfriend). The laws allegedly made for protection of children and adolescents
are increasingly used to criminalize and control the sexuality of children and
adolescents - with the prosecution used even against the children and young
people themselves. Interestingly, we come again to my earlier observation:
children and young people are good enough to be punished, even convicted. But
sexually they are totally immature and dumb. SOURCE: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28679588/
In Great Britain the situation is not
much better. Based on the theory that abuse victims become abusers themselves,
the British government launched a database to identify all victims with the
purpose of putting such persons under monitoring because they are under general
suspicion, as former victims of abuse sometimes become abusers. The victims are
now suspects themselves and are monitored as potential criminals. Since the end
of 2008 there is (again) a new database with the purpose of collecting
information about every child in the UK and their development in order
to observe signs of abuse. I wonder just how long it will take until one of
these databases leaks somewhere, or even gets lost in traffic - as has already
happened with other UK
databases. Should such a database fall into the hands of the Russians, they
would again have solid content for new websites.
The reality of
filtering and censorship based on my descriptions so far
it should be clear to anyone sensible reading this that filtering and
censorship make absolutely no sense. The Russians are well-informed about
countries such as Denmark
and know which sites are on the blacklists and how the filtering systems work.
A few weeks ago, a strictly secret blocking list appeared on the Internet at: http://scusiblog.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/dkfichse_15012009txt.sorted
It is the blacklist of 15 January
2009 from Denmark.
As you can see, these lists are very confidential ... If you are looking for
child pornography, you should send the Danish police a thank-you letter for the
hot tips. But what is immediately obvious is that this list does not contain
only illegal child pornography sites. I have not, of course, checked all
domains. Most of these have been defunct since times immemorial (but they are
still listed - this will surely make next owner of the domain happy if the
domain is ever purchased again). It is worth noting that some sites with
flat-chested adult models are blocked. Even some gay sites are listed, or sites
that have adult models that look young (even sites participating in a
proof-of-age program and operating within the EU).
I wonder, therefore, on what
legal basis these adult sites with verifiably adult (but young-looking) models
are put on the blacklist and even more how the discrimination of these models
as adults is justified. Since it is not justifiable, only mendacious arguments
can be used: A job for the anti-constitutional Mrs. von der Leyen, Mr.
Schaeuble or Schünemann. They use the tax money for this purpose and to pay
themselves big fat pensions in the future.
As I have written so far, the whole promotion of child pornography is done
via spam (or published list of domains blocked by the police :-). The spam
mails sometimes also come with images. Even if you do not read the emails and
everything ends up in junk folders there is still the possibility that child
pornography images are saved on the hard drive.
A different situation is when
the computer has become infected and is a zombie - then all doors are, so to
speak, open and the computer can even be used for the active dissemination of
child pornography. Those who buy child pornography find links in the spam ads -
most of them will lead to portals. On these portals, but also in forums and
newsgroups, there will be advertisements for security solutions that enable you
to evade tracing AND FILTERING.
There are commercial offerings for foreign,
uncensored DNS servers but also for VPN solutions (e.g. www.strongvpn.com). In
these VPN solutions an encrypted tunnel is established between the client and a
server without logs, and under a false identity somewhere in the world - the
connection may even go through more countries.
Even if the (impossible)
suggestion of Mr. Schünemann was implemented, there would be absolutely simple
methods to circumvent it. Since Server 2008 Microsoft came out, there is
virtualization. There are commercial offers where no child pornography is
actually bought but a virtual workstation is a leased on which there is a great
gift: a workstation full of videos and files ...
The connection can be
established very quietly via Windows Remote Desktop or VNC. No files are transmitted
between the computer of the customer and the server - only keyboard commands
and screen content - usually in encrypted form and without the slightest trace
about what you have viewed. Since the screen of a computer located e.g. in Russia can be displayed on a PC in Germany, the
customer will automatically bypass any filtering, censorship and surveillance
by the German government.
Well, the distributors of child pornography can even
calmly sell virtual machines - against which Visa and MasterCard certainly will
have nothing ... When the customer then connects to the virtual computer, he
finds a nice file that is nothing else than a TrueCrypt Container for which he
also received the password to open it. The container can also calmly sit on his
home computer after transfer and because nobody knows what it is, he remains
just a user like millions of others.
The Russians have been producing complete
solutions for about 4 years. In this case the business will not run dry. But
the German government will spend the money of taxpayers and the economy for the
irrational and expensive systems.
If you still haven't noticed: Technology is not the solution to child
pornography. No filters, no censorship and no total monitoring can change this.
Effective preventive measures
To find prevention measures you
should finally throw moralities out of the window and think about this
question: WHY IS CHILD PORNOGRAPHY CONSUMED?
I have 10 years of experience
with the topic; I have talked with incredibly many people about it. What comes
out is that about 1% of men have strong pedophile (pre-puberty children) or
ephebophile (pubertal children and adolescents) fantasies that do not allow for
a normal life because they have clear sexual preferences.
Many report to me
being even sexually disgusted by adults even if they are otherwise socially
fully integrated. Moreover, up to 29% men (depends on the culture) have
occasional fantasies about young people. These fantasies never come up and the
people usually lead a normal, inconspicuous life. It is not entirely
coincidental that films like "Confessions of a Sixth Form Girl"
[original: "Schulmaedchenreport"], etc. were extremely successful...
The sexuality belongs to the
psychological basic needs according to Maslow. I don't consider pedophilia and
especially ephebophilia a disease but simply a sexual preference - this is
controversial because my opinion is still shared by only a few scientists (but
that was a few decades ago the case with homosexuality - whose prosecution did
not have an effect, did it?).
However, I have the advantage to know of the
intimate lives of many pedophiles. Many of them have come into conflict with
the law (which is almost inevitable with the current legal situation) and were
sentenced to compulsory treatment. I AM NOT AWARE OF A SINGLE CASE WHERE A
PEDOPHILE WAS HEALED AS A RESULT OF THERAPY (and I can assure you that I know
of incredibly many).
The only thing that has been achieved for some pedophiles
is a postponement of the target age to which they felt attracted. Pedophiles
often report that they attach their interest in younger children to stressful
situations. Good stress management causes the pedophile's target age to go up a
Just as earlier with homosexuals, many have integrated into society,
married, discreetly, and have sometimes even children they love and never
abuse. Most live a deceptive double life, suffering from permanent fear for
one's existence that their sexual orientation could be detected. If discovered,
they could lose everything in an instant.
They suffer more or less severe
depression because they have to hide it from the society to survive. Instincts
always win, sooner or later. Whether you travel to Cambodia, have a CP archive or have
an affair with the daughter of the neighbors: it is constantly a Russian
roulette which a pedophile can hardly escape.
The question we should ask is:
what kind of a decent life can the society provide for the pedophiles? It is a
mistake to believe that pedophiles are monsters. If one is heterosexual, he
does not fall for every woman. One is also not in love with every woman.
man does not rape every man he sees on the street. It is similar for the pedophiles;
they do not feel attracted by every child and even find children sometimes
antipathic. The media is world-class in undifferentiating reports. People like
Dutroux are considered pedophiles even though I see him rather as a dangerous
psychopath who targets not only children but also young women. Representatives
of child protection organizations want to make us believe that pedophiles have
a power problem with adult women.
Although this part is quite possible (that
pedophiles unconsciously fear adults and children are safe and therefore
preferred), I've found out with a large number of pedophiles that they have an
absolute REVULSION against adult women. They have also often a collection-,
enforcement- or control-related obsessions. Then there are those with a Lolita
complex, a strong attraction to virginity and innocence (often happens when
people have been brought up religiously strict with strong repression of
sexuality, they idealize chastity and usually have a violent, authoritarian
So, what kind of life options
does the society provide for a pedophile? The ostracism, stigma and castration
for life with permanent GPS monitoring? Perhaps a new Auschwitz
with gas chambers should be built for the pedophiles to get rid of them? It is
a little brutal, but death by syringe sounds much better. Perhaps even life-long
detention in prison, or encouragement of psychiatry at the Swiss Dignitas
just to report a dignified failure at a high price tag [very unsure of
translation]. Today, there are no decent living perspectives for a pedophile.
To lead a happy life pedophiles CAN AND MUST BE CRIMINALS.
If you want to reduce abuse and
child pornography, you must start at the right place: major funds must finally
be put in the research flow in order to offer for pedophiles a hope for a
decent life (among others in the preference structure education [?] whose
understanding is essential for any sexual preference).
There must be radical
work on stigma. No one will show his true sexual orientation if this can lead
to the loss of what he loves and possibly possesses in life. Under such circumstances
it is rather a laborious double life to live until he one day perhaps makes a
mistake and everything goes public.
Pedophiles have been reported to me that
they have visited doctors to ask for advice. Some were thrown away and never
again asked to appear to their family doctor that had known them for years. I
do not know how these doctors and psychotherapists understand the Hippocratic
oath but it clearly shows how strong the stigma is. Media and authorities do
much to targetedly support this stigma and to tear this theme in a populistic
fashion. In Anglo-Saxon countries sexual offenders are only permitted to live
in certain areas that are always getting smaller.
Many cannot even live in an
apartment because of the laws. And thanks to publicly searchable databases,
when they live somewhere the entire neighborhood is soon filled with posters
and warnings about these sinners so he is automatically ostracized and no
longer can make connections there. Often, he will then fall victim to violence,
"group lynching trials", that often does not reach the true
offenders... [assumed to mean the consumers of CP, not the bad parents who
produce the worst stuff]
Pedophiles come from all social strata;
there are workers, unemployed people, clerks, technicians, teachers,
headmasters, lawyers, doctors, artists and judges. They are found mostly in
sectors with children and young people where they usually do unobtrusively
excellent work. It is wrong to accept that pedophilia and Ephebophilia are only
issues of men.
Anyone who has seen child pornography will be surprised how
often there are other adult females in the pictures. Mothers can also have
incestuous affairs pedophile inclinations as much as women may have (many times
mothers have sadistic feelings towards their daughters, especially when they
come into puberty - this also has something to do with the emergence of a rival
Many years ago I knew a case of a remedial teacher which left
her husband because she had a lesbian relationship with a girl from the home.
Later, the girl moved in to the remedial teacher's home and they lived
together. No one can control which sexual preference one develops and sexuality
is a basic drive of human beings.
The question is: if you are heterosexual, how
long would it endure without sexuality? How would you shape your sexuality
if no woman would let you touch them? You have to ask the same question
concerning pedophiles and think about how a pedophile can lead a happy and
The criminalization of child
pornography is one of the most stupid decisions ever made - for various
reasons. First, the costs of prosecution for possession of child pornography
are enormous for the state and often very little results are achieved and after
all nothing can be changed about the actual fact that the crime has been
committed. A friend's home was searched and had all his computers and 4500
video cassettes - on which he for years had recorded movies - taken.
It took 2
years to work through them all and in the process a huge sum of taxpayers'
money was spent FOR ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Because he had recorded TV movies on
the video tapes! Germany
is very rich, making expensive proceedings for child pornography. Put those who
write horror stories and one-sided descriptions in the jail so that it becomes
really expensive to the taxpayer. Germany has enough money, so let's
just do it.
Secondly, it is justified by the
argument that viewing of a child porn picture harms the child. How? The actual
exploitation has happened a long time ago!
Thirdly, by now it should be crystal clear to everyone that child
pornography is the perfect weapon to ruin the lives of people (even those who
are not pedophiles). Many innocent people already saw their existence get
destroyed (one case among many is Landslide).
I hope that soon these cases are
brought before the European Court
for Human Rights in Strasbourg
and that the governments should be held accountable and financially bleed for
the filth they have caused. Many have child pornography on their computers
without knowing it (because of spam, or Trojans used to make the computer a
CP is the perfect means to cause huge problems and social ostracism to
an unpleasant person. And the government (and the child protection lobby) will
use it as THE argument to deceive a totally unsuspecting population (and even
You have seen how the terrorism-argument has been misused.
You can at least collect evidence and come up with counterarguments, etc.
against terrorism. But child pornography is THE WEAPON against which one cannot
give counter-arguments because it is totally illegal to do research in order to
form a clear opinion.
can thus lead to wrongdoings, limit our civil rights and be used to push total
monitoring of citizens. I suspect very strongly that the relevant government
officials have at last dropped the penny. Child pornography can not really be
stopped or the producers and operators cannot really be identified. So we
filter it away so that the general population believes that something has been
In the process the monitoring technology is set up and soon used for
other purposes. Then it does not take much longer until it is used for the
prosecution of copyright violations and for controlling critical views. We can
also send some love to Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Bundesbahn. To me China is soon more secret than Germany.
The possession of child
pornography should be decriminalized, and only its production and distribution
should remain a criminal offense. Physical violence against a person, no matter
what age, should be drastically and severely punished. From puberty onwards,
should a person be allowed to make voluntary decisions about their body and to
determine freely with whom they want to have a voluntary sexual relationship?
Drawings, stories and other art products should never have been criminalized
because the mind is free, and such products have not harmed individual humans
(I know of a case from New Zealand where in a house search a diary was found
where the person described their sexual fantasies - among them were even
fantasies with minors, and he was ultimately convicted for writing these
descriptions). The whole discussion about clothed model children on the
Internet is totally superfluous.
Many people, mostly poor families, had an
additional revenue source through such Web sites and it provided considerable
help against poverty. Where, I ask kindly, is the difference whether a
pedophile masturbates now in front of a computer, in front of an Otto catalog
[a well-known German clothing store] or thinking about a girl on the beach?
That certainly sounds very immoral to everyone but if one wants to understand
the essence of the problem; you have to finally take on the reality. Everything
else is window dressing and stupid chatter that leads to nothing and completely
misses the target. Why do today's children and teenagers take sexy pictures,
sometimes completely naked - even keenly? Nobody forced them!
They don't earn
money from it. It is exactly what I learned during my talks with Eastern
European girls involved in such productions: many had financial interests.
However, many did so but also because was fun and financial aspects had no
bearing. And many operators simply gave cameras to girls. They made the photos
without the influence of adults. The pictures were then published by the
operator and the money divided. There were no victims but partners, even if the
partners were minors.
Instead of spending more and more
money in irrational censorship, filtering and witch-hunts for possession of
child pornography, this money could be invested in programs that aim to provide
a better future and, above all, a better quality of life and the necessary
education for poor children and young people. This would already eliminate the
families whose motivation is financial.
There will, however, always be the
models posing provocatively as well as a sympathetic families that allow them
to do this. In brief: voluntarily involved children and young people who are
having fun - in my opinion, these are not victims. Those who are violently
forced into things they do not want are the real victims. From puberty onwards,
young people should be allowed to decide about their own feelings and their
This whole discussion about
morality and sexuality is an incredibly stupid thing to which religions have
contributed significantly ... One hears different theories from various
sources. What is actually harmful for children and adolescents? In the U.S., the sight
of a naked human is allegedly harmful to the poor child. Well, in Germany, the
Bravo magazine has for decades reprinted pictures of naked girls and boys for
the purpose of sexual enlightenment. In Germany, there should therefore be
a lot of injured children and adolescents.
When I was child, we went with the
school to collect waste paper. Here we found the most exciting magazines in the
wastepaper... I know very well how this has awakened my interest. On that
account, I was really deeply shocked as a child when I had to go to the butcher
and saw how animals were handled and killed. Until today, this remains a
traumatic experience for me.
Today more and more violence is shown freely and
at the same time people are lobbying about sexual self-control. It is allowed
for everyone to form an opinion about the situation. But it is hardly possible
to form an objective view because the access to information is prohibited by
the Government. I hope that in this sense I have - though perhaps sometimes
with immoral statements - shown another side that so far has remained strictly
confidential. I wish very strongly that I have given enough food for thought.
Without radical rethinking nothing will change.
With kind regards, Mr. X
I was always a curious kid who wanted to learn and
explore. One day while my friend and I were poking around in my garage,
we found a calendar with a topless woman on it. We quickly sneaked it out
of the garage to someplace we could admire it without being caught. I
still remember the excitement that calendar lit up inside me. From then
on, I was on the prowl for anything similar that I could get my hands on.
Those things that I later found came in the form of a Jacques
Cousteau book (sad to admit) and then a treasure trove of Playboy magazines in
my basement. At those times, I’m not sure what was more exciting, the
pictures or the thrill of doing something wrong and trying not to get caught!
All the guilt eventually caught up with me and I asked my mom
about the magazines and if Dad was still an ‘alright’ guy for having
them. Man, was I ever a hypocrite. After a while, my Dad threw away
his stash and guess who scooped up a bunch for his own collection…me of course!
I also remember buying single naked pictures from my friend for
a buck a piece. He would rip them out of his dad’s large collection and
sell them to me and my friend. I remember buying as many as he would
sell. He was very cautious and hesitant and eventually stopped selling
them due to getting caught.
My own stash was stored in a few different places over the
years. I never put them under the mattress, that was such an amateur
move! At first, I would hide them under the carpet inside my
closet. It was perfect because I would move stuff over top and no one
would know. I even cleared out half the closet so I could sit in there
with my flashlight and look at my pictures. At other times I would hide my
magazines in a bunch of auto show literature.
Those were the early days of my pornography addiction.
That first taste lit a desire within me that really took over me for about 20
years. Why do I relay this story? Well, a lot of it has to do with
remembering this stuff today while I mowed the lawn. The other reason is
that I want to show you where I have been and to let you know that you are not
much different than me. Another thing – Do all you can to keep your kids
away from pornography! They eventually will come in contact with it, but
make it much later in life after they learn about what real love is and how to
treat a woman.
Please share your story with us… How did you get exposed to
pornography? What did that do to you?
Anime: The Other Side
By Leigh Seger
Anime and manga,
even the ones for children, aren’t simple minded (Izawa, 1998).
As a busy parent,
you may not have thought twice about the Pokemon toy in your child’s
latest Happy Meal. But Pokemon is often a primer for a child’s entry into the
world of anime, which has a dark and even pornographic side.
A Brief Background
Anime, or Japanese
animation, can be found nearly everywhere in the form of cartoons, movies,
comic books, and video games–and it’s all available online.
Anime is rooted in
Manga, or Japanese comics. Starting as pictures drawn on temple walls, then on
wooden blocks, and then finally published in books, manga became a form of
stories and art. By the early 20 century, manga became the main
form of literature for most of Japanese society.
When animated film-making arrived in Japan,
it had a huge impact. In the
, more than 40% of all domestic films in Japan were animated based on
anime/manga. As these shows grew more and more popular, they caught the
attention of networks in the U.S.
In 1964, NBC syndicated Osamu Tezuka Tetsuwan Atom
as Astro Boy
and it became the highest rated syndicated show on television. Many other
popular shows followed suit, such as Kimba, the White Lion; Marine Boy;
to name a few.
Cause for Concern Anime continues to
grow in popularity for all ages. However, it is imperative to be advised of its
darker side, especially in young people. Because there are numerous genres of
anime, one can move from the typical fairytale to mature adult content very
quickly. The transition to teen-themed anime is a particular concern. This
is a very vulnerable time for many teens, who may identify with the characters
they see: portrayals of being left out, unwanted, not fitting in, or being
does not shy away from sexual content or partial/complete nudity within its
mediums. In Naruto, the main character possesses the ability to
turn into (among other forms) a naked woman and uses this power to distract
Many female anime
characters are drawn seductively with hourglass figures, skimpy clothing, and
pretty faces. The sexual enticement factor within anime imitates real-life
film, providing everything from the innocent to teasingly seductive to hardcore
Violence and death
are prominent in the anime culture. Many distributors of manga and anime
movies and television shows have even had to alter the original Japanese
content to make it appropriate for a more conservative American market. A
simple example of this is the end of a Sailor Moon episode. Two scouts
die in the Japanese version, but in the American version the scouts are trapped
A simple online
search for anime can yield disturbing results. Because many characters look
alike, it is hard for a child to know when they are entering a danger zone.
content of anime or manga may even be considered criminal for American
audiences. Consider the cases of David
, twin brothers who were charged with child pornography for
possessing anime that depicted underage males engaged in sexual activities. Or
the case of Christopher
, an Iowa
man who was charged for possessing manga drawings of children being
legal aspect of anime your child may stumble upon is “fansubs
Usually these are brand-new shows, unlicensed in America, which have been given
English subtitles, translated by fans. Fan subs are widely popular and have
helped promote the popularity of anime, due in part to the audience-tailored
subtitles. Some even feel that fan sub translations are better than those
professionally translated by the companies who originally produced the anime.
However, fansubs are illegal. For the most part, fansubs go
unprosecuted, but there have been lawsuits passed down for violations of
“My 15-year old
daughter started out on a Gaia
and was interested in drawing anime. This turned into ,” or
dressing up like a favorite character. This ultimately led to “anime
pornography, complete with Japanese words for homosexual activities,” says
Natalie, a mother who discovered how online anime and anime-related groups can
quickly become inappropriate.
provides a huge platform for anime fans to express their creativity and to
learn more about the art. You can easily interact through online clubs and
forums, such as Gaia Online
with the ability to customize your own avatar
image to represent yourself in these online communities. But with that comes
the high probability that your kids will be mixing with individuals who may
have a hard time drawing the line on what is acceptable and age-appropriate for
child’s participation in these online groups brings the susceptibility of being
approached by someone with wrong intent. According to a 2011
, 75% of teenagers have been contacted by a stranger via the
Internet, and 23% of teens felt comfortable in making friends with adults
online, which they normally would not do.
All of this serves as
a simple reminder: you may walk by the TV or your kids’ computers and see cute
doe-eyed characters, but are you truly informed about what your children are
Anime: A Parental Primer
As with most things
in life, there are good sides and bad sides. Anime is no different. It is a
wonderful form of art that inspires creativity and imagination. There are
strong themes of loyalty, friendship and good-versus-evil in many anime
cartoons. Kids love anime and parents can use the “good” parts as a vehicle to
have great conversations about life-lessons.
Here is a sampling
of terms to be on the lookout for as you help protect your child’s online and
offline interactions with anime:
Terms and Titles
Kawaii (kah-wah-ee): Cute.
Often used on its own when observing a situation or character having any
distinct level of cuteness.
Shoujo (sho-jo): A girl
or young woman
Shounen (sho-nehn): A boy
or young man
Yaoi (yah-oh-ee): A
male/male relationship, usually of a more sexual and explicit nature than
(sho-nehn ah-ee): A shoujo anime feature in which the plot
concerns a romance between two males. Contains male-male relationships but not
displayed as explicitly as in yaoi
Japanese word for “pervert” and is considered the catchall name for
Magical Girl: Anime
starring a girl with magical powers. Examples: Sailor Moon, Sasami
for the young male, from boys to teens. Examples: Naruto, Ruroni Kenshin,
Basic Categories of Anime
anime shows fall into this category and can contain martial arts action, sword
and sorcery adventures, and battles between giant robots. Examples of these: DragonBall,
DragonBallZ, Black Lagoon, Darker Than Black.
anime are inspired by Japan’s
own past, featuring its history and mythology. Examples: Samurai Champloo,
Samurai 7, Rurouni Kenshin.
revolve around coming-of-age and romantic experiences at school, both negative
and positive. Examples: Ouran
High School Host
Club, Princess Jellyfish.
created as an off-shoot of video games, comics, or other live-action
productions. Examples: Slayers, Devil May Cry, The Dirty Pair.
in this category widely ranged from science-oriented to
space opera (similar to soap opera, with romantic themes). Examples: Cowboy
Bebop, Ergo Proxy.
New film shows the dark connection between sex addiction and sex trafficking
By Luke Gilkerson
I stood before a
less-than-captive audience at the local community college talking about the
subject of pornography. I had been called in as a “special lecturer” for a
required Ethics class to discuss the moral problems associated with porn. In
order to wake the class from their usual slumber, I decided to show a video
testimony of an ex-porn star who unabashedly talks about the debasement and
brutality of the sex industry.
The students woke
up pretty quickly. Many who had never considered that watching pornography was
a moral issue suddenly changed their tune.
That day I learned
a couple things I will never forget. First, when it comes to motivating others,
never underestimate the power of a good story. Today’s filmmakers are modern
day storytellers, and like all storytellers, they have the power to shape our
emotional chemistry and move us to action. Second, one of the easiest ways to
rip off the alluring mask pornography wears is to show how it is vitally
connected to the cruel world of commercial sex.
The Awful Reality of Human Trafficking
is a form of modern day slavery where victims are forced, defrauded, or coerced
into labor or sexual service. “The victims of modern slavery have many faces,”
said President Barack Obama in last year’s Trafficking
in Persons report
. “They are men and women, adults and children. Yet,
all are denied basic human dignity and freedom…All too often suffering from
horrible physical and sexual abuse; it is hard for them to imagine that there
might be a place of refuge.”
- Globally, human trafficking is a $32-billion
business, making it the second most lucrative crime in the world (after
- Trafficking does not necessarily involve transporting
victims over national lines, although about 800,000 victims are trafficked
this way every year.
- In the U.S., over a quarter of a
million American kids fall victim to commercial sexual exploitation each
year. This outnumbers international victims in the U.S. 11 to 1.
For many victims of
human trafficking in general, sexual assault and violence is commonplace. But
for other victims of trafficking, prostitution or sex slavery is the very
reason they are bought and sold. This is known as sex trafficking, and it is a
global reality. From the sex tourism of India
and Cambodia to the
underground prostitution rings of Eastern Europe and the United States,
the total market value of the sex trade is $28 billion.
The Porn Connection: Supply and Demand
Sex trafficking is
the big tip of a very ugly iceberg, but what does pornography have to do with
former Senior Advisor on Trafficking in Persons for the U.S. State Department,
thinks there is a vital connection. “Pornography is a brilliant social
marketing campaign for commercial sexual exploitation,” she
. No, not all or even most pornography is created by traffickers. But a
key ingredient to commercial sex is the belief that people (women especially)
are sexual commodities, and Internet pornography is the ideal vehicle to teach
and train this belief.
Porn drives demand
for trafficking. It creates the appetite. “It drives people to the place where
they become comfortable with commercial sex,” says
, Vice President of pureHOPE. Of course, not all porn consumers
endorse human trafficking, but by their actions, they do tacitly endorse the
objectification of women and the commodifying of sex.
trafficking, according to Ms. Lederer, means not only fighting it on the supply
side—demanding better laws, better law enforcement, and putting systems in
place to rescue and rehabilitate victims—but also on the demand side.
As a society, we must fight the venomous ideas that feed the demand for
commercial sex. Those concerned about trafficking must fight any form of sexual
exploitation and objectification wherever it is found.
“We will never have
success in eradicating sex trafficking,” says Ms. Lederer, “unless and until we
tackle the cultural messages of pornography and related materials that are
encouraging this exploitation and abuse.” Media has the power to shape culture,
and the choice before each and every consumer is what kind of media they will
endorse, the values they want their culture to embrace. When media sanctions
the belief that it is normal—even natural—for men to use and abuse women, that
women are only worth the sexual pleasure they give to men, then it works like a
poison in the culture. In pornography, this message comes through loud and
clear. Therefore, by consuming pornography we allow that poison to infect us,
spread further into our culture, and dampen the voice of justice.
10 Seconds: Showing the Demand Side
believes it is high time for anti-porn and anti-trafficking advocates to ally
themselves under the banner of fighting sexual exploitation. And just as
commercial sex is promoted by pornographic media; those who want to combat it
must have their own social marketing campaign, their own media. “We’ve got to
reverse engineer,” says Lederer. And some filmmakers
are fighting fire with fire, making their own media showing the brutality of
commercial sex and trafficking.
that dare to take on this heavy topic typically place either the victims
or the rescuers
at the center of the action. Award-winning short films
like Fields of Mudan
show the brutal, often overly-realistic, life of children
forced into sex slavery. Other full-length blockbusters tend to show the drama
of search-and-rescue. While some films, like Taken
with Liam Neeson, rely
on more Die-Hard-esque action sequences, others like Trade
(starring Kevin Kline) and Holly
Livingston) capture the real grit of sex tourism in densely-populated capitals
like Mexico City and Phnom Penh.
But few films place
the demand side of sex trafficking in the limelight. Who are these men
who go to such lengths to pay for sex? What is their story?
This is exactly
what the new independent film 10
seeks to capture.
Locorriere plays Gilbert Horn, a successful business and family man with a
sinister secret of sex addiction.
On the surface he seems to be living an
admirable life: a thriving executive, personable and friendly, large home,
adorable kids, beautiful wife. What his colleagues and family don’t know is
that he has developed a sexual compulsion that is consuming his mind, even
taking him to the doorsteps of an underground brothel tucked away on the
fringes of his own community.
The short film does
not give us the back-story on Gilbert’s life. The audience doesn’t find out
what brought him to this point, but we are given some clues. Gilbert’s fantasy
life, driven in part by pornography, has spiraled out of control. The film
offers viewers a snapshot of the darkest moments of his addiction, the series
of events where his secrets are unraveled.
In a parallel
fashion, the film also follows a small group of young girls who have been
trafficked internationally to suburban America. By the end of the film,
viewers are brought to a disquieting climax as Gilbert’s addiction intersects
with the lives of these young girls.
10 Seconds is raw
and at times difficult to watch. While it does not soft-pedal Gilbert’s sexual
rage, it tells a compelling story without titillating the audience. For someone
who has struggled to control a porn habit, the movie will offer a
knot-in-your-stomach portrait of what happens to a man when his lust has taken
Using Film to Teach
Many films show the
atrocious realities behind sex trafficking. Below are a few good examples. Read
more comprehensive lists at Love146.org
Examines the buyer demand for sex in the U.S.,
Japan, Jamaica, and the Netherlands
– Called a “sex trade fairytale,” a short fantasy film that
aims to fuel the growing anti-slavery movement in Atlanta, Georgia
Cargo: Innocence Lost
Examines the shrouded crime of sex trafficking in the U.S. through
compelling interviews with some of the country’s top officials
candid look at the exploitation of children and how America is a leading contributor to
frank documentary about the problem of the exploitation of children in Atlanta, one of the top
ten cities in the world for child sex trafficking
Turning a Corner
the stories of those involved in fighting the sex trade in Chicago
Explores the problem of child prostitution on the streets of Phoenix
powerful story of one couple’s effort to rescue women from the red light
district in Calcutta
– An Academy Award-winning documentary about the
children who live in the red light district of Calcutta, where their mothers
work as prostitutes
The Day My God Died
feature-length documentary that presents the stories of young girls whose lives
have been shattered by the child sex trade in Bombay
– The story of one girl named Suhana who was trafficked not once,
Call + Response
Examines human trafficking from the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India
– NBC’ Dateline travels with an undercover human
rights group in Cambodia
The Virgin Harvest
emotionally-charged, undercover peek at trafficking in Cambodia and
stories of rescue
Examines the social, economic, and cultural forces behind the trafficking of
girls from rural Burmese villages into Thailand
Bought & Sold
that documents the trafficking in women for forced prostitution out of the
former Soviet Union into Europe, Asia, and the United States
4 Reasons Accountability is Critical for Singles
By Lisa Eldred
“It is not good for man to be alone.”
If you’re at all familiar with this verse, you’re probably used to hearing
it in the context of marriage. Perhaps you’ve heard it in a sermon or during a
And if you’re living in prolonged singleness, perhaps every time you hear
it, you feel somewhat less-than-sufficient for not having somebody. Or maybe
the opposite is true, and you have a sense of smug superiority, and you think
to yourself, “Relationships are for other people. Me? I can do it all on my
But this verse is about more than marriage. Nobody, not even those who
choose singleness, is ever called to do life alone. Jesus always sent the
disciples out in pairs, and Paul always traveled with companions. Or consider
James 5:16, which says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another,
and pray for one another so that you may be healed.”
In reality, we singles need to stick together. Those of us who live alone
are especially vulnerable to temptation simply because there’s nobody there to
walk in on us. So whether our temptations are to watch pornography or to waste
our lives on TV or video games or to wallow in bitterness over our lack of
relationships, accountability is critical for us to continue growing in Christ.
I was struck by this shortly before Thanksgiving. My pastor was preparing
for a sermon on singleness based on 1 Corinthians 7, and he wanted feedback
from some of the single members of the church. Personally, my accountability
partner (another single Christian woman) has been the single most helpful
factor for me over the last year. I’ve become healthier, less bitter, and more
motivated to serve. As I reflected over the last year, I identified four
reasons why accountability has been critical.
1. Accountability reminds us we are not alone.
For those living in prolonged singleness, it’s very easy to fall into the
trap of self-pity and bitterness. This is especially true at Valentine’s Day or
events like weddings or high school reunions. One friend mentioned that at a
wedding she attended recently, there were only two unmarried men, and they both
brought dates. Having an accountability partner of the same gender and
relationship status means that you have someone who understands, and who you
can turn to on those rough days.
2. Accountability keeps us healthy.
Did you know that single
people die younger than married people
? Granted, that statement is a gross
oversimplification – most studies only look at those who have never married in
comparison to those married only once, excluding divorcees and widows. But it
touches on the principle that accountable relationships, be they marriages or
support groups, tend to result in healthier behaviours. Groups like Alcoholics
Anonymous or Weight Watchers are founded on this concept. It also has a
scriptural basis. James 5 says that we are to confess sins to God for
forgiveness, and we are to also confess to each other “that you may be healed.”
I’ve found this particularly true in my own life. My impetus for
accountability was weight loss; my accountability partner and I have each lost
30 pounds over the last year. Others may fall into unhealthy financial
behaviours, spending money on things we desire instead of keeping budgets and
donating to our churches or people in need. Still others of us may be tempted
into sexual sin (either pornography use or sleeping around in pursuit of
relationships). As Covenant Eyes proves daily through our Accountability
software, being held accountable reduces the temptation to fall into such
gluttonous patterns, instead replacing them with healthier behaviours.
3. Accountability keeps us involved. 1 Corinthians 7:32 reminds us that “One who is unmarried is concerned about
the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord.” However, most
singles, when pressed, will confess that they “waste their singleness,” whether
by playing video games or watching TV or becoming married to our job or
obsessing over finding a spouse. Simply put, singles have more free time and
flexibility than married people, but it also means we have more opportunity to
be selfish with our time. Ideally, we need accountability partners who will
encourage us to serve (or better yet, who will serve alongside us). Minimally,
a regular reciprocal conversation with another single will get us involved in
someone else’ story, and remind us that there’s more to life than what we
4. Accountability provides eternal perspective. Often, the aforementioned selfishness with our time is accompanied by a false
humility. This may manifest itself in a belief that because we are unloved,
there is something wrong with us that makes us unlovable. Alternately, we may
believe we are somehow better than others because we don’t need other people in
our lives, unlike those married schmucks. Both of these lead to a lack of trust
in God’s work, either that He can use us in spite of ourselves or that we need
to rely on His provision.
The reality is that, as Galatians 3 states, as Christians “there is neither
Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor
female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” God is at work in all believers,
and an accountability partner will be able to look at your life from outside
and see where He is moving when we can’t see it ourselves.
YouTube: it’s the world’s largest video sharing website. A remarkable 48
hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute—that’s about 8-years of
content uploaded every day. This content is initially unmonitored.
YouTube does have “Community Guidelines
” which specifically state: “YouTube
is not for pornography or sexually explicit content
.” With so many videos
being posted, how do they enforce these Guidelines?
YouTube users themselves are the first line of defence against inappropriate
videos. YouTube.com has enabled users to “flag” videos they deem inappropriate.
When you click the “flag” icon, you have the opportunity to indicate why you
think the video violates the Community Guidelines.
After you flag a video, YouTube staff review it to see if it fails to conform
to the Guidelines. As far as sexual content goes, YouTube stresses,
Most nudity is not allowed, particularly if it is in a sexual context.
Generally if a video is intended to be sexually provocative, it is less likely
to be acceptable for YouTube.
There are exceptions for some educational,
documentary, scientific, and artistic content, but only if that is the sole
purpose of the video and it is not gratuitously graphic. For example, a
documentary on breast cancer would be appropriate, but posting clips out of
context from the documentary might not be.
Porn on YouTube
That being said, there are still thousands of provocative videos on YouTube.
Some never get flagged. Others, even when flagged, do not technically break the
Community Guidelines, so they are allowed to remain on YouTube.
In 2009 the Media Research Center (MRC) examined the volume of softcore
pornography on YouTube. They looked at the most popular search results for the
- Searching the word “porn”
returned more than 330,000 results, many of which were sexually suggestive
in their language and themes.
- There were 157 videos with
more than one million views each found under this search. Two-thirds of
these advertised themselves as being actual pornography.
- Many videos featured clips
from actual porn movies, interviews with porn stars, advertisements for
porn sites, and phone sex lines.
- Profanity was also
commonplace in the titles and comments for the videos.
Child Porn on Canada’s
Internet: shutting down a multibillion dollar market -place Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at
Don Hutchinson in Pornography
Last week, the
Government of Canada introduced Bill
, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child
pornography by persons who provide an Internet service
. Once passed, this
simple piece of legislation is expected to change the landscape (Netscape) of
online child porn. Child pornography is a multi-billion dollar a year industry
and the internet has become its primary market place.
The act requires
internet service providers to report the internet protocol address or burl of
any of their clients about whom they are advised or believe may be hosting
child pornography. They are also required to preserve the evidence of reported
child pornography on their servers for a 21 day period unless required by a
court order to keep it longer.
goes on to protect the internet service provider from lawsuits arising out of
their preservation and disclosure to appropriate authorities of the information
related to the child porn. Failure to report
is a criminal offence.
legislation will move swiftly through the House of Commons and the Senate. In
the protection of children, Bill C-58 will be good companion legislation to
last year’s raising of the age of consent to sexual activity with an adult from
14 years of age to 16 and Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code
(minimum sentences involving trafficking of persons under the age of 18)
which is currently being delayed in the Senate following strong support and
passage in the House of Commons.
From the initial
passage of child
in 1993, through the validation of that legislation
by the Supreme
Court of Canada
in R v Sharpe
in 2001 to the current proposal intended to police internet distribution of
child porn, Canada has extended increasing protection for children against a
crime that was once thought unimaginable. This is a good law. Children deserve the right to be children, protected –
not perverted – by all adults in their life.
My Daughter was Caught By a Predator: A Word of Warning from One Parent to
by Mary Kozakiewicz
On New Year’s Day, 2002, my 13-year-old daughter, Alicia, was lured from our
Pennsylvania home and stolen to Virginia by a man whom
she had been introduced to online. For eight months, this sadistic madman
masqueraded as her friend, grooming my daughter, restructuring her thought
patterns through coercive mind control, and bypassing those core values which
her father and I had laboured to deeply ingrain. A 38-year-old computer
programmer, father to his own 12 year old daughter, held my little girl
captive, chained to the floor by her neck in his basement dungeon as he
repeatedly raped and tortured her. Throughout the entire grooming process, my husband and I were totally
clueless, and therefore helpless to circumvent the unfolding tragedy.
Our Lives Before
The night of Alicia’s abduction was blisteringly cold. Outside of our warm
family home, redolent of holiday fragrance, the winds raged and whipped snowy
ice crystals against the candle-lit windows reflecting our traditional little
two-parent two-child family.
It is captured forever in my mind’s eye, this golden moment in time. We were
happy, secure–and desperately unprepared for what would follow. To the casual
passerby, we would have appeared to be an All-American Norman Rockwell
painting, and certainly, that’s what we felt that we were. As with any family,
our lives were certainly less than perfection but, to this day, I miss the “us”
that we were before January 1, 2002.
Looking back, I treasure my memory of our joined hands; heads bowed in
prayer, as we shared those moments we were most thankful for in the year past,
and our resolutions for the new. These were our last moments of grace.
For, in the passage of these ten years, each of us has been irrevocably
altered, and our lives overshadowed by the event. One does not survive every
parent’s worst nightmare and remain unscathed.
The Nightmare and the Rescue
When Alicia, excusing herself from the dinner table, slipped silently out of
our front door and into oblivion, she carried with her the hopes, dreams, and
the expectations that for each parent begin the moment our children are born.
Hours later, after police reports were made and family members had returned to
their own home, we sat curled in terrified misery as through our suddenly
silent home, the clock’s tick-tick-ticking counted the seconds of our precious
child’s life—and our own—slip-slip-slipping away.
The specialized law enforcement which responded, The Internet Crimes Against
Children Task Force, shared with us in the days that followed that our
daughter’s chance of recovery was perhaps a million to one. It would take a
Nearly hopeless, and brought to our knees, us to our knees by grief and
exhaustion, we began to do the only thing left to us: we prayed. We prayed for
miracles. And they came.
Days, eternities later, Law Enforcement was able to locate the needle in the
haystack that was my daughter, only because the braggart Internet Predator
shared Alicia’s abuse and degradation with his fellow pedophiliac perverts via
streaming online video. Cutting the chains from Alicia’s neck, they returned
her to freedom—and to my arms.
Parents Remain Clueless
A decade’s journey behind us, our family has risen from its knees to wage
war against online sexual abuse and exploitation. Internet crimes against
children have grown exponentially, and no child—or their parents—are safe from
When Alicia was lured and abducted, the Internet was in its infancy. Most
parents, myself included, knew little to nothing of this new technology that
had begun to forever restructure the ways in which humanity would interact with
each other. Unbeknownst to parents, schools had begun teaching our children how
to surf the net, but were neglecting to teach them how to protect themselves
This is not acceptable! Parents must educate themselves to the dangers
their children are encountering each and every time they set their fingers to
the keyboard. The tragedy that Alicia and our family suffered may be
on the extreme end of the spectrum, but the danger that every child is
constantly exposed to every time he or she goes online is no less damaging. The
availability of hardcore porn, which incessantly attacks even the innocent and
unsuspecting children as they surf the web, desensitizes them and endangers
their future ability to maintain decent loving marriages. Indeed, young people
have shared with us their Internet addiction as well as their fear that the
Internet has led them to prey on younger children. So, what can parents do? We can do a lot!
The Sexualization of Our Children
First and foremost, we must acknowledge that, through media, our
children are being sexualized far beyond their ability to cope with
the psychological ramifications. Subsequently, we must cease to hide behind
those psychological defence mechanisms that give a false sense of security.
After Alicia’s recovery, the general public chose to believe that we were
poor parents and to place the blame on our family rather than on the predator.
Thus, they were able to convince themselves that if we were “bad parents” as
compared to their ”good” parenting, then their resultant “good child” was safe.
But quite the opposite is true.
The web is a level playing field for predators. Every child—yes, your little
prince or princess—is vulnerable. Alicia’s abductor initially began the
grooming process by simply being her friend and by giving her seemingly
unconditional love, something that any responsible parent setting boundaries
and enforcing consequences can rarely compete with.
Therefore, as parents we must strive to communicate with our
children in an open and honest manner when discussing the Web and its inherent
dangers. Despite the discomfiture we may feel when discussing sexually
taboo areas with our children, kids need to know that they can confide in us
without our becoming judgmental. Predators will use that same fear and shame as
On the other hand, we must also acknowledge that, as their safety is our
responsibility, nothing should be left to chance. Privacy issues are no
argument when the need for monitoring
We lock our doors and our liquor cabinets. We
surreptitiously sniff their breath for evidence of cigarettes or alcohol.
Logically, if we hold them to geographical boundaries and curfews, we should do
so on the Internet highway as well. Remember: it’s their home, but it’s our
house and our computer. As such, we have the right to monitor usage.
Call your local legislators; ask them
what laws they are endorsing to battle child sexual exploitation. Vote
accordingly. All too often I have been asked whether I suffered from feelings of guilt,
and my answer has been that I do not. I know that I did everything that I could
have to protect Alicia utilizing the information that I had been given at that
But I am a mother, and as parents, we are ultimately responsible, aren’t we?
I would give anything to have known better, to have saved Alicia from that
Consider this your wake-up call, moms and dads. How
will you answer that question?
Table Talk – Conversation Starters About Cyberbullying and Cyberbaiting
by Luke Gilkerson
Using fresh news stories can be a great way for parents to spark discussions
with their kids and teens about how to be a good cyber citizen. “Table
” is a series on Breaking Free, passing along recent headlines about
Internet temptations and dangers. Use the questions provided to get your family
thinking about Internet safety and responsibility.
Teen Kills Herself After Many Hurtful Facebook Comments
Two day after Christmas, 15-year-old Staten Island student Amanda
jumped in front of a city bus, killing herself. Amanda
was reportedly driven over the edge by people who bullied her, both in person
and on Facebook.
“Dealing with bullies in school has always been a problem that high school
students have had to face,” writes
, a junior at Staten
Island Technical School. “However, bullying has recently
expanded its grip on young people through the use of social networking sites. Unlike
the face-to-face bullying that goes on in school, there is no escape from
Cyberbullying after the last bell of the school day rings
Following Amanda’s suicide, a New York Senator, Jeffery Klein, has introduced
that would create harsher penalties for cyberbullies, including
certain kinds of Cyberbullying in current stalking, harassment, and hate crimes
- Do you see people treating
one another in a mean way over Facebook?
- Do you think digital words
can hurt, in a way, more than words said face-to-face? Why?
Cyberbaiting: Teachers Caught on Tape
All you have to do is venture over to YouTube and type “teacher hits
student” or “teacher flipping out” or “teacher yelling at student” and you will
find a long list of cell phone videos shot by students from the comfort of
their desks. It’s called “Cyberbaiting,” when students irritate a teacher until
the teacher starts to lose it, and someone in the classroom catches the whole
thing on video.
According to a report
, more than 1 in 5 teachers say they have had
personally experienced or know another teacher who has experienced Cyberbaiting
Beyond just Cyberbaiting, schools recognize the liabilities of cell phones
in the classroom. According to a
study from Pew Internet
, more than 6 out of 10 teens (62%) say they are
allowed to have a cell phone at school but not in class, and another quarter of
teens (24%) say they are not allowed to have cell phones at school at all.
Despite these restrictions, 87% of teens who aren’t allowed phones in class
still take their phones to school with them several times a week or every day.
- Do you see cell phones in
school a lot? How often?
- Do you think it is
appropriate for students to bait teachers this way? What about just
catching a teacher on film getting angry?
Young Adults Prefer the Internet to Driving
In a survey that will be published later this year, Gartner
Research found46% of 18-24-year-olds would choose access to the
Internet over access to their own car
. The survey also found only 15%
of baby boomers would say the same. In general, teens drive less overall today
than they did in past generations, Gartner Research found.
Thilo Koslowski, lead automotive analyst for Gartner, commented that mobile
devices “offer a degree of freedom and social reach that previously only the
automobile offered.” Koslowski
, “The iPhone is the Ford Mustang of today.”
- If you had to choose
between access to the Internet and access to a car, which would you
- Why do you think so many
young adults would choose the Internet over their own car?
“He’s so useless, if he had a third hand he would need a third pocket to put
This is how some Covenant Eyes members feel about their Accountability
Partners. As I glance through e-mails and comments from our members, it is
clear some don’t feel their Partner is really up to the task.
What do you want from your Accountability Partner?
Of course, some people don’t want a super-vigilant Accountability
Partner. Earlier last year I sent out a survey to our blog readers
about why they value having the Covenant Eyes Accountability program on their
computers and cell phones. I asked our users to give a number rating on a scale
of 1 to 10:
- 1 = “I rarely or never have
conversations with my Accountability Partner(s) about my Accountability
Report. I just like knowing I’m being watched.”
- 10 = “I have regular
conversations with my Accountability Partner(s), and we often talk about
my Accountability Report, even when the report looks good.”
I was surprised by the results. Over half (53%) of the people said 1, 2, or
3. Only 20% said 7, 8, 9, or 10. It seems, even for our regular readers, the thing many of them value about
Internet Accountability is just the knowledge that someone is watching them.
They aren’t necessarily looking for a proactive Partner to help keep them in
Still there are others who want more.
In a recent comment,
said there are three reasons why his Accountability Partner is falling short:
- His Partner does not
show due diligence: he doesn’t read each Report and offer some
specific comments on each one.
- His Partner is not
timely: he doesn’t offer feedback until he has multiple Reports and
is playing catch-up.
- His Partner is not
alert to the whole Report: he doesn’t look at the “grey areas” on the
Report—not just the Highly Mature sites but others that could be
Setting Expectations: 7 Tips
Before you fire you Accountability Partner, you may need to have a
talk about expectations.
- Tell your Partner
to how often you think they should get the Accountability Report.
They can get your Reports delivered to them once every three days, once a
week, or once every two weeks. Tell them which frequency you think is best
based on your Internet surfing habits. Your Accountability Partner can change
this Report setting on our website.
- Tell your Partner
which sensitivity level is best for your Accountability Reports.
Your Partner can choose a Report
Sensitivity Level, giving them a choice about what web ratings they
want to see on each Report. Are you only concerned about visiting porn
sites? Then the HM (Highly Mature) setting is probably right for your
Reports. Are you also concerned about other sites that might provoke lust
(lingerie sites, crude humour, video sharing sites, dating sites, etc.)?
Then the M (Mature) or MT (Mature Teen) settings might be better. Your
Partner can also change this setting on our
- Tell your Partner
to pay close attention to sites with high ratings. Your Partner
can get a glance of some of the highest ratings by going to the “High
Ratings per Site” module on the Accountability
Report. Often page titles will appear which should give your Partner a
better idea about a questionable site. If page titles don’t appear, have
your Partner look for questionable words in the web address, if there are
any. Your Partner can learn more about how to read the Report here.
- Tell your Partner
what times of day or night he/she should look out for. If you
don’t think you should be online at 1:00 a.m., tell your Partner that. Each
time a website is accessed, the time it was accessed will also appear on
the Accountability Report. To get a general overview of this, tell you
Partner to go to the “Average Hourly Usage” module on the Report. They’ll
see a graph showing the times of day in percentages when the Internet was
- Tell your Partner
about any “grey areas” he/she should be looking out for. You know
where you get into the most trouble. Is it Facebook? Chat sites? Photo
sharing? YouTube? Talk to your Partner about those sites and make sure
they keep an eye out for them on the Report.
- Tell your Partner
to ask you about any questionable web searches. On every Report
you can choose to see the “Web Searches” module which gives a list of all
the highly rated searches you did. Tell your Partner to always pay close
attention to this section and ask you specifically about any questionable
- Tell your Partner
how often and under what circumstances you expect them to talk to you
about your Report. Do you want to hear from your Partner right
after he/she sees the Report? Tell them that. Do you only want them to
talk to you after a questionable Report, or even when the Report looks
good? Tell them that. When they contact you, do you prefer they drop you
an e-mail, call you, or talk to you in person? Tell them that. Setting
these expectation will really help them do their job better.
Is the iPad the Real American Idol?
by Dan Lohrmann
I gave my wife Priscilla an iPad for
Christmas this year and life will never be quite the same in the Lohrmann
household. Yes, she’s owned (and regularly used) desktops, laptops, cellphones
and more over the past decade, but this is different—very different. Allow me
After plenty of research, we decided to buy the iPad 2 WiFi + 3G version, so
she could use it easily on the road. Now, she always has it with her. Whether
playing music, reading the Bible (at home or in church), visiting friends,
driving my daughter back to college (from central Michigan
writing her grocery list or looking for a dinner recipe, she’s discovered the
meaning of the popular phrase: “There’s an app for that.”
To say that she really likes her iPad would be a vast understatement—like
saying Mount Everest is a tall hill.
At work, a similar transformation is occurring. Since the early days of
working with (Michigan)
Governor Snyder’s transition team in 2010, it was clear that iPads were more
than a cool new fad; they were the “new normal” in government. Over the past
year, I’ve seen the same trend nationwide with businesses, university students,
and more jumping on the bandwagon. In fact, the explosion of tablet PCs
(including the Kindle Fire and Droid-enabled versions) is starting to create
that paperless office we’ve been talking about for decades—with e-books and
helpful applications for just about every possible activity.
Meanwhile, the content being offered to us is changing as well. New
applications, websites, videos, music and attractive services from Google,
Facebook, Twitter and new start-up companies continue to raise expectations and
possibilities. The dream of any data on any device at anytime from anywhere is
slowly becoming a reality.
Context on Virtual Change
As a Chief Security Officer (CSO) for a large enterprise, my team is trying
to come to grips with this new world with smartphones, tablet PCs, cloud
computing and always-changing technology that is being “enhanced” just as we
figure out the previous version. We’re not alone, and the challenges from the
“consumerization of IT” can be seen annually at the Consumer Electronics Show
in Las Vegas.
Amazingly, technology company
names are becoming new verbs all over the place with “googling” and “skyping”
now a way of life for all of us.
No, this is not an advertisement for Apple or Google or Microsoft or any
other technology company. Nor am I setting you up for a big “BUT BE WARNED” or
The reality is that I love using state-of-the-art technology, and for the
most part, new tech tools and toys have been very helpful in my life. I’ve been
a technophile than a Luddite
” on a few occasions, and I admit that this is
true. Like my wife, I have an iPad + blackberry + laptop for government work.
While seldom on Facebook, I regularly update my LinkedIn account. I find
learning about paradigm-shifting advances in cyberspace to be intriguing, fun,
efficient, and necessary for professional growth. I also enjoying sharing ideas
online, like writing this blog. My children are growing up with all this stuff
and loving each new gadget and innovation as well.
But I’m writing this article because I never cease to be dumbfounded by the
extraordinary pace of the technology revolution. Ever since I started to study
computer science over 30 years ago in high school, the exponential
transformation has been both exciting and scary to me at the same time. (Side
note—I love funny videos like this one
that describe our modern advances in fun
Bottom line—our society’s adoption of new technologies has
implications for our privacy, security, faith, careers, purity, families,
personal interactions, and a host of other topics. So how can we
navigate this tough road as we head into 2012 and beyond? Over the next few
months, I’d like to offer some specific thoughts in a series of blogs on this
topic. I’d like to start with that elusive goal: balance.
Great church leaders throughout the ages, such as Martin Luther, emphasized
as well as responsibility
in living out the Christian faith. In the 21
century, I believe that this means we need to think through the ramifications
of online life and intentionally develop habits that can benefit from the
virtual opportunities and also withstand the persistent storms ranging in
Over the past few years since I wrote the book Virtual
, I’ve learned that an important aspect to surfing
is to maintain balance—or keeping priorities straight over time regardless of
technology, culture or personal situations that often change.
So what does this look like? How can we “maintain balance” in cyberspace? What
What are the areas that we need to think through
regarding Internet and technology adoption? I’d like to address three
- Balance of intentions
- Balance of possibilities
- Balance regarding iPads (or
other Internet access device)
These three areas are generally not topics that we think about in detail
each day, but it can be helpful to stop and think about each aspect several
times a year. Since we are just stating 2012, perhaps now is a good time to
discuss this topic with a family member or trusted friend. As you work through
these items, think back to what you actually have done online (and with
technology) over the past few months, and what you aspire to do in the future.
Three Areas of Balance
Balance in intentions
(Jesus said) “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Matt 6:21 (NIV)
The first thing we need to examine as we use technology and/or visit
cyberspace is our intentions. What do we want to accomplish? Where are we
going? Why? How much time do we intend to stay there? Many people think of
these topics as “heart issues” or motivations. And yet, do we apply these
questions to how we spend our time online?
I know that if my heart is not in the right place, I’m much more susceptible
to be tempted to go places or view material that is not good for me or
perhaps not the best use of my time. This is especially hard when I’m
tired at the end of a day, and I’m just relaxing.
One time, I was online at home after work but before dinner. I started-off
by answering personal emails. Before I knew it, I had spent almost an hour
watching NFL.com and ESPN videos about Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos.
You might say “what’s wrong with that?” Answer: Sometimes…nothing. But the
truth is I should have spent that time getting some chores done or interacting
with my children. That poor judgment led to a “mini” argument and problems with
family members later that night.
One tip: think through your virtual journey before you go online,
just as you think through where you will shop before driving to a mall.
Balance in possibilities
“Everything is permissible—but not everything is beneficial. Everything is
everything is constructive.” 1 Cor. 10:23 (NIV)
The Internet offers an infinite number of possibilities. From sports, to
shopping to school work, almost every activity is online. And yet, do we have
too many possibilities or connect too often? Is technology crowding out quality
time with family or church?
As I describe in detail in my book, web designers have mastered the art of
“tempting the click” to get us to go places we never intended to visit when we
went online. Perhaps we should limit the possibilities to the areas that we
have determined to be most beneficial to our current situation. Using Covenant Eyes
is one way to filter
content and allow an Accountability Partner(s) to see where you are spending
your time online. No doubt, fun and games can be a part of the equation – but
we should strive for appropriate balance and not be overcome by the moment.
One tip: Set time limits on web surfing or games—even for yourself.
One interesting side note: major technology companies are working with the
European Community to age-rate
in coming years. I expect this to be extended to the USA. This trend
may help Christians and others who want to surf their values with more
Balance on my iPad (or other device)
(Jesus said) “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth
and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for
yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where
thieves do not break in and steal.” Matt 6:19-20 (NIV)
The question to ask here is do you really need that new device? Is that $5
download really essential? Do you feel required to go from the iPhone 4 to the
iPhone 4s to get the latest features like Siri
Is an annual upgrade required? At times the answer may be yes. Nevertheless, I
think many in America
fail to realize how buying the latest technology is the new way we “Keep up
with the Jones in 2012”—especially
with the housing market doing so poorly.
We have become a society where people upgrade smartphones and cellphones
well before the contract expires, regardless of cost, just because of the cute
new color and design of the device. I suppose this isn’t any different from
recent fight over new
Air Jordan shoes
, but I am convicted just thinking about these things after
reading Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount. So how much is enough?
One tip: try not to buy on impulse, but discuss purchases with
someone you trust first.
In conclusion, I urge readers to take a prayerful look at their online life.
Consider how our Jesus’ words pertain to technology and your online life. Think
about your use of Facebook, iPhone, YouTube or
(fill-in-your-favourite-technology.) Finally, we need to ask hard questions
like: Is the iPad the Real American idol?
My answer: Probably, now what can we do about it?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the use of technology in your life.
. . . .
an internationally recognized Internet and computer security expert. Currently,
Mr. Lohrmann works as the CSO for the state of Michigan. For seven years he served as the
Chief Information Security Officer for the Michigan government. He started his career
in the National Security Agency, and later worked in England for seven years with
Lockheed Martin followed by Mantech International. Dan holds a Master’s Degree
in Computer Science (CS) from Johns Hopkins University
in Baltimore, Maryland,
and a Bachelor’s Degree in CS from Valparaiso
University in Indiana. He is the author of Virtual Integrity:
Faithfully Navigating the Brave New Web
"If you want to be an
ethical consumer of porn...pay for it"
Friday, August 6, 2010 at
Julia Beazley in Pornography, Prostitution
Wow. That line is
the conclusion of an article in the Life section of today’s Globe and Mail,
to Revel in Porn and Feel Good About It
. I started reading, hoping –
and I’ll admit, expecting – to find that the title was intended to be ironic.
Instead, the piece is a matter-of-fact, (if not terribly thorough) quick
exploration of a few ‘ethical issues’ the author has been struck by as he’s
“surfed through videos on websites that aggregate porn.” Namely, “is there any
way to become an ethical consumer of smut.”
credit is due the author for beginning to ask important questions about the
porn industry. What happens off camera? How are the actors and actresses
treated? Are men and women coerced into sex acts, either through circumstances
of economic disparity or even rape? What about condom use? Are they fairly
compensated for their ‘labour’?
These are good
questions, even important questions. But I’m certain that if he had really done
his homework in seeking answers to them, he might have come up with a different
conclusion than “if you want to be an ethical consumer of porn, pay for it”. He
would have landed on a question that didn’t ask how to be an ethical
consumer of porn, but rather whether that was even possible.
“As a major
industry, the porn business does not just construct and sell a product; it
constructs a world in which the product can be sold: the technologies, the
business models, the enthusiastic consumers, the compliant performers, the
tolerant laws, even the ideologies that proclaim porn to be the very pinnacle
of empowerment and liberation”
She calls porn sex
‘debased, dehumanized, formulaic and generic,’ sex that ‘encodes deep cultural
scripts of male entitlement and female subservience.’ What she describes is a
sex that is so deeply contrary to the dignity of each and every human, male and
female, created in the image of God.
I’ll confess, when
it comes to pornography – and to be very clear, I mean where the subject matter
involves adults and doesn’t involve violence or overtly degrading acts – I used
to wonder if I should exercise a live and let live attitude.
But as I have
become more and more familiar with the issues of prostitution and human
trafficking, I’ve become increasingly convinced there isn’t anything live and
let live about pornography. To ignore the intricate connections between all
these facets of the so-called ‘sex trade’ is both ignorant and irresponsible.
There is much more
than a simple question of morality involved. It is a question of justice. And
while I may waffle on what my role is and ought to be in speaking to questions
of morality, I know for certain I am called to “do justice.”
It seems our
society has been groomed (a term used to describe how child predators prepare
their victims) to believe that as long as there is consent, and willing
participation, it’s an informed choice, it’s okay, it’s ethical, and it
shouldn’t be anyone else’ s business.
But as it is with
the issue of prostitution, in stark contrast to the few voices that argue
freedom of choice and women’s liberation, there are more and more women who
have ‘survived’ these industries who are speaking out about how unsafe,
non-consensual, undignified and unliberated these so-called professions are in
In an address at
the June 2010 Stop Porn Culture Conference, Gail Dines said that for all the
successful, apparently glamorous porn stars we see on the television programs
like Oprah or Howard Stern, there are “thousands of women that go to the San
Fernando Valley with stars in their eyes and come away with scars on their
bodies. Some go back to their low paid jobs while others end up on the streets
under the control of pimps, in the brothels of Nevada, or doing the type of
porn that is considered to be beyond the mainstream, even by the porn
industry…These are the women the pro-porn people never want to talk about
because they bring into stark focus just how the industry really treats women.
Their lives illustrate the contempt and utter disregard that the industry has
for women and the reality of their lives is hidden behind the mantra of ‘well,
they consented.’ What does consent mean in a world where women are the poorest,
hungriest and most overworked group? What does consent mean in a world where
according to economist Amartya
, 100 million women are missing? And we don’t even notice their
These words firmly
put to rest any notions of a ‘live and let live’ mindset when it comes to
pornography. The porn industry uses, abuses and exploits vulnerable people.
And, it has so infiltrated our society that the common understanding is that
it’s all okay, that boys will be boys, and that boys want porn… increasingly
graphic and hardcore porn.
What struck me
most as I read the article was that porn was presented as just so… normal. This
unquestionably unhealthy and unnatural representation of sexuality was, for an
author writing in a major national newspaper, simply... normal. And his
suggestion to any ethical dilemma that porn might present? We should try at
least to make sure our sources of porn are reputable, compensate the actors
fairly, and oh, make sure you pay for it.
As a mother of a
six year old boy, I firmly believe that it is in fact true that ‘boys will be
boys’. Little boys say and do things that sometimes make VERY little sense to
me. And I love it. I wouldn’t dream for a second of trying to stifle any of his
But I refuse to accept that being a boy means being
complicit in either an industry or in societal attitudes that exploit and
demean and dehumanize sex and those who engage in it. That say anyone is
entitled to treat anyone else’ s sexuality and person-hood as something that can
be bought or sold.
I refuse to believe men are born with a propensity to be
violent and misogynistic. And I will do my best to raise my little boy to
become a man who respects and values women – and sex – and will never think
that it’s okay to treat either as a commodity, whether on the internet, at the
video store, on a street corner or in a strip club.
Child Pornography and Canada’s
Minister of Justice
Monday, February 22, 2010 at
Don Hutchinson in Pornography
This past weekend
I attended the extremely well organized Christian Legal Fellowship National
Christian Law Student Conference hosted by University of Ottawa
law students. Kudos to organizers for a great event with great speakers
including Justice Minister Rob Nicholson as the keynote speaker for the opening
session on Thursday night.
I arrived a little
late as it can be hard to break away from a conversation with a Chippewa elder
(and I really enjoyed the wisdom he had to share), but that’s a story for a
different day. Because of my late arrival I didn’t hear all of Justice Minister Rob Nicholson' s talk but did hear some words of wisdom shared by a Conservative
elder, Nicholson having been first elected to Parliament in 1984.
We live in a
hyper-sexualized culture and children are, unfortunately, not immune from it.
Sex sells cars, clothes and children’s toys. Unfortunately, sex with children
also sells and so do images of that action.
Nicholson was a
member of the cabinet in the Progressive Conservative government that enacted
section 163.1 of the Criminal Code in 1993. The production, possession, sale
and distribution of child pornography in Canada is illegal as a result.
In November 1998,
the law was challenged by John Robin Sharpe who had been charged with two
counts of possessing child pornography. The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada,
having been engaged on this issue since the 1980s and involved in the passing
of the law in 1993, stood before the court as an intervener in its defense.
law was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada, with two exceptions: written or
visual presentation created by an individual from his or her imagination and
held for his or her exclusive personal use; and, visual recording that did not
depict unlawful sexual activity, created with the consent of the participants
and held exclusively for personal use. At the time of the decision in R. v.
, that meant that those able to legally consent to sexual
activity with an adult could be filmed while doing so, an age set at 14 since
the enactment of the Criminal Code in the 1890s.
Leader in the House of Commons, and subsequently Minister of Justice, Nicholson
oversaw the introduction and enactment of legislation to reduce the gap
established in R. v. Sharpe by raising the age of consent to sexual
activity with an adult from 14 to 16 years of age effective May 1, 2008.
Nicholson stated on Thursday evening that he was pleased to have played a role
in protecting children from predators in both adding child pornography to the
Criminal Code and increasing the protection afforded children by two more years
with the change in age of consent.
personal concern for the protection of children, Nicholson was pleased to tell
students that although Bill
, An Act respecting the mandatory reporting of Internet child
pornography by persons who provide an Internet service,
had died on the
order paper when Parliament was prorogued, the government would be
reintroducing the legislation when the next session begins in March.
People of faith
can and do engage in the political process, making a difference and making good
public policy motivated by the faith that inspires them. The students were
impressed with Minister Nicholson’ s perspective and accomplishments. And, we
look forward to the re-introduced legislation in the hope that it will move
quickly through House and Senate to continue to extend the protection of
children that is part of the legacy of the Honourable Rob Nicholson’ s career.
As I wrote on December 1, 2009
, “Children deserve the
right to be children, protected – not perverted – by all adults in their life.”
Experts Admitting Internet Addiction Really Does Exist (It’s About Time!)
by Rev. Jim Rose, LLPC
A thirteen year old boy, punching holes in the wall, throwing things
angrily, going to school only intermittently, refusing to do anything that will
take him away from his obsession. Is this the plot of a new reality TV show?
No. Actually it’s a real boy from Sydney,
mother is beside herself and desperate for help. She’s gone to specialists.
She’s talked to a psychiatrist. What could possibly have such a hold on him?
His mother said, he won’t go to school. He missed most of this year and most of last year.
I can’t get him out the door. I am a petite person, just 44kg, and he is
quite tall for his age so I can’t pick him up and put him in the car when he
We have spoken to the school and they have spoken to him but he is not
worried about it at all. We have called the police because he gets aggressive
when you take the computer away.
He starts punching holes through the walls, throwing things around and
threatening you. And this all has to do with World Of Warcraft, the most
I wish I had never bought it.
The Reality of Internet Addiction
The article tells the story of another Australian boy who has been admitted
to a hospital study attempting to control destructive Internet usage:
The first teenager admitted to hospital partly due to computer addiction volunteered
to spend a number of weeks at the Rivendell Adolescent Unit at Concord, receiving therapy and doing
The teen, who accepted he needed to be separated from his computer if the
treatment was to succeed, said he was now gaming two or three hours a day
instead of six hours. “I am still playing but I am controlling it a bit better and I’m not doing
it through the night,” he said. “The treatment was to find a useful substitute to gaming as the best way to
manage it. I am now playing sports–basketball, tennis, swimming–and hope to
study business at university.”
I hope you’re not laughing at these poor kids. It is hard for those who
haven’t been touched by the reality of Internet addiction to really believe it.
How could a kid spend six hours a day playing computer games? What parent would
really have to call the police to intervene between a child and his computer?
But there are many who do laugh in skeptical unbelief. Even “experts” have
concluded that Internet usage is really not that big a problem. Typical of the
sceptics is John M. Grohol, a mental health professional and editor of the Psychcentral
website. He wrote an article titled, “Why Internet Addiction Still Doesn’t Exist
analysis of ten years of scientific research on “Internet addiction” Grohol
concluded: What’s happening today and some people’s reaction to the Internet is neither
new nor unique—it’s as old as technology itself (starting with the printing
press). It’s an overreaction to suggest that the Internet is somehow different
than what’s come before, as history tells us otherwise. Every new technology
unleashed on society from the 1800s on was thought to be the end of civilized
society—the paperback book, the telephone, the automobile, the motion picture,
television, and finally video games. And now, the Internet is the latest in a
long line of demons society would like to blame for some of its problems.
I don’t deny that some small subset of people have behavioural problems with
learning how to integrate using parts of the Internet into their everyday
lives. But people have similar problems with work, the television, and many
other things in life, and we can still treat them without demonizing (and
labelling) the conduit that brings a person new entertainment, information, or
Now isn’t this an interesting use of logic? Dr. Grohol said that Internet
addiction can’t possibly be real because the Internet is simply a technology
and people have been demonizing harmless technologies for generations.
that last phrase: the Internet is the latest in a long line of demons society
would like to blame for some of its problems. Is this really what the
proponents of Internet addiction believe?That the Internet is demonic
I suppose there are some “Luddites” out there who would try to make
this point, but that’s not where the debate rages. The very concept of an
addiction suggests neurological, behavioural and chemical changes in the
addict. It’s not about the substance as much as changes in the person making it
increasingly difficult for self-control. That certainly seems to be what
happened to the boys in Australia.
But it isn’t just out of touch Luddites who are recognizing it.
A Diagnosable Condition
For example, there is cutting edge research on Internet abuse by scientist
William Struthers. If you haven’t seen his scholarly yet accessible work, Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain,
really should. While Struthers and others like him are careful not to get
caught up in the “addiction” or “non-addiction” debate, I believe his research
lays the foundation for understanding the addictive potential of this kind of
I’m hopeful that the voices of sceptics like Grohol will become less
influential as more and more experts see the light. A huge step forward would
be if Internet addiction is included in the upcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual. The DSM is the recognized authority on mental
health diagnoses, used by professionals everywhere. If it is included it will
go a long way toward elevating the risks of uncontrolled Internet activity.
Internet addiction appears to be a common disorder that merits inclusion in
DSM-V. Conceptually, the diagnosis is a compulsive-impulsive spectrum disorder
that involves online and/or offline computer usage…and consists of at least
three subtypes: excessive gaming, sexual preoccupations, and e-mail/text
All of the variants share the following four components:
excessive use, often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic
2) withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression
when the computer is inaccessible
3) tolerance, including the need for better
computer equipment, more software, or more hours of use
repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation,
While this debate over whether Internet abuse is or is not an addiction may
seem irrelevant to most of us—especially the parents of teens like I mentioned
above—I beg to differ. The terminology signals a cultural and professional
mindset with significant implications.
The more we minimize or
marginalize a problem the longer it will spiral out of control.
“gatekeepers” of society—parents, teachers, medical and mental health professionals—need
assistance in recognizing and dealing with social problems. They need
heightened awareness. They need to heed the early warning signs so they can
push the alarm buttons when problems are presented. Admitting that some
Internet abuse is an addiction might have that benefit.
There’s one other thing. It reminds us how destructive
and deadly this abuse can be. Very few people need help understanding how
harmful alcohol or drug addiction is. We’ve been trained to cry for help and
insist on intervention in these situations. Perhaps the growing willingness on
the part of the mental health community to treat Internet gaming, pornography
and texting as potentially addictive will have the positive effect of expanding
research and treatment plans even more in the days to come.
The Bully Epidemic
by Michele Santos
Far from a benign rite of passage, bullying threatens the
long-term health of students across the country. Thousands of elementary, middle and high school students in the United States are bullied every year, usually because they are different in some way.
Sometimes the victims are teased, pushed around or hit because of their
ethnicity or sexual orientation. Others are harassed because they are poor or
overweight, have a learning disability, or are shy.
No matter what the reason, bullying can have serious, long-term psychological
consequences. Constant bullying as a child may lead to suicidal tendencies
later. Studies of school shooters have shown that virtually all were
continually teased in school.
While clearly not everyone who is bullied becomes a murderer, school shootings
do show the danger posed by prevalent attitudes toward bullying. Assuming it is
a youth problem that will go away on its own, experts say, will only increase
the numbers of tortured teens capable of violence.
Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho was bullied in high school, former
classmates say, because of his race and accent. (Cho and his family were from South Korea.) It's
perilous for our society to treat bullying as a normal part of growing up, says
Dr. Warren Blumenfeld, a professor at Iowa State University who travels across the
country giving talks about preventing bullying.
Parents and teachers often dismiss bullying incidents with a "boys will be
boys, girls will be girls" shrug, but "this is a societal toxic
attitude that needs to be changed," Blumenfeld says. "Bullying has
profound consequences for those who are bullied and those who do the
bullying." Blumenfeld says there's a "definite connection" between being a
victim of bullying and going on to commit acts of violence.
"When you feel you don't have any chances, you have nothing to lose,"
Blumenfeld says. "The perpetrators (of school shootings in recent years)
felt that there was no one out there for them." Dr. Michele Borba, an author and educational psychologist who regularly appears
on "The Today Show," says the intensity of bullying has increased in
According to Borba, the National Education Association estimates that 160,000
children skip school each day because they are afraid of being harassed or
victimized. One out of seven children has been bullied, she says. "Bullying is far more intense, far more relentless and occurs at younger
ages," than before, Borba says. A child who is constantly bullied often
becomes a bully after bottling up a dangerous amount of fury and resentment.
"They have so much anger built up—they've got that anger, long-term,
emotionally kicking on them," Borba says. "Some kids can blow it off.
These kids (the school shooters) don't have that resilience factor. You finally
find that this kid is a pressure cooker."
Many children and teens who are cruelly bullied for years are at risk for
committing suicide, Blumenfeld says. "There are serious psychological outcomes in those who have been bullied,
from depression to suicide attempts to social anxiety disorder,"
Blumenfeld says. Blumenfeld says he was constantly bullied by his classmates
because he is gay. "I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder" as a result of
being bullied, Blumenfeld says. "I've been in therapy for 40 years."
Blumenfeld was able to build a successful life and academic career because of
the support from his parents: "My parents helped me in understanding that
it wasn't my problem. It was society's problem. For those young people who were
not as supported as I was, we see the suicides."
In the case of school shooters, Blumenfeld says, "We see people who were
crying for help, and then turned on others. Suicide and homicide are two sides
of the same coin."
Bullies now have a whole new array of ways to torment their victims. E-mail,
instant messaging, camera phones and Web sites have given school
bullies—particularly in middle school—ever more efficient ways to spread their
Blumenfeld is conducting a study on "cyber-bullying." Examples of
cyber-bullying would be if girls sent out a mass e-mail insulting another girl,
or took pictures of other girls in the locker room and posted them online or
e-mailed them to other people in the school. He calls these acts
One particularly mean creation is the "online voting booth," where
teens at a school post pictures and names of students and have other teens vote
on who is "the hottest, the ugliest, the biggest geek or the wimpiest
fag," Blumenfeld says. "They e-mail stories and caricatures, jokes
ridiculing and mocking each other, or telling who you slept with or what you're
like in bed."
Junior highs and high schools have always been rife with mean-spirited gossip.
But 20 years ago a bully's options were limited; now, malicious gossip can
spread "to thousands of people, with one click on a computer," Blumenfeld
Hope for a solution
Iowa has had
success with the Olweus Bullying
, Blumenfeld says. This comprehensive program educates
children, teachers, parents and staff members to reduce bullying incidents and
improve peer interactions at schools. More than 12 countries have implemented
In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources
and Services Administration has a site with suggestions for parents, kids and
teachers called "Stop
"The culture has to see bullying as a problem of society, not just a
youthful problem that will go away," Blumenfeld says. "We need to
look at systemic reasons why people are perpetrating violence."
Michele Santos lives in Austin, Texas.
She has written about architecture, real estate, health, fitness and other
lifestyle trends for more than 10 years. Her articles appear in
Morning News, the Austin American-Statesman and other
You just caught your child looking at porn. What do you do?
Written by Rick Thomas
My friend Luke Gilkerson with Covenant Eyes
interviewed me regarding how to respond
to a parent who just caught his/her son in porn.
Luke’s questions are in italics, with my responses underneath:
Start with hope
LG: Let’s say a dad came to see you for advice about his teenage son. He
tells you his son has been sneaking out of bed late at night looking at porn on
the computer. He’s put filters in place but his son seems to be able to get
around them. How might you start advising this father?
The first thing the parent needs to know is that God’s grace is sufficient
The starting point when dealing with personal challenges must be in
the hope we have in God. While we may not be able to understand
everything that is going on in our lives, we can understand, know, and trust in
God’s goodness even in our darkest hours.
I would want to make sure the parents are rooting their hearts and minds in
God alone. God is writing His story in their lives. God is in control. God is
working His plan. And most importantly they need to know that God is good. These should be
fixed anchor points in their hearts. My first goal would be to make sure the
parents are rooted in these truths.
The second thing I would want to do is make sure the parents
understand that the real issue is in the kid’s heart, not on his computer.
While the parent can use technology to guard the computer, he will need to take
another approach to guard the child’s heart. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully
grown brings forth death. – James 1:14-15 (ESV)
Sometimes a dad or a mom can have a hard time accepting what they are seeing
in their children. While they can understand why other children mess
up, it can be hard to receive and accept the truth about their own children. If a child, like the one you’re asking about, goes to these lengths to get
to porn, then you are more than likely talking about what our culture calls an
addiction. Paul frames it better by calling it being “caught” in a
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual
should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you
too be tempted. – Galatians
It may be helpful for them to re-frame what is happening in their family
another way. For example, if you think about an alcoholic or crack addict who
was circumventing sound advice and obstacles to drink or use, then it may be
easier for the parent to see the depth and severity of the problem. This kid is not a victim to his culture or to technology. He is
premeditating how he can get to porn. He is a user. According to James, porn is
in his heart. He is being lured away by evil desires that he fosters in his
End with hope
This may be a good time to re-remind the parents of the grace and mercy of
God. God is working His plan in their lives and now they have a great
opportunity to cooperate with what God desires to do for their child. With that in mind, part of God’s mercy could be His desire to blow this
thing up while the child is young. This would be a mercy from the Lord. Dealing
with this problem today is far better than finding out about it when he is
40-years old, married to a bitter wife and his own kids are in rebellion.
Rather than the parents getting lost in the discouragement of what is going
on I would want to motivate them to think and respond biblically, while
implementing a biblical plan to help their son. As you counsel them, be sure to
situate the parent’s hope in God.
Parents need to lead
LG: What are some first steps of protection you would recommend to
parents to prevent future porn-surfing?
The parents should do the most obvious things like Covenant Eyes.
I would also
recommend that they call Covenant Eyes to make sure they have all the blocks
that are possible on their computers–all of their computers.
This kind of protection would also apply to cell phones, iPads, and any
other form of technology that allows the child to access pornography. While
there are no foolproof ways to stop a guy if he wants to get porn, it would be
good to do as much as possible.
Additionally, I would remove or reduce his accessibility to
technology. Does he have to have technology? What is the purpose for
him having a computer and other devices? Cell phones are a desire, not a need. Most people do not
need a cell phone. Our culture tells us we need one while enticing us to have
them. Facebook is similar. Nobody needs to be on Facebook. Though this flies in
the face of our technology gods, the truth is that we don’t need all that
I have counselled many parents who are afraid of their children, as shown by
their acquiescing to the demands of their children. I would want to carefully
walk the parents through the “needs vs. desires” tension when it comes to
If there are times when the child needs to be on the computer, then I would
move his computer to a central, highly visible, and public place in the home.
If your son struggled with drinking, I don’t think you would put a mini-fridge
full of beer in his room and give him a stern warning about what you’ll do to
him if he takes a sip.
Model, serve, and protect
LG: How should a parent talk to their teen about the details of what
they have seen? Should a parent probe into specific questions about what kind
of porn was viewed?
The parents should talk to their child the way they would want to be
talked to if they were found out.
Yelling and screaming at a child
would not be a good idea. The parents should seek to model what they want their
child to be. This was the advice of Paul in several places in his writings
; Ephesians 5:1
- If they want their child to
be humble, then they should model humility.
- If they want their child to
be kind, then they should model kindness.
- If they want their child to
be honest, then they should model honesty.
As far as the actual content, it would depend on the situation, the content
viewed, and the parents. For example, the dad has a responsibility to protect,
lead, and shepherd his wife. Sometimes the role of a shepherd-husband is to
protect his wife.
- Will it serve her to know
what was viewed?
- What would be the point of
her knowing all the details?
I deal with these kinds of things all the time. My wife’s position is that
she trusts me and she does not want to know all the gory details. She does not
want her mind polluted with some of the things I hear through my counselling
opportunities. It is my job to serve my wife, to help her in her growth in
It may not serve the wife to know the severity or the explicit nature of the
porn her son was viewing. It is enough to know that her son was in porn and
that he needs help.
From the husband’s perspective, it would not be wise for him to view
the porn–nothing more than what he has discovered. Men are affected
differently than women. While the wife is generally nurturing and would be
tempted to lose hope by what she sees, the husband would be tempted to be lured
in by what he views. In either case, porn takes no prisoners. It is violence to the soul. All
parties involved should be extremely circumspect when dealing with it. More
porn knowledge or more visuals are not helpful.
It’s not important to count how many beer bottles were on the wall. Just
knowing there were some up there, some were taken down, and your son did it
should be enough.
Matters of the heart
LG: How should parents be disciplining their children to help them
understand why pornography is wrong?
This is an interesting question. While I would want to discipline my
children on the sin of pornography–if they were into porn, I would want to
discipline them through the deeper and more insidious problems that are going
on–the things that feed the porn. I cannot over-emphasize this: our behaviours flow from our hearts and if our
hearts are not shepherded toward Christ, then the kid does not have a chance.
The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the
evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of
the heart his mouth speaks. – Luke 6:43-45 (ESV)
Some of the more insidious issues of the heart are the following:
Slothfulness - the child is lazy, meaning that he is using
sex to satisfy himself rather than sex being a beautiful thing that God
designed. Sex is not primarily for him, but for his future wife. He is lazy. He
is not interested in what God says.
You will find laziness at the root of a lot of what the child does. Laziness
is not a singular tributary out of the soul. Laziness will touch many things in
this child’s life. Begin to carefully examine his whole life and you’ll find pockets
of laziness in other places, not just how he thinks about and behaves
Dishonouring - More than likely the child knows he is dishonouring
his parents, but he does not care. He wants what he wants. Like laziness,
you’ll also find this “dishonouring worldview” popping up in other areas of his
If his dishonouring attitude is not taken care of now, there will be many
other repercussions in his future, e.g. how he thinks about and works for his
future employer and how he loves and serves his future wife are just two
Deceit/lying - He is lying and living in a lie. This is one
of the more heinous sins. When a person lives a lie, then it is difficult to
know if anything he says or does is the truth. Lying and deceit in a
relationship will destroy a relationship.
One of the reasons we love God so much is because He always tells the truth.
We can assuredly know where we stand with Him. You cannot ever be sure where
you stand with a person who lies.
Self-righteousness - Porn is a form of self-righteousness.
The self-righteous person has a greater than/better than attitude. Porn is the
devaluing of women. The porn user is “using” women to satisfy his own selfish
Self-centeredness - As you might deduce, self-centeredness
is the center of the porn user’s worldview. Whatever is in the center of his
life is what defines him. This is who the son really is. Being self-centered
will creep into every single facet of this person’s life.
Ignorance - Part of why he is not trusting God, choosing
rather to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, is because there is
something he does not understand about God. There is a level of ignorance
working in his life. You can find this kind of life portrayed by the life of
the fool in Proverbs.
These are merely a sample of some of the things that have been going on in
the kid’s heart–things that have led to his pornography use. As the parents
insightfully talk to him, they will find other sinful categories working in his
heart too. They will need to carefully unpack him so the roots of porn can be
One of the more challenging things to walk the parents through is a sober
self-assessment of their marriage and how they have parented their child. In
more cases than not, it has been my experience to find that there are problems
between the parents, as well as how they parent when it comes to the sin of
Though the kid is personally responsible for what he did, if the parents are
humble they will want to know how they may have contributed and how they can
change in order to serve him (Matthew 7:3-5
It may be that the parents need to go to their child and confess their sins,
whatever they may be. I have seen many parents humble themselves through the
years and it went a long way in restoring what was broken in their family, the
porn being just the tip of the iceberg.
Finally, everybody involved needs to understand that what was born in
isolation will be overcome in community. Porn is a secret sin. It lives
undercover and in the dark.
The parents and the child need to pursue the care and accountability of
their community–their local church. While Covenant Eyes can help, the
family needs more. They need the family of God.
The parents and the child will be embarrassed.
Everybody understands this. Exposure cuts against the grain of a proud heart.
If they will humble themselves to the help of God’s people, they will soon experience
a new and refreshing kind of grace from God.
Child Protection: Bill C-54,
Steps in the Right Direction
Monday, November 8, 2010 at
Don Hutchinson in Child Protection, Pornography
Most agree that it
is difficult to think of anything more reprehensible than an adult violating a
child’s trust for personal sexual gratification. Where some might disagree is
on the degree of punishment that is warranted for such violation.
introduction of Bill C-54, an act to amend the Criminal Code (sexual
offences against children), takes steps forward in recognizing the
severity of such crimes on the lives of children. Minister of Justice Rob
Nicholson and the Government of Canada are to be congratulated for introducing
this legislation, and Parliament was encouraged to pass C-54 quickly. With a
minority Parliament and rumours of an election continually swirling, actions
that protect children deserve the full and early attention of both the House of
Commons and the Senate.
legislation introduces increased mandatory minimum sentences for the crimes of
sexual interference (inappropriately touching a child), invitation to sexual
touching (encouraging a child to touch an adult inappropriately), sexual
exploitation (abusing a position of trust for sexual interference or invitation
to sexual touching), and incest. The minimum sentences are proposed to be
increased from forty-five days to one year for indictable offences, those
assessed by prosecutor and court to be more serious, and from fourteen days to
ninety days for summary conviction offences, those assessed to be less
serious – both types of offence being assessed as “serious” and in fact a
crime. The potential maximum sentences remain ten years for indictable offences
and eighteen months for summary convictions.
Bill C-54 also
similarly increases the minimum penalties for possessing or accessing child
pornography as defined in section 163.1
of the Criminal Code
Minimum sentences for parents who provide their children for sexual purposes
and others who knowingly allow such sexual activity as described above to take
place on their premises are also increased. In addition, the
draft legislation proposes to add the new crime of “making sexually explicit
materials available” to a child for the purpose of facilitating the commission
of any of the series of sexual offences against the child as are described in
the Criminal Code
also proposes updating the Code to recognize offences that may be
committed by “telecommunication” in sharing the offending materials or making
arrangements/agreement for a child to be engaged in sexual offences.
As a corollary to
legislation passed in 2008 that increased the age of consent to sexual activity
with an adult from fourteen years of age to sixteen, penalties for sexual
assault of a person under sixteen years of age are also strengthened.
There are those
who are philosophically opposed to mandatory minimum sentences, usually because
they are focused on a prison system that is not adequately directed toward
rehabilitation of offenders. Others argue that such sentences do not function
as a deterrent to the depraved mind.
Still, one cannot
deny the need to take steps for the better protection of our children.
One step Bill C-54
takes is to bring public attention to a change in the law designed to make
those who are tempted, but have not given themselves over to depravity, think
twice before taking advantage of a child.
A second step is
to better equip law enforcement officials with tools to arrest and prosecute
those who intentionally violate children for personal satisfaction or financial
A third step is
making it clear to those who sentence convicted offenders that there is an
expectation of recognizing the seriousness of the offence.
The fourth step is
often not considered by those who oppose mandatory minimums. That step is
recognition to the child victim of his or her significance when the person who
perpetrated their abuse doesn’t walk out of the courtroom based on time served
but instead is taken out of the courtroom through the door to the cells. That
step is the recognition that for a period of time the child victim may live
free from the fear that their abuser is just around the corner, and simply have
the time to heal … perhaps to restore some elements of childhood that such
perpetrators seek to steal.
Minister Nicholson, these are steps in the right
direction. Now we wait for your colleagues in Parliament to join you in taking
these steps. We trust it won’t be long.
Not Just Child’s
Play: Potential Pitfalls in Console Video Games (Part 1)
By Lisa Eldred
Do violent video
games make violent kids?
It’s a common and
important question, and one that was on the forefront of many parent advocacy
groups and gamers alike at the end of June, when the
Supreme Court struck down California’s ban
on selling violent video games
to minors. Gamers rejoiced at the Supreme Court’s commitment to free speech,
and parent advocacy groups were concerned about the removal of the ban and
therefore the removal of another layer of protection between kids and
inappropriate content. But what does it
mean for a video game to be violent? Is that the only risk of video games? And
what are parents and gamers to do to protect themselves?
Understanding Video Game Genres
The first thing to
understand is that video games are not in and of themselves a genre. Like
movies or books, there are different genres and different audiences, and just
as the violence in Lord of the Rings is different from the violence of
The Godfather, so too is the violence in Street Fighter
different than that of Nintendo’ Super Smash Brothers.
Before we look at
some of the negative elements of video games, we need a brief overview of some
of the most popular genres.
On a technical
level, a role-playing game (RPG) is simply a game where you play a specific
role in a story. Usually you (by yourself) control a team of 6-7 characters
from a third-person point of view. These games involve lengthy preset story-lines with some customization. Lightning, the primary protagonist in Final
Fantasy XIII, will always have the same storyline, regardless of who is
playing the game.
However, recent developments in video game technology have
led to an increasingly customizable experience. In the Dragon Age
series, for example, you can choose your main character’s name, race (e.g. elf
vs. dwarf), gender, role (fighter, wizard, etc.), and appearance.
Most RPGs are based
in a fantasy world and use magic. However, the term itself is all-encompassing;
games like Grand Theft Auto have been described as RPGs.
Popular RPG series: Final
Fantasy, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Kingdom Hearts
shooters (FPS), you directly take the role of a character as seen through his
or her eyes. On the screen, you will likely only see your character’s hands and
any weapons you’re holding. FPS games tend to focus on action and fighting.
Popular FPS series:Halo,
Bioshock, Call of Duty
focus on tactics and planning to achieve victory. Usually you have an omniscient
view of the resources you’re controlling, and have direct control over all of
the actions you take (e.g. troops may defend against enemies automatically, but
won’t move unless you tell them to).
Strategy games will
either take place in real time (RTS), meaning you and your enemies act at the
same time, or in individual turns. Most strategy games focus on warfare, though
there are exceptions. For example, the popular board game Settlers of Catan
(also downloadable on consoles) is a turn-based strategy game about acquiring
territory and more settlements than your competitors.
games:Civilization V, Star craft 2, Settlers of
Catan, Valkyria Chronicles
are generally open-ended; there may be small goals to accomplish, but the game
doesn’t have a distinct endpoint. Some simulations aim for accuracy, like
Microsoft’s Flight Simulator, which presents realistic flight
controls. Others may focus on more cartoonish world-building, such as The
Sims, where you control the finances, relationships, and careers of
series: Flight Simulator, The Sims, Spore
Puzzle games are
generally family-friendly and focus on solving a problem to get from one
location to another. In Portal 2 (2011), for example, you create
portals in the walls of a science laboratory that allow you to walk through one
portal in one part of the room and out the other portal in another part of the
room. Although you have to destroy a handful of robotic enemies, you do so
through clever problem-solving more than outright violence.
Not all puzzle
games are kid-safe. The upcoming game Catherine, for example, is
technically a puzzle game, but is centered around the protagonist’s sexual
relationship with his girlfriend and a one-night stand with another woman.
games:Portal 2, LEGO Star Wars, Catherine
While there are
certain common elements to most video games, how they play out will vary
depending on the nature of the individual game, and the description of
“violence” in an RPG may be significantly different from violence in an FPS.
So what are some of
the common dangers, and where should you set the lines for yourself or your
As more and more
adults play video games, concerns about language will continue to decrease, and
foul words will sneak into games with increasingly lower ratings. Portal 2,
for example, drops a limited number of foul words in recorded messages.
Characters in RPGs (usually considered appropriate for teens) will also spout
single obscenities at emotional points in the storyline. The older the intended
audience, the less concerned game developers will be with avoiding foul
The reality is that
fighting is one of the most common game mechanics, and game companies will
continue to make violent video games unless there is compelling evidence (and
legal directives) that violent games create violent kids (and so far, little
evidence supports that theory, according to researchers like Henry
a difference between the defensive fantasy violence of Final Fantasy XIII and
more real-world violence as in Grand Theft Auto 4 (inset).
The very term
“violence” is almost too broad to be useful. There is a vast difference between
the gratuitous or overly-realistic violence of games like Grand Theft Auto
or Bioshock and the fantasy violence of an RPG like Final Fantasy.
One of the primary mechanics in all three games is the death of enemies. But
it’s a very different experience to run over prostitutes with your car,
compared to defending yourself from zombie-like humans, compared to watching
monsters dissipate in a puff of smoke. Even non-violent games may have violent
elements. In The Sims, if two characters dislike each other, they may
fight in a comedic cloud of dust and smoke.
If you’re worried
about video game violence, the U.S.-based Electronic Software Review Board
(ESRB) offers age-based ratings as a baseline. It may be enough to tell your
teenager that he isn’t allowed to play games rated M (Mature) in your house,
and set parental controls on all current consoles to enforce that. Alternately,
you may draw the line at FPS games, but the more cartoonish RPGs are fine. Or
you may dislike the magical elements of RPGs, but decide that the slightly more
realistic violence of strategy games is okay, since they help train the brain
to think strategically.
Sexual content in
video games is also a concern, though surprisingly a less controversial one. While
fighting is a primary game mechanic, sex is a much less important one, and if a
game has highly sexual content (e.g. nudity or intercourse) it will get a
higher rating from the ESRB.
has pointed out that when she runs focus groups on video games, the
boys she speaks to are more likely to see kissing as inappropriate content.
Because kissing is something they are likely to do in real life (unlike
participating in extreme violence, which they recognize as fiction) games that
include kissing are in a way “too real” from their viewpoint. While there is
little or no research on the effects of sexual content in video games on the
brain, the related research on pornography, in combination with the
surprisingly concerned reactions of young boys for the simple act of a kiss,
indicate that this ought to be a major concern for parents.
shows up in things as simple as a female character’s outfit, sexuality is a lot
more prevalent than one might think. Once again, the question is, what does it
mean to have sexual content in video games? How does it play out between
genres? And where do you draw the line?
In most FPS or
RPGs, the biggest concern is with female outfits. In an FPS, a female enemy may
be scantily clad; in an RPG, it may be one of the characters you control.
Although significant research states otherwise, the stereotype is that only
males are gamers. To appeal to this male demographic, female characters are
given large breasts and impractically revealing armor. Of the three female
protagonists of Final Fantasy XIII, two of the three have bared
midriffs, and all three wear either shorts or short skirts.
aren’t the only concern with RPGs. Some action/adventure games will actually
include sexually charged mini-games. At the end of Dragon Age: Origins,
one female character will request that either you or one of the male characters
impregnates her (the act takes place off-screen). You can also romance your
characters, resulting in a PG-13 scene wherein both parties wear underwear;
there’s a similar option in Bioware’s Mass Effect. These romances are
not limited to Male-Female pairings. And in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (2004),
players uncovered a hidden option known as “Hot Coffee,” in which you could
actually control the protagonist’s actions during (fully-clothed) sex.
Sexual content in
simulation games is equally concerning, particularly in games like The Sims,
in which you directly control the appearance and actions of characters. In The
Sims 3 (2009), clothing options range from full coverage to revealing
(female characters may sleep in only their undergarments, for example).
Personality traits include “Flirty” and “Good Kisser.” Regardless of their
gender or romantic relationships with others, two adult Sims who like each
other enough can choose to “Woo hoo” – the bed covers rustle beneath laughter and
the sounds of a harp. The Sims 3 is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB.
As video game
developers continue to realize that gamers continue to play video games as
adults, the number of adult-themed games will only increase. The game Catherine
has a release date of July 26, 2011, and currently occupies two spots on Amazon’s
best-seller list for video games. Its premise? The protagonist impregnates his
girlfriend, has a one-night stand with another woman, and, as Amazon*
describes, “Vincent’s waking fears, doubts, pressures, and growing guilt about
commitment and fidelity now gleefully follow him into his dreams.”
prevalence of questionable content within video games (even the otherwise
kid-friendly Portal 2 contains swearing), why even bother with video
games? Why not forbid the entire lot?
Many video games
with storylines will have good themes. RPGs, for example, almost always promote
the values of teamwork, loyalty, dedication to a cause, and good vs. evil. (The
final enemy in Final Fantasy X is named Sin.) Strategy war games will
often address the cost and consequences of warfare. Even FPS games, which tend
to have gratuitous violence, will incorporate themes of good vs. evil and
revolution against evil regimes for the cause of justice. Both Bioshock
games show the ultimate result of political extremism. The first is set in a
failed extreme libertarian society reminiscent of Ayn Rand’s writings, and the
second is set against the backdrop of communism.
Puzzle and strategy
games in particular require a great deal of thought and planning. In Portal
2, you are handed a set of tools (including your portal gun) and set in a
bizarre environment; you are required to use physics (like momentum) to your
advantage in order to complete increasingly complex tasks. In Valkyria
Chronicles, you fight your way across WWII-style battlefields. A poorly
planned move could result in the loss of a member of your troop. And in The
Sims 3, you’re required to balance a limited income and limited time with
your Sim household’s need to eat, pay bills, and stay healthy, with their
individual desires to have fun, have nice possessions, and maintain
relationships with friends (much like real life).
number of games will force you to confront ethical dilemmas that impact later
events in the game. Both Bioshock games are excellent examples of
this. Throughout both games, you are required to either rescue or “harvest” a
number of little girls. Rescuing them saves their lives at the cost of a
smaller immediate reward and later prizes in gratitude. Harvesting them gives
you greater immediate rewards, but results in their death and an unhappy game
ending. The second Bioshock game additionally allows you to save or
kill a handful of additional characters; if you show mercy to at least one in
particular, she will assist you later in the game.
Some of the more
open-ended RPGs, like Mass Effect and Dragon Age, will also
take your choices as a player into account. As in real life, choosing the more
morally upright path in these games will frequently lead to more immediate
difficulties, but will usually result in a happier ending at the conclusion of
What You Can Do
Now that you’ve got
a general idea of some of the pros and cons of video games, what can you do to
set standards within your own home? How can you protect yourself and your
family from the potential pitfalls?
Judge each game individually
While the ESRB
ratings are a good starting point, you may decide that a game they rate E is
not actually appropriate for your children—or conversely, if your teen is
mature enough, you may decide that she is allowed to play a game rated M. Start by checking PluggedIn
see if they offer a review of the game in question, as their reviews will dig
deep into much of the negative content.
From there, ask
yourself the following questions:
- That is the purpose of the violence? Is it to
protect your character or others, or is it entirely gratuitous?
- Are there consequences for gratuitous violence?
(Even in Grand Theft Auto, you will eventually be chased by
- How realistic is the violence?
- Does the game rely on mechanics that run
contrary to personal convictions (e.g. magic)?
- How noticeably revealing are female
- How prevalent are sexual themes? Are they
- Is there simulated sex? Are there
consequences for sexual relations?
Pick your appropriate game console
If you haven’t yet
purchased a game console but are strongly considering it, look at the game
titles available for each platform. If you have young children, most likely you
will want to stick with a Nintendo Wii, which offers more family friendly games
(like the Mario series), party games (like Wii Sports), and games that
actually promote physical activity (like Wii Fit). Sony PlayStation 3
and Microsoft’s XBOX 360 offer more T (Teen) and M (Mature) games that are
often popular and action-packed. Don’t forget to evaluate handheld gaming
systems, like the Nintendo DS line or the PlayStation Portable.
Set parental controls
Set rules for your
kids, and explain them. This includes limits for what games are played both in
and out of the home and setting limits for when and how long your kids can play
video games. Limiting their time spent in games may be as simple as setting a
timer next to the TV. Be willing to give them grace when necessary. RPGs in
particular only have a limited number of save points, so try to warn them when
their time limit is running out so they can save their progress, and if they
need a few minutes to get to a good stopping point, be willing to give it to
All three game
consoles allow you to set parental controls based on ESRB ratings, making it
easy to enforce a “No Rated-M Games” rule. Windows Vista and 7 do as well, but
Windows XP does not. Learn which games
your kids’ friends like to play. If one friend is a fan of the Halo series
but you don’t want your children playing it, encourage your kids to invite that
friend over for tamer games.
Set limits for yourself
If you don’t have
kids or if you will be the primary gamer, don’t forget to determine your own
adult boundaries for games. Once again using the Bioshock series, you
may decide that its storyline outweighs the violent elements. On the other
hand, “Garbage in, garbage out”—if you notice that the profanity-laced game
makes you more prone to swearing, you may decide it’s inappropriate after all.
And you may decide that some games are inappropriate simply because they waste
your time. In the Covenant Eyes offices alone, one gamer discarded The Sims
3 due to its sexual content, and another sold his copy of Civilization
V because it stole time that he knew he should spend with his family.
Not Just Child’s
Play: Online Interactions in Console and Single-Player Games (Part 2)
By Lisa Eldred
“Online interactions not rated by the ESRB.”
Perhaps you’ve seen
this notice on video games, but have you ever stopped to ponder what it
actually means? After all, a game is a game, isn’t it? What makes an online
component of a video game unrateable? Last month we
discussed games and their content generally
. This month we’ll take a closer
look at what it means when console games use the Internet.
Taking Consoles Online
Internet use on all
three consoles, Wii, XBOX 360, and PlayStation 3, is almost inescapable. All
three consoles push you toward creating a personal username, which is handy for
tracking in-game achievements. While you’re not necessarily required to tie
these logins to the Internet, you are strongly encouraged to do so. The
PlayStation 3 and Wii have free Internet capabilities, including multiplayer
gaming and Netflix streaming. These features are available on the XBOX 360 for
a monthly fee, though chat is available for free. With the right accessories,
the 360 and PS3 both allow for video and voice chats as well.
also have online capabilities. The Nintendo 3DS has passive online sharing
integrated into the hardware itself. With StreetPass, the 3DS automatically
shares certain data with any other 3DS within 90 feet. This
includes high scores and custom game information.
Two minigames are
actually reliant upon gathering “Miis” (player created avatars) from other 3DS
owners. Other Nintendo DS models use PictoChat, which allows users to send not
only text messages but to actually draw images using their stylus and send them
to other users.
Still other games
allow you to upload or download player-generated content. This is most common
in simulation or world-building games such as The Sims 3
. For example,
one player created a homeless family and maintained a blog about their
, and then allowed other players to download these characters
to let them loose in their own towns.
Understanding Multiplayer Games
The pièce de
résistance to Internet-enabled consoles is the ability to play multiplayer
games with family, friends, or even complete strangers. This may sound
unappealing, but playing against (or with) a real person provides a more
interesting experience, as live players are usually more intelligent or less
predictable than the system. Multiplayer games
may be cooperative or competitive. Co-op games (like Portal 2) focus
on working with another player to complete an objective, whether solving a
puzzle or defeating an enemy.
come in many varieties. Some involve competing to complete an objective first
or with the best score. Mario Kart Wii, for example, is competitive
racing. Competitive board-to-console games like Catan or Carcassonne
offer limited interactions with opponents. Your main objective is to have the
highest score by the end of the game, and any impact you have on your
competitor’s strategy will likely be an incidental benefit (like winning a bid
for a limited resource).
Other games, like Civilization V, offer more
direct interactions against other players.
Perhaps the most
common type of competitive game is considered player vs. player (PVP). In this
mode, you fight directly against other players, frequently in timed matches.
These games are often first-person shooters, in which you directly shoot your
competitors before they can shoot you. The Halo series is a popular
Many games will
incorporate both co-op and competitive elements. In Team Fortress 2,
players form two teams that compete against each other to complete objectives
(one mode is capture the flag).
Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMOs) also
blend co-op and competitive elements seamlessly. These games will be discussed
in more depth in next month’s edition.
So what’s the appeal?
enhance the gaming experience. Some games, like Portal 2 or Ghostbusters:
the Video Game, add extra story elements that are only available through
co-op (Ghostbusters, in fact, doesn’t even allow offline co-op). These
story elements are like an epilogue to an enjoyable book. The
creator of homeless Sims Alice and Kev has also offered them for other players
When players create
content for others to download it can change the game.
(and therefore free) downloads in The Sims 3 include characters,
clothing, buildings, and textures. Did someone create a particularly cool My
Little Pony t-shirt? Import it into your own game and dress your own character
in it. And as already mentioned, certain games on the Nintendo 3DS are designed
to be playable only with StreetPass turned on to gather other players’ Miis.
that multiplayer games may enhance offline relationships as well. Two
researchers at Brigham
discovered that fathers and daughters playing games together positively impacts
(although the correlation drops when the game is rated M). They
theorized that the relationship wasn’t present with boys in part because boys
were more likely to spend time playing multiplayer with friends.
supports this: more than 50% of boys responding to a survey
reported that they play video games because they “like to compete with others
and win,” and she cites one study of boys aged 14-15, which “found that ‘good
at computer/video games’ was second only to being ‘fun’ as a desirable trait
among one’s in-group members.” Elsewhere,
, “Nick Yee’s surveys of (mostly adult) online game players
also found that socializing was an important motivator. They enjoyed being part
of a team, helping others, and forging solid relationships. This suggests that
video games could play a role in healthy friendships for children and adults.”
When you consider that social network users actually have more
close friendships and social support
than non-users, it’s not unrealistic
to extrapolate that for many, playing multiplayer games online with people they
know in real life may strengthen those bonds.
Of course, one of
the reasons people like playing console multiplayer games is because you aren’t
required to coordinate with your friends in advance. Some consoles allow you to
quick-form or quick-join a game with complete strangers. With this, you get the
benefits of fighting with or against another human instead of the game’s
artificial intelligence, but you’re unlikely to interact with that particular
person again after the match is over. It’s the gaming equivalent of chatting
about the weather with the person seated next to you on the bus.
Potential Hazards of Online Interactions
As with any other
Internet-based activity, there are risks with online game interactions. The
information shown on gamers’ profiles is actually fairly limited (usually to
the gamer’ username, current game, and city), making it less of a risk than
some social networking sites, but the risk exists.
(Interaction with predators is a much greater risk in MMOs, so we will address
that topic in Part 3.)
One of the biggest
problems with console multiplayer games, especially when voice chat is enabled,
is the prevalence of bad language. This most obviously comes in the form of
curse words. In a game’s PVP mode, it’s not at all unusual for one player to
swear when killed by another player. Racist and sexist slurs may also be used
Depending on the
nature of the game, the nature of the language may change as well. A game based
in violence like Halo is more likely to result in expressions of
violence. The multiplayer mode of the sexually-charged Catherine has a
somewhat higher probability of resulting in sexually-charged commentary
(possibly sexual solicitation, if a male and female play together). Meanwhile,
interactions in a family-friendly game like Catan may be limited to
good-natured banter or perhaps simply a chatted “GG” (“Good game”) after a
As a general rule,
the higher the ESRB rating, the higher the likelihood of bad language and
negative interactions. As a parent, you probably don’t want your 12-year-old
playing the violent Team Fortress 2, both for the violent content and
the higher probability of language inappropriate for their age.
Inappropriate Player-Created Content
It’s a running joke
online that any game that allows players to create their own content will
result in the immediate creation of genitalia. While this is perhaps an
exaggeration, the risks are still very real. Some players of The Sims 3
have found ways to “enhance” created characters, continually pushing boundaries
in female clothing design. Although the majority will be fairly harmless
(player-created t-shirts for characters advertising the popular Twilight
movies, for example), and although reporting mechanisms for inappropriate
content exist, the fact is that such content is almost unavoidable.
As with any device
connected to the Internet, there is always a risk of your data online being
compromised. This was brought to the forefront in April 2011 when the
PlayStation Network was hacked
, revealing the data of 77 million users,
including credit card information. This is one of a number of networks that
have been hacked this year (in fact, members of the same group accused of
hacking the PlayStation Network plan to attack
Facebook on November 5
). As such, this should not be the make-or-break
criteria in determining standards for online game play. However, it’s worth
noting that every Internet-enabled device or online network that you join
increases your risk of data or identity theft.
What You Can Do
prevalence of Internet-enabled multiplayer console games, what’s a parent to
do? It’s easy to decide to forbid your kids from playing multiplayer online at
all, but there are more balanced approaches.
Write a gaming agreement
Before you set
limits for your gaming console, sit down with your kids and write an agreement
with them. Be sure to include details about who they can interact with and
whether they can use voice features. Microsoft
offers a sample pact
for you to fill out with your children. Putting it in
writing will help you enforce the rules when conflicts arise.
Set parental controls on your consoles
We mentioned last
that you can block games based off their ESRB ratings. You can also
set controls for online game play, including who your kids can game with. As a
note, the more limits you set, the harder it will be to join an online match.
Monitor what you can
If you use Covenant
Eyes Internet Accountability, check your kids’ Accountability Reports for
gaming websites and downloadable content. Not only will you catch any
questionable content that your kids have downloaded, you’ll have a better idea
of what games your kids like to play. If, for example, you’ve found them
watching YouTube videos showing strategies for games like Halo, you
can turn it into a conversation about the appropriateness of both the content
and the interactions.
And if you use the XBOX 360, the Gold Family Membership,
you can view reports about your family’s XBOX Live activities. (On a similar
topic, before the end of 2011 Android users should look for a brand new
Covenant Eyes app that monitors Internet use and the use of apps.)
Play with your kids
If the research is
, playing games with your kids may actually increase parent-child
bonds and improve their overall mental and emotional health outcomes,
especially between fathers and daughters. This addresses the other benefits of
more game content and more interesting game play as well. Playing games
online together also means that parents have a chance to be proactive about
dangers like bad language and harmful interactions.
As one gamer told me,
“Games, online or otherwise, should be treated as any other activity. Parents
should be wary of what they’re exposing their children to, regardless of what
form/medium it comes in. That said, exposing themselves to it (either before or
alongside their children) will help parents learn what’s going on and how best
to deal with it, rather than just avoiding it entirely and not knowing what to
expect when something negative happens.”
Not Just Child’s
Play: Massive Multiplayer Online Games, Addiction, and Predation (Online
Predators) (Part 3)
By Lisa Eldred
addiction, I hated, truly hated, going out with family during my ‘World of
Warcraft (WoW) time.’ I never organized anything with my friends, I sulked
about having to work during the weekends, and I dropped all my interests…just
because of WoW. I became withdrawn, irritable and lifeless.” “I’m moving to a
new job soon, my first job, the one with the degree I almost didn’t get due to
playing WoW instead of studying.” “My son committed
suicide Nov. 2010. His addiction to WoW had ruined his marriage.”
These are just a
handful of stories from World of Warcraft
players or their loved ones,
taken from WoWaholics.org
But they are also the sensationalist ones–the kind that get picked up by major
news outlets and daytime talk shows because they’re compelling, if atypical.
These are the stories leading to studies about video game addiction. And these
are the stories leading to the stereotype of gamers that they are, at 40 years
old, still living in Mom’s basement and living off a steady diet of Doritos and
Mountain Dew. But what does it
mean to be addicted to gaming? And why do Massive Multiplayer Online games
(MMOs) seem to lead to addictions?
The Risks of MMOs
As we’ve seen in
issues, video games have a number of risks ranging from inappropriate content
to harmful interactions, though there are positive elements as well, such as
teaching ethics and problem solving. In most console
games, both the positive and the negative elements occur in a controlled
environment. In Portal 2
, for example, the script is set in
single-player mode; parents can play it once and know exactly whether it is
appropriate for their kids. And in its multiplayer mode, parents can’t limit
the language another player uses, but they can limit who their kids play with.
like World of Warcraft, players enter fantasy realms and play as mythical
creatures, including Minotaurs. MMOs take both the
good and the bad aspects of other video games and magnify them. Most of the
popular MMOs, including World of Warcraft and the upcoming Star
Wars: The Old Republic, are role-playing games (RPGs), meaning they take
place in a live, shared virtual world. Each player controls one custom
character at a time. Often gamers will join a single gaming group (known as a
guild). These guilds schedule times to play regularly together, whether
competing in a tournament or conducting a “raid” on a dungeon in order to kill
a tough monster.
The online shared environment means your actions in the
game can impact the storyline or other players in the virtual world. It also
means there are few controls limiting who you interact with. Many games allow
you to block specific users after they contact you once, but there is nothing
to stop them from contacting you in the first place.
These very open
environments lead to enhanced experiences, both in the game and in some cases
in life. Many gamers consider other guild-members to be close friends, for
example. However, these same positive elements lead to an increased risk of
A Note on Addiction
compulsive, physiological craving
tolerance (needing a higher dose to get the same effect) following early use
and uncomfortable physiological symptoms during withdrawal
Often, those who
are accused of (or claim) video game addiction simply enjoy games as a hobby.
Gamers may play for hours on end, several times a week.
compares these people to a person who reads Bleak House
for three hours in the evening. That person would not be categorized as
“addicted” to Dickens. Olson similarly likens many gamers to those who memorize
sports trivia, collect memorabilia, and watch games for 3 or 4 hours: we don’t
call them addicts, we call them fans.
Even those who let
their gaming hobby affect their offline lives (like those quoted at the
beginning of this article) may not be “addicted” in the technical sense. For
many, it may have more in common with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Or,
extreme escapism through video games may be a symptom of a deeper problem, like
depression. That being said,
“addiction” is a reasonable term to describe a behavior that may be difficult
to stop, and therefore we will be using it in this article.
How MMOs Work to Addict You
doesn’t help that many MMOs actively condition you to keep playing. One needs
only to compare video games in general (and MMOs in particular) to the research
of B.F. Skinner on Operant Conditioning. Game researcher Nick Yee
explains Skinner’s research:
Skinner boxes are
small glass or plexi-glass boxes equipped with a combination of levers, food
pellets, and drinking tubes. Laboratory rats are placed into Skinner boxes and
conditioned to perform elaborate tasks. At first, the rat is rewarded with a
food pellet for facing the lever. Then it is rewarded if it gets closer to the
lever. Eventually, the rat is shaped to press the lever. Once the rat learns
that pressing the lever is rewarded, a food pellet does not need to be dropped
every time and the rat will still continue pressing the lever.
How does this
connect with games? Most games have a very quick rewards cycle at the beginning
of a game (level up and gain additional powers multiple times within the first
few hours). Eventually this basic rewards-structure will slow down, but by that
point most well-designed games will have additional goals in place to keep you
pressing the lever–goals like leveling up in a certain skill (by performing a
certain action a certain number of times), or like defeating a certain monster
who only shows up at a certain time to gain a certain piece of equipment.
These basic reward
cycles are common to all games; systems of trophies or achievements are
designed to force you to play for hours. You’re required to play each level in
the popular LEGO games at least twice to accomplish everything, for example.
Online games in general and MMOs in particular take this a step farther. Unlike
single-player console games, which you can put away for weeks (or years)
without losing anything in-game, many online games will actively punish you for
not returning to it regularly.
In the popular Facebook game Farmville,
you risk losing crops if you do not return to the game within a set timeframe.
Some MMOs incorporate similar “features.” At the least, they will introduce
regular expansions to the core game with new areas, character types, or
rewards. The most successful MMO, World of Warcraft, has released
three expansions since its original release in November 2004.
Then there is the
risk of ostracism. One of the biggest benefits of an MMO is the ability to join
a guild and go on raids in groups. Miss the occasional raid, and you’ll miss
the opportunity to gain valuable items, and fall behind other players. Miss too
many raids, and some guilds may even kick you out completely. This is
especially problematic for those who, for whatever reason, have migrated their
primary social interactions to these games. For them, setting aside the game is
akin to skipping out on the Labor Day barbecue or the weekly get-together to
watch football. Skipping once in a while is one thing; skipping regularly means
a loss of community.
MMOs and Escapism
gamers get addicted because a game is an increasingly rewarding escape from
personal problems. A writer
for gaming site Kotaku
, for example, talks about getting addicted to EverQuest
after his girlfriend broke up with him. As an extreme example, Langlois
overseas soldiers, whose jobs very literally have a high risk of injury or
death. It is natural that their hobbies would include games like World of
, which resurrects you moments later if you die.
natural, and in reality any form of escape, even “good” ones, may have
problems. (Any avid reader will tell you tales of staying up late to finish a
book.) The particular problem with using MMOs, however, is the inherent
addictiveness. Most gamer horror stories begin with a real-world problem. They
turn to their game as an escape and are increasingly drawn in; this causes them
to lose sleep or skip classes or work; they drop out of school or get fired;
they turn back to games.
On occasion, this will lead to questionable or even
criminal, behaviors. Skim WoWaholics
or WoW Detox
and you’ll see stories
of those who stole money to pay the monthly fee; on extremely rare occasions, stories
like this one
talk about turning to actual drugs as a result of gaming:
I found out that I
could make more money than any of the roomies by working 1 night a week so I
started working Saturday nights at a strip club (and I had always been modest
prior to this). It was perfect, about $1,000 a week, all the time in the world
to play WoW, my roomies were happy, and life was sunshiny.
While stripping, I
was introduced to cocaine! A drug that allowed me to play WoW even more! I was
hooked. As cocaine became too expensive, I was turned onto meth, which was less
expensive and kept me awake for up to 5 days at a time.
Extreme, yes. But
those who increasingly turn to games as an escape share a common story:
increased focus on the game came at the detriment of personal goals and
relationships. World of Warcraft did not fix the problems they sought
to avoid; rather, they exacerbated them.
The Tangled Web of MMOs and Predation
Because MMOs are so
social in nature, they can lead to predation
whether intentional or otherwise. Some predators
play online games in pursuit of grooming a relationship with a minor. In other
cases, a fellow guild member may strike up a friendship that turns sexual. Many
of these predators would not self-identify as sexually preferring children.
Instead, they first fall for the digital character, then the person behind the
character. When face-to-face interactions are introduced at a later stage in a
relationship, age becomes a secondary detail.
In two cases involving World
, for example, the children lied about their age to the
perpetrators. In one, a 23-year-old
expected to meet an 18-year-old
when in reality the girl was 14. In another
case, a 35-year-old who claimed to be 21 started conversing with a
15-year-old claiming to be 20
. This excuses neither adult, who both chose
to proceed even after finding out about their victims’ ages, but in both
situations it appears to have been about the person
first, not their
With stories about
addiction and predation filling the news, it’s easy to write off MMOs as
irredeemable. However, it’s important to remember that these cases are the
exception, not the rule. Most gamers play casually for an hour or two at a time
without being consumed by it. These people find that MMOs provide an enhanced
gaming experience in comparison to other games.
Adaptive Gaming Environments
single-player console games, the game world and storyline are comparatively
static. Portal 2 will never change, no matter who plays it. Even more
open-ended games like Dragon Age 2 will share certain essential plot
points, although some of the side stories and character interactions may differ
depending on certain choices you make.
MMOs, on the other
hand, don’t have strictly linear timelines, and player-controlled characters
vastly outnumber static, computer-controlled characters. Two separate guilds
may trigger the same quest, but because the people comprising each guild are
unique, their interactions with the plot lines are unique.
In addition, many
MMOs remain in active development after release. This means that they are
constantly working to create new quests or environments. Play through Portal
2 once and you’ve seen it all. On the other hand, it is virtually
impossible to unlock everything World of Warcraft has to offer.
In some MMOs, your
game decisions may even impact the game environment itself. Some players in the
, currently in beta, discovered a bug that allowed them to
drop items in midair. This allowed them to spell out words or create pictures
within the game environment which other players could come and view. The Glitch
developers embraced these
player-created art installations.
Group Collaboration and Interaction
The biggest benefit
of MMOs is the social aspect. Most MMOs have single-player functions; joining a
guild is not necessarily required to have a good experience. However, as you
level up, more emphasis is put on guilds and collaboration. This means more
than just teaming up to kill a monster. It means performing a vital role in
service to other players. Physically weaker healer characters, for example,
keep physically stronger fighter characters alive while they’re in the front
lines taking and dealing damage. In planning before a raid, players can work
out creative, tactical solutions that a single player likely would not discover
on his own.
often mean that complete strangers in different geographical areas can become
close friends. While these can be harmful to some people on occasion (as in the
cases of child predation, or simply neglect of non-gamer friends and family),
these can also be incredibly beneficial to some gamers facing isolation in
real-world communities. Langlois
that someone who is physically impaired may have limited mobility and therefore
limited real-world friends, but can get the social support they need from MMOs.
In addition, a
number of Christian guilds exist
, allowing Christian gamers to grow in
faith and community while playing MMOs.
Often, MMOs are
used to support real-world relationships as well. Many friends or couples will
go online together as a way to bond. While one Covenant Eyes employee was away
at college, he would play World of Warcraft with his brother for an
hour or two nightly as a way to spend time together despite being
What You Can Do
positive elements, some parents will (quite reasonably) choose to forbid their
children from playing these games. For those who don’t wish to do so, or for
gamers who choose to play MMOs, here are some steps to take to protect yourself
and your family from game addiction and predation.
Monitor Internet Use
One of the most reasonable
steps to take is to monitor the time you or your kids spend online and set
strict limits. The Covenant Eyes Filter allows you to set daily
or weekly time limits
. Once these limits are reached, the Internet is
automatically shut off for that user. Given that raids are often scheduled by
guilds as a group, it may be wise to allow your child to bank their weekly time
limit. Instead of an hour a day for an MMO, they may get more value out of
their time by playing for three hours on Friday and four on Saturday.
Don’t forget to
monitor Internet use. If your daughter seems to be spending all of her time
online playing World of Warcraft and staring at strategy guides, it
may be a sign that she has a problem.
Monitor Schoolwork and Outside Activities
As with many other
issues, if gaming is becoming a problem in someone’s life, then other areas of
life will suffer. Keep an eye on your son’s schoolwork, and consider setting
limits based on his grades. If he drops from a B average to a C or D and spends
all his free time talking about and playing City of Heroes
, you may want to give him
stricter time limits until his grade point average increases. If a friend of
yours plays an MMO and starts dropping out of real world activities, such as a
church group or movie nights, you may want to call him up and ask what’s going
on in his life. (Conversely, if your child is suddenly overachieving, it may
actually be a sign that she is
being groomed by a predator
Remember to look at
the whole picture when you consider these factors. If your straight-A son gets
a B in math but maintains high grades in his other classes, it may be more
indicative that he has problems with math than with World of Warcraft. And if
your daughter drops out of the track team and fills her time with MMOs, ask
yourself whether she actually liked track or whether she joined simply because
you asked her to.
Look for Outside Factors
It’s important to
remember that increased time gaming may in fact be a method of escapism from a
different problem in life. If you’ve determined that your child or friend’s use
of MMOs has become problematic, see if there’s a separate problem. Is your
child being targeted by a bully? It’s only natural he would retreat into a game
where his power is unlimited. Did your friend just break up with her long-term
boyfriend? Of course she would want to become someone completely different. By
identifying these underlying motivations for playing obsessively, you may be
able to help your friend or child solve their issues before they get truly
addicted to an MMO.
Get Professional Help
Remember, most addicts of any substance or
activity will not seek or accept help until they acknowledge they have a
problem, and you telling them they have one may only serve to make them more
resentful. If your child or friend appears to be truly addicted, or if you have
just discovered that your child has been groomed by a predator, you will help
them most effectively by acknowledging that the problem is beyond your capacity
and seeking help from a professional counselor or therapist.
Break Porn Addiction: 5 Lessons I Learned Along the Way
by James Tarring Cordrey
Years ago my wife surprised me with a direct
question about my use of pornography. What followed that question is known in
our marriage as “The Confession.” The brutal truth of my long addiction came to
light and a long, painful journey of healing began. As God has brought healing into my life, there are five key lessons I have
learned, and each one has been crucial to my freedom.
Lesson 1: I Had Been Lied To…
My culture, influenced by pornography, had told me all sorts of lies
about how normal it was to indulge sexual lust. Even though I was a
Christian who knew I wasn’t supposed to lust, I still allowed myself to be
persuaded that my urges were a sign of being a healthy man who had a normal sex
drive. Sure, I wasn’t supposed to look at porn, or masturbate to sexual
fantasies, but the pull of pornography was so powerful there was simply no way
to resist it.
But it wasn’t just secular culture that had lied to me. Christian culture
had as well. During those moments when I felt convicted about my sin, other
Christians counselled me by saying that the best I could hope for would be a life
in which I managed to keep it from getting out of control. There was no
discussion of actual freedom.
At one point in college I confided in a leader of my campus ministry that
one of my goals for the school year was to experience victory over lust and masturbation.
His response was: “It’ll never happen.” I realize now that I made a horrible
agreement with that lie back in college and I lived under it for a long, long
Lesson 2: Real Change Is Really Possible…
Shortly after The Confession, I realized that my theology had been warped. I
had come to believe that God actually didn’t transform people. I used to read
verses that spoke of new life and new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:4
and Revelation 21:5), and I never thought that what God was talking about was
The Christians I knew never really talked about transformation, and when we
encountered these verses in Scripture, they were usually explained away using
some sort of language of religiosity, so that I never saw what was plain: God
changes people. The pattern throughout Scripture is one in which people
leave behind their former way of life and cling to the hope and promise of
being made new and clean in Christ. I had missed that somehow. I had
missed the fact that the “newness” being spoken of was actually accessible to
Lesson 3: …But You Will Have To Fight For It…
Anything worth having is worth fighting for. This is certainly true of
freedom. Moreover, God identifies Himself as a warrior in Exodus 15:3, and
since I bear His image, that means I am a warrior as well. I had been taught
all my life that I should be the world’s nicest guy, and that meant I had no
idea how to fight for something that was important.
At my first counselling appointment after The Confession, the counsellor
asked me straight up: “How bad do you want to be free?” He challenged
me to adopt the attitude that I would do whatever it took to be rid of porn and
win back the trust of my wife. The counsellor was calling me out; attempting to
awaken the warrior within me. It worked.
Lesson 4: You Must Engage In Spiritual Warfare…
There is a reason Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 to put on the Armour of God.
There is a reason why Peter advises us to be alert that Satan prowls about like
a roaring lion seeking someone to devour in 1 Peter 5. We have a real enemy and
he hates us intensely because we are the image of God.
Fortunately, we have a conquering God. Nevertheless, in our daily experience
we still face the temptations presented to us by our Enemy who is constantly
lying to us about where life is to be found. In the days, months and years that
followed The Confession, I have learned how to pray against the work of
the Evil One and break the strongholds I have allowed him to build in my life,
focusing on 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. It has been crucial.
Lesson 5: It Really Is A Matter Of Life And Death…
On the night of The Confession, God made it clear for the first time that my
involvement with porn was actually killing me and my marriage. The
rage, disgust, anguish, despair and intense pain I saw my wife experience as I
told her about my addiction was a visual representation of the Scriptural
reality that sin brings death. Getting free, God told me, it was a
matter of life and death. It clicked for me that night. I started reflecting on
all the ways I had brought death into my life or my marriage by indulging in
I saw how my attitude, my selfishness, my treatment of others and
the ways I had failed to be an authentic man had all been shaped by looking at
pornography. And I realized that if I continued with pornography there was a
very good chance that I would end up in a situation where I would be in
physical danger as I looked for riskier forms of indulgence.
But the journey away from porn has been life-giving every step of the way. I
am truly alive now because of the freedom God brings. I recognize that every
temptation to lust or look at porn is an issue of life and death and I am
called to be a warrior in the image of my God, fighting for purity and freedom.
Underage Linking - Over 7 million kids are lying about their age to join
By Luke Gilkerson
It’s called “Smash or Pass.” Boys and girls
alike can submit a photo of themselves or someone else to any number of
smash-or-pass pages on Facebook. Others then stop by and say whether they would
like to “smash” (have sex with) or “pass” (turn down) this person based on the
submitted photo. As you can imagine, profanity and swarms of other crude
This is just a
sample of the adult content and culture of Facebook. And yet a recent survey
from Consumer Reports indicates that 7.5 million active Facebook users are
younger than 13 years of age.
Getting Around Face book’s Age Minimum
federal COPPA law—the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act - unless there is
parental consent, websites are not allowed to collect someone’s personal
information if they are under 13 years of age. Verifying parental consent can
be costly and involve some paperwork, so most online social networks like
Facebook simply do not allow children younger than 13 to use their services.
Face book’s statement of “Rights
” states clearly: “You will not use Facebook if you are
But all you have to
do to get around this age minimum is add some years to your birthday when
creating your online profile. And a
shows many kids are doing just that—some 2.5 million kids
10-12 years old are on Facebook, and another 5 million under 10. More
disturbingly, the same report indicates that parents are aware of this and they
do very little monitoring of what their kids are doing on their profiles. Only
10% of parents of kids 10 and under had frank discussions with children about
appropriate online behaviors and threats.
One Network for Adults and Children: A Recipe for
million people, children and adults, onto one social network, where anything
goes, will only exacerbate the online safety and privacy issues that are already
affecting our children on a large scale,” says Mary Kay Hoal, founder of
YourSphere.com, a kids-only social network. “This, to me, is a recipe for
Allowing your child
to use Facebook is similar to allowing them to use Google: the sky’s the limit
on what can be searched for. “You, or a child for that matter, can search for
something as simple as ‘Adults Only’ in the Facebook search bar and find
discussion threads filled with public requests for sex,” Ms. Hoal reports.
“Considering the blunt curiosity of children, they might use a more direct
search term like ‘boobs.’ This will result in several pages filled with
inappropriate photos and videos, as well as links to pornography websites.”
“Smash or Pass” are only the beginning of this dangerous cocktail. “It’s safe
to say that the culture of Facebook and the content on Facebook go
hand-in-hand,” Ms. Hoal notes. “Facebook users make Facebook what it is today.
Since the users are mostly adults, then it’s fair to say that the culture is
But my child isn’t like that…
says one reason why parents of young children are unconcerned about the use of
Facebook is because they believe their pre-teens are less likely than a
teenager to take risks. This may help to explain why only 18% of parents
were their young child’s “friend” on Facebook (compare this to 62% of parents
of 13- to 14-year-olds). Parents of younger kids do not feel their child will
do anything too concerning.
Mary Kay Hoal’
daughter was a typical 12-year-old who insisted on having an online profile.
But Ms. Hoal was not the typical mother. Knowing most social networks were
created by and meant for adults, she immersed herself in the world of social
networking so she could better understand its draw as well as its dangers.
What she has found
over the years both delights and frightens her. Online social networking can
bring many benefits to kids—education, connectivity, creativity. But she also
saw teens and pre-teens being exposed to a free-for-all adult culture without
And online privacy
settings are no guarantee. “Configuring the privacy settings on Facebook is no
easy task, so there may be overlooked privacy loopholes in a user’s profile if
they don’t take the time to go through every single option available to them,”
Hoal reports. And how many parents sit down with their children to look through
all the privacy settings anyway?
Even if parents
trust their 9-year-olds to not look for inappropriate material on Facebook,
often inappropriate content comes looking for them. Even with privacy settings
in place, Facebook users can receive friend requests from strangers and
invitations to check out adult-oriented applications. You may trust your kids,
but do you trust all your kids’ friends—let alone the rest of the world?
Lying is Lying is Lying
aside, parents who knowingly allow their children to create a Facebook profile
are either unaware of the age minimum or are encouraging their children to lie.
“Parents don’t teach their children to lie to get what they want—whether to
join a team, a school, receive a gift—so sending a message that it is
okay to lie to join Facebook sends the wrong message and compromises what a
parent has taught their child.”
, a social media researcher at Microsoft, says one of the reasons why
the 13-year-old-minimum law was drafted in the first place was so parents would
need to be more constructively involved in their children’s online lives. So
encouraging lying not only compromises a family’s value system, it also
shortcuts the reason for the law’s existence in the first place.
When Your Pre-Teen Wants to Be on Facebook
Ms. Hoal can relate
to the pressure a parent feels to let their kid get a Facebook account. “As a
parent that struggled with an underage child wanting to join an adult-intended
network, I can tell you that either the children are going behind their
parents’ backs (this happened to my husband and me despite the fact that there
are family rules and consequences), or parents haven’t had the opportunity to
learn about the health and safety issues that their children are susceptible to
She offers some
timely advice to parents: “If your child is under the age of 13, then just say no
Children need to learn that there are things they need to wait for.” Choose to point
your pre-teen in the direction of new social networks meant specifically for
their age group. There are many to choose from. Nearly three years ago Ms. Hoal
spearheaded the creation of YourSphere.com
a social network meant only for minors. Your child doesn’t have to pretend to
be 13 to join, and its editorial and law enforcement teams works to keep the
site safe and clean for all kids who join.
Chances are, merely
suggesting your child use an age-appropriate network may not work. After all,
being older than 19, you’re ancient in their mind, and therefore any idea you
have is probably not cool. Instead, Ms. Hoal suggests you ask your tween to
simply give you feedback about a new social network you’ve heard about. “It’s a
non-threatening approach. Typically, there isn’t a child/teen that will turn
away from the opportunity to tell their parent their idea stinks.” She reports
many parents have taken this approach, and as a result, their children have
found they really love YourSphere after they’ve had time to play around with
Still, when your child turns 13, they may want
to be on Facebook like all their friends. Diligent parents should keep in mind
that turning 13 doesn’t magically enable someone to handle all the
responsibility of using an adult social network.
He is seeking escape
Life is tough and there are many
responsibilities between work and family. Sometimes a man wants to get
away from this world and enter fantasy land. This escape takes his mind
off of things that cause pain or anxiety and provides him with pleasure.
As a wife, you understand the need to get away from the children or work.
This is much the same as he is seeking with pornography.
believe he is trying to get away from her, which might be true if she is a
contentious woman, but usually he is stressed about the cares of this world and
wants a brief escape. Try to provide an environment where he can talk to
you freely and without hesitation about things that are on his mind.
Listen to him and make sure he knows you are on his team and working together
He is wired to be visually oriented
Men are visual
creatures. We find what we like by site and feelings come later.
Women use their feelings to determine what they like then they translate that
into physical attraction. This being said, a man is usually always
scanning females searching for something pleasant to the eye. He gets
great satisfaction just from observation because he is stimulated by
sight. Using pornography develops his visual appetite and makes it more
satisfying and therefore he will keep going back for more. Don’t neglect
yourself physically and stop wearing nice clothes for him. He will notice
you more if you take time to get his attention.
He is hooked on the high he gets
Pornography has been
documented to mimic the same effects on the brain as drugs do. It releases
all kinds of feel good chemicals that provide lots of pleasure for a
while. It is so easy to get hooked on pornography for this very
reason. Men like the view and the feeling it gives them. You may be
a good looking sexy woman, but your husband will go to pornography for the
variety and to get his fix. I’ve seen men with very attractive wives go
back time and again to pornography. This is very hard to comprehend for a
feeling oriented woman. Many women will blame themselves because they
don’t look sexy as they used to, but the truth is, he is an addict and is
acting out of addiction and not directly as a result of your physical beauty.
He is searching for an intimate connection
Even though men are
visually oriented, deep down inside we are lonely and seeking an intimate
connection. If you and your husband have a rocky marriage, make love
infrequently or don’t take time to go out on dates and connect with each other,
he may be starving. It’s hard to understand how a man can get intimacy
from a video screen, but in his mind these girls are there for him and to
please him. They draw him into a false intimacy that he eats up if he
doesn’t have an intimate connection with his wife. It’s not just the sex
he is looking for, it’s the feeling of being wanted, appreciated and being able
to please someone else. If you can provide those things for your husband
he will rather spend time with you over them.
Wives, I write this from a man’s point of view to help you
understand where we are coming from. A man does not always look at
pornography as a direct result of something you have done or not done.
Sometimes he does it because it is what he has done for a long time, but other
times he does it because something is lacking or he is just plain stressed out
My best advice to you is to be sensitive to your husband’s
needs. Try to be understanding and let him get close to you physically
and emotionally. Also, make certain he knows you love him and don’t like
the fact he is using pornography. Try not to be confrontational but don’t
let him off the hook if you know he is looking at pornography.
the two of you can work through these issues and come out on the other side, a
stronger and closer couple.
4 Reasons Christian Companies Should Offer Accountability Software to Their
by Rev. Jon Gleason
The company for which I work first became aware of Covenant Eyes
some years ago when an
associated company hired an apprentice. The leaders of his church were
concerned about his computer use, and suggested Covenant Eyes to provide
This began a relationship which I have come to greatly value. My
company has a strong Christian ethic, and eventually offered Covenant Eyes to
all employees on a voluntary basis. At first, I was hesitant because
it seemed to intrude on my privacy, but I began to see it differently. As my
children have grown, I have valued it greatly, and our family uses Covenant
Eyes on all our computers.
I have become a strong advocate of accountability software. Companies invest
heavily in employees, but even Christian owned/operated companies often do
little to help their staff in this area.
This is spiritually and financially
short-sighted, as pornography and other Internet addictions destroy
productivity and health (spiritual, mental, and physical). The impact can be
far greater when addiction leads to divorce.
As a husband, father, pastor, and employee, I see four compelling reasons
for any Christian man to use Accountability Software like Covenant Eyes:
It is when you think you are strong that you are most likely to be weak (1
Corinthians 10:12; Proverbs 16:18). Each of us is vulnerable to temptation, and
we must be vigilant against spiritual danger (1 Peter 5:8). If I trust my own
integrity to keep me out of trouble, I lean on a thin reed indeed.
A very effective guard against temptation is a guarantee you will get caught
if you yield. Certainly, God sees what we do, but somehow having wives,
friends, or work colleagues know what I’m doing makes a big difference.
Accountability to God should be enough, but honesty compels us to
admit it often isn’t. As a result, knowing that someone gets a report if I
click on that link is a strong deterrent.
Accountability Software protects against my weakness.
Sin makes us stupid. Sometimes, we just sin even when we know we are going
to get caught. Maybe bitterness or anger tempts us to say, “I don’t care.” We
might even get so messed up that we sin just to hurt someone, and so
accountability prevention doesn’t help.
When a Christian gets this way, they need intervention. James 5:19-20 talks
of believers who sin and are rescued by a brother’s intervention. If my sin
generates a report going to a brother, I place in his hand a powerful tool to
sweep away excuses and address my great spiritual need.
Accountability Software equips my brother to intervene.
Timothy was to be an example to other believers (1 Timothy 4:12). By using
Accountability Software, my actions communicate. I say that purity is more
important than privacy, and thus by example I encourage others to take purity
seriously, and reject prideful spiritual self-sufficiency.
I live out the fact that we are family, not islands unto ourselves, and that
what we do, even in private, affects others. I demonstrate my unity with my
brothers, and my determination to involve others in my life. I live out the
importance of a strong marital relationship, and that trust is something to be
earned and protected. Even if I personally did not need the software, I would
use it as an example to encourage others who do need it.
Accountability Software gives a positive example of godly values.
If you want people to trust you, make sure they don’t have to. This is true
in financial, business, ministry, or sexual ethics. If you establish
safeguards, others gain confidence in your integrity. The more people don’t
have to trust you, the more they will trust you on those occasions when they
need to. Conversely, the more they do have to trust you, the more opportunity
for distrust to creep in.
Who, more than anyone else, do you need to trust you? Covenant Eyes is not
an expensive gift of love to give your wife. Even if you aren’t tempted, you
make it easier for her to trust you when she sees you establish a
safeguard to protect your marital intimacy.
Accountability Software builds trust where most needed–in marriages.
Prevention, Intervention, Example and Trust. I would never
say that those who do not use Accountability Software are sinning. What I would
say is that I am thankful that my company made it available, and there are
strong reasons for companies to consider offering it to their employees. I
would definitely say that any Christian man who doesn’t use it would do well to
take a second look.
. . . .
is a bi-vocational pastor in Glenrothes,
Scotland, pastoring Free Baptist
Church. He supports his
family by working as a computer programmer. He and his wife Terri have six
children. He blogs at