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Protecting Those You Love in an X-Rated World

(Bridge-Logos)

 
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CHRISTIAN LIVING

Kids Bombarded by Porn

By Michele Washam with Tom Mooty

CBN.com – Some people simply don’t know what to look for in order to make sure pornography hasn’t gotten into their homes; some don’t even realize that it can get into their homes. Whether you’re raising girls or boys, there are signs and indicators you can look for and things you can do to take preventative measures.

Here’s a few of the obvious signs that pornography in some form may be leaking into your home and family:

Girls: An overnight personality change when it comes to clothing, hair, and makeup is a clue that something is not right. They’ll go from being comfortable in their jeans and T-shirts to wanting to dress more provocatively with high heels and tight or revealing outfits. They’ll either start wearing makeup or start wearing it heavier to emphasize certain features such as eyes and lips. Hair will go from styles they’ve always been comfortable with to requests for color changes, highlights, or sexy styles.

Boys: They’ll spend more time in their rooms with the door locked. Boys tend to keep their activities in this area very private.

Girls: If you want to know your daughter’s deepest secrets, read her notes or diary. I know that some people would disagree and object to this; but as a parent, that’s where you’ll find everything she’s thinking about. You simply have to weigh the consequences of not knowing what she’s thinking about against the possibility of saving her from serious consequences of acting on those thoughts. Perhaps you will even find that she’s doing fine and you can trust her.

If reading her diary can be done without her knowledge, this is best. If she knows you’re reading her most secret and guarded thoughts and actions, she’ll stop recording them immediately. Don’t let guilt stop you from peeking into her private life. You’re the parent, remember? Knowing what she’s into makes helping her easier.

Boys: More time than usual being spent on the Internet and a lot of time online late at night or when you’re not home. These are the times he can surf without worrying about getting caught.

Girls: Although girls are less likely to become obsessed with hardcore porn like the stuff you’d find on Internet porn websites or in adult magazines, they are likely to go for soft-core versions that are presented as “educational.” There are many magazines, websites, books, blogs (online journals), and social communities that offer females tips on being more sexually “desirable.”

Let’s address these problems from the standpoint of what your kids are being exposed to that will make them not only think about sex, but things that actually are a crossover into becoming sexually active.

Be On the Look Out for the All-knowing Friends

You might have the upper hand with your little girl when she’s at home. But then she goes off to school with the belief that the more she can get away with, the cooler she will be in the eyes of her peers. She hears how her friends are “sooo falling in love” and their guys “sooo love them back,” and they are going “all the way” and it’s “like, totally awesome!” Then comes the dreaded question: “Like, have you done it yet?”

Pow! The pressure is on your little girl to keep up with the crowd. When the young girl she’s talking to starts giving her details and telling her how much her boyfriend likes this or that, your daughter is probably trying to maintain her composure and her cool factor. She may even tell her friend she knows all about it, when in reality she probably doesn’t know zip!

So what does your daughter do now? She beelines it home and hops on the Internet and starts her research. She won’t have to look far because all she has to type into the search engine is one of the choice words or phrases that her friend used, and voila! Your baby girl has two gazillion pages of reference with illustrations and tips on "how to please a man".

Here’s what you can do to counter it: Communicate!! Moms, it’s time to do what we gals do best! Talk, talk, talk! A mom has two extremely important roles in her daughter’s life. The first is to nurture, teach, set the boundaries, and basically be a mom. To this day when I am sick, I want my mom. The second role a mom has to play is best friend. Then she has to know how to strike a balance between all these roles. In my house, we have “Mom is cool,” but we also have the “Don’t cross the line” thing going on.

After one of our discussions about the vulgarity of rap songs and rappers, my girls challenged me to try and make a rap that wasn’t vulgar in some way. Oh, girls, stand back! This is Mighty Mom you’re throwing that challenge down to! I began stomping my pink, fuzzy-slippered foot on the floor and clapping, and I cut loose the rap of the century!

Had my daughters not been rolling on the floor laughing hysterically to the point of choking, and had Mike not come upon this scene prematurely, I could have finished. Who knows, I might have started a new trend in music. Sometimes you just have to join the kids in their own games!

An open line of communication that can be both fun and serious is incredibly valuable. Once they know that you are way cooler than most “old people,” they’ll open up and start bringing those “pressure issues” to you because they realize everything you’ve told them has been right. Get to know you’re daughters and let them know you. When they ask if “you did this or that” as a kid, be honest. Then share with them the price you had to pay for what you had done.

Be On the Look Out for Sex in the Marketplace

Kids are exposed to an overtly sexual marketplace where the driving force behind the ads is “sex is universal, sex is cheap, and sex sells.” These sleaze marketers do everything they can to come as close to the fine line of acceptability as possible to utilize that marketing strategy. The problem is, no amount of money could possibly be worth the real price we pay for their garbage.

Here’s how you counter it: The second hardest thing after deprogramming their brains and draining out the junk their friends have filled them with is explaining why the things that are so popular are so popular. This can feel like a Porn 101 class in some cases. But it ties in directly with the “friends” issue because those kids’ parents let them wear the things that are being peddled through these sexual ads. 

Lay it out to your kids the way it is and answer their questions with accurate facts and details so they really have little left to argue about. Point out some obvious facts such as how their friend who is allowed to purchase and wear provocative clothing may already be sexually active. They might argue that this is not the end of the world, maybe even cool in their circle of friends. Counter with the fact that irresponsible sexual activity puts their cool friends in the high risk categories of unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and even sexual assault.

I tried and proved this method and it works every time. Let me take you on a little shopping expedition with the Washam family. Right before school starts, we take one weekend to go shopping for school clothes with our kids. I pack for the trip. First I bring a good book so I have something to read when I storm out of the store in a fit of rage and have to wait on Mike and the girls to finish. Then I bring a snack because, after all, he is shopping with two teenage girls.

Upon walking by the Victoria’s Secret store, my sixteen-year-old daughter spots the girl in the poster with a sheet of crinoline wrapped around her naked body, a pair of angel wings and nothing else, and says, “Oh, Mom! I want that!”

“Ashley, it’s white crinoline, for crying out loud! It isn’t even fabric. It’s supposed to go under the dress,” I reply sarcastically.

“I don’t care, I want one. It’s so sexy!”

Oh, Lord, this is going to be a long day! Could someone please tell me how I get hold ofthe guy who designed the Victoria’s Secret and the Abercrombie and Fitch advertisements? Just give me five minutes alone with him, just five.

After the first hour we had fought over T-shirts that barely cover the bosom from the bottom! Jeans that cut below the pelvis and a belly button ring; and, oh yeah, “Can I get an ankle tattoo?” I’m so out of here!

A few days later when I had stopped shaking, Ashley came upstairs and said, “Mom, ya wanna see my new pink top Mike picked out for me? It’s so cute! It’s even girly, so you’ll like it!” I glared at her, but she went and tried her “new pink girly top” on anyway.

After a full-blown runway fashion show in our kitchen, I had calmed down enough after seeing Mike’s choices for them that I was back to semi-normal (if that’s possible to achieve in our house just before school starts each year). “Ashley, do you know why I am opposed to you wearing the clothes you were picking?” I asked. “The people that design these ads want you to believe that by wearing these kinds of clothes that you can make boys love you. They are trying to convince you that love instead of lust is what will be the end result.”

“When was the last time Mike came riding up on a white horse with a rose between his teeth and swept me off my feet when I wore my Sponge Bob jammies?”

“Um, Ma! Those aren’t sexy!” they laughed.

“Yeah, but the girl who was wearing them in the advertisement made them look that way! She gave the impression that if I wore those pants, the man of my dreams would appear out of nowhere and my new ‘sexy jammie pants’ would make him want and love me.” I explained that advertisements often used the promised result of “love and romance” to sell a product, but that no outfit could make a person love another. They got my point.

Deflating the power of advertising in the mind of a teen is a tough thing to do when the kids around them are allowed to wear those clothes. Not all parents take the time to really consider how their kids will look in the style, and what type of image they are portraying. They either don’t want to argue with their teens, don’t care enough to argue, or feel guilty saying no. Guilt doesn’t come from God; if you’re feeling it, assume the devil is involved in the situation somewhere. Make your decision accordingly.

Be On the Look Out for Written Publications

When I was younger, I used to be an avid reader of Cosmopolitan magazine. As time went on, I noticed the material they were publishing was being directed at a younger crowd. It seemed as if the magazine was focusing on still younger and younger women like late teens to early twenties. There was little left for a thirty-year-old mother of three to benefit from. The articles and content were becoming more and more geared towards sex and promoting sex. Not just sex with your husband, but sex with boyfriends and articles about free-spirited women who had multiple partners.

I assume that the women who bought and read this magazine were old enough to make their own decisions. But the message I was getting wasn’t promoting a healthy or moral lifestyle, but instead a “party girl having a great time” type of message. It was definitely promoting a “Go out and have fun while you’re young!” kind of attitude.

Then one day while I was waiting on my husband to get his hair cut, I noticed a Cosmo Girl magazine and started reading it. Same message reworded for an even younger crowd, and my daughter had been asking me to buy her this magazine. Not!!

I picked up Seventeen magazine thinking it would be a little less “sexy” and found the same thing. Both of these publications were promoting sexy clothes, sexy shoes, provocative hairstyles, and performers, actors, and singers who weren’t sending a wholesome message of any kind.

Even the comics are sexually charged. I was recently exposed to a form of cartoon or comic strip called “Manga.” Like Japanese Anime, these cartoons are drawn with out-of-proportion body parts like huge almond-shaped eyes, large breasts, tiny waists, and long legs. Another form of Manga is the Pokemon character, the little yellow guy that looks like a devil.

There is something for everyone with this particular comic style—from Pokemon for kids to adult Manga which takes on a more pornographic style with well-endowed women dressed in next to nothing. Billions of dollars are spent each year on this type of comic. Not all magazines, books, and reading materials that are supposedly for teens are for teens. When a magazine is titled Seventeen, you would assume it is for teen girls. Do you see how deceiving these things can be?

Here’s how you counter it: Know what your kids are reading. Don’t just assume that because the title is innocent, the publication is promoting moral content. Look at the advertisements to see what types of companies and products they are supported by. Go to the library and borrow a copy of a book they want to read or go to one of the larger bookstores that allow you to read books in their stores. Get a copy of the magazine or book your kids are interested in and peruse it before you buy it.

If you discover undesirable reading material in their possession, take it away and stand firm on the rule that they are not permitted to read it. Make it perfectly clear to them up front that certain books, magazines, etc. are forbidden and anything that is questionable needs to be reviewed by you first.

Be On the Look Out for Television and Movies

I believe that there is enough information about this type of home porn invasion to fill at least a few books. It’s on almost every cable channel and network. Reality shows are way too graphic for any young person to sit and watch, and some of our kids are as addicted to reality television as they are to video games.

Here’s how you counter it: Know exactly what your kids are watching. Before you allow them to view a program or show, take the time to view it first. Go online and look up information, ratings, reviews, and descriptions of what they’re watching when you’re not around. On the shows or movies that are borderline in your judgment, watch them with them so you can discuss the story, the actors and actresses, and the acting, to see which part interested them the most. Then get sneaky with a counterattack of facts about what is fantasy and what isn’t.

A lot of kids aren’t interested in the program for the story line, but instead have special interests in or crushes on the actors or actresses playing in these shows.

These things are the major invaders of our lives. The entire family is exposed to at least one of the above every single day. By staying alert to how the industry is trying to get into your home to accomplish their “billions of dollars” of revenue this year, you can do your part to hurt them where it counts: in their pockets! Stop buying the videos, the games, the comic books, and the magazines that keep these companies coming back to our kids for more business.

Be On the Look Out for Video Games

As is the Internet, video games also are addictive. The games our teens are interested in these days are absolutely unacceptable. Have you taken the time to check out the games your kids are playing? I believe that if you did, you’d be shocked. Long gone are the days of Pac Man, Space Invaders, and Centipede. This generation doesn’t even know what pinball machines are, let alone how to play them.

Aside from the fact that the average game costs $50 or more, what the actual games are promoting is horrible. I’m not talking about the sports games; I’m talking about the other stuff like Resident Evil (all 4 versions), Grand Theft Auto, God of War, and Devil May Cry. All of these games are rated “M” for mature. You don’t want your kids playing them.

Grand Theft Auto–San Andreas is rated “AO” for Adults Only.

This particular series of videos has your character shooting police, high-jacking cars, and engaging in other illegal activities. There are highly graphic images with pornographic influence. Even though this game is rated for Adults Only, I only know kids who are playing it, all of whom said their parents bought it for them.

Sit and watch this video game in action and then watch the news. Do you notice the similarities? This is a real-life interactive visual that the kids with no at-home support or deprogramming can play and then go out onto the streets and think they can relive. And people say they wonder why we’re seeing such a drastic increase in juvenile crime!

Here’s how you counter it: There is really only one option here: DON’T BUY IT! My daughter brought home the first Resident Evil several years ago that she had borrowed from a friend. I was sitting next to the television on the computer when I heard all the ruckus and happened to look at what she was doing.

I immediately ordered her to shut the game down and return it to her friend. She then sat through a twenty-minute lecture on how that is inviting evil into her life and our home. She knew where I was coming from. A few years later she asked if she could play another game I was opposed to. I told her to go and show the game to Pastor Tom and see what he thought. She dropped the subject and it hasn’t come up again. There are plenty of games that don’t have sex or violence. Go online and review the games before you buy them.

Be On the Look Out MySpace.com—Breeding Grounds for Trouble

Each year the Internet brings new and exciting features. Some of the features enhance our lives and make it more convenient; others add to the list of worries we have with regard to protecting our children. Although these new services appear to be harmless and even fun, in reality they are dangerous to your kids and in some cases can be deadly.

Teens say that MySpace.com is the coolest hangout online. I have teens that have teen friends who all think this is the latest rave. On the surface, My Space appears to be pretty safe. It doesn’t allow members under fourteen to create a profile, it’s free and all the kids are doing it! My Space has security features in place like a feature that automatically restricts or privatizes the profile of anyone who is fourteen or fifteen years of age. This restriction means that the only ones who can access their personal information, which they input when signing up, are people who request to be added to their “list of friends.”

Wikipedia had this to say about the child safety on MySpace:

“Users whose ages are set at sixteen or over have the option to restrict their profiles and the option of allowing certain personal data to be restricted to people other than those on their friends list. Accessing the full profile of, or messaging someone when their account is set to ‘private’ (or if under sixteen) is restricted to a MySpace user’s direct friends. However, this does not work as children can misrepresent their ages to bypass restrictions.

“MySpace often has problems with profile identity theft. These are profiles containing the pictures and sometimes information of someone else’s profile. These stolen profiles are commonly used to advertise Web sites. MySpace will delete these profiles if the victim verifies their identity and points out the profile via e-mail.

“Recently, MySpace has been the focus of a number of news reports stating that teenagers have found ways around the restrictions set by MySpace, and have been the target of online predators. In response, MySpace has given assurances to parents that the Website is safe for people of allages. Beginning in late June 2006, MySpace users whose ages are over eighteen could no longer be able to add users whose ages are set from fourteen to fifteen years as friends unless they already know the user’s full name or e-mail address. Some third party Internet safety companies like Social Shield have launched online communities for parents concerned about their child’s safety on MySpace.” (see Note 1)

Here’s the problem. What if when your kids are signing up for this free, cool service they lie about their age? Click! Just like that their personal information is exposed for the entire world—including pedophiles, predators, and other bad guys—to see. Additionally, if they lie about their age, what else are they going to lie about? The answer to that is plenty!

It’s not my opinion, it’s fact. Listen to the news, or better yet go to your favorite search engine and look for “Articles about MySpace” and read them. I encourage you to search and read for yourself about the dangers of this social networking site.

Recently one of the kids in our church youth group sent me the link to his MySpace page. I had to go through all of the in-place security measures to be added to the list of people who could view his page. His mother monitors his MySpace activity very closely so he can’t add just anyone without going through a process of approval. This means that not anyone can see his personal information. After I jumped all the hoops to be one of his MySpace friends, I began looking around his profile and clicked on his list of friends to see if I would recognize any of the kids in his list. To my complete and utter surprise, there was a picture of my daughter using a name I never would have guessed, dressed in clothes I’d never seen before. Wait, it gets worse.

Her profile was not restricted, meaning everyone could see it which wasn’t so bad because it was all false information, including her age which she listed as sixteen years old. The explosion from our house was probably felt around the world. When the dust had settled and we were able to sit down and talk to her, she admitted she had made the page while visiting with a church friend after school one day. Her friend confirmed this.

I monitor my kids’ activity online very closely and knew there was no way she could do this from home and I knew that her school restricts access to pages like MySpace and YouTube. The only way she could have done it was from a friend’s house. Thank God I went on to look at the other kid’s page or I never would have found her page. In fact, I’m sure now that it was all God that I found it. The way she set it up was exposing her to unthinkable dangers.

I wanted to be able to list a bunch of ways to protect your kids from sites like MySpace, but the reality of it was brought to my attention by the same child who had violated the “No MySpace” rule in our house. 

I asked her to tell me how someone looking for her specifically, like me or her dad, would have found her on MySpace and she just told it like it was.

“Mom, if you don’t know the username and the e-mail address of the person you’re looking for it is almost impossible to find them because you have to search through tons and tons of profiles hoping they have a picture you will recognize.”  Straight from the “mouth of babes.”

The most effective way to protect them is to restrict them from this website. This can be done on the honor system with a warning and then trusting them to not go there. Or you can utilize a blocking program that will restrict access to any MySpace page including their friends’ pages. You can find programs to help you accomplish this in the resource chapter at the end of the book or on my website pornproofingyourhome.com.

There is still the possibility that your kids are going to go behind your back and access the MySpace Web site from a friend’s house. This is where aggressive parenting skills come in handy.

It is not a smart decision to allow your kid to visit with their friends when their parents aren’t home. It’s no different than leaving them unattended and unmonitored as was the case with my daughter and her friend. No one was there to restrict access to the material we do not allow her to access. Even though my daughter is a pretty good kid, when the temptation to go on MySpace was there and the peer pressure was on, she couldn’t resist. Kids will still be kids.

For more information about how to protect your family from the influences of pornography, check out Protecting Those You Love in an X-Rated World.  You can also visit, pornproofingyourhome.com.

 

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Adapted from Protecting Those You Love in an X-Rated World by Michele Washam with Tom Mooty, © 2007, Chapter 6. Used by permission of the publisher, Bridge-Logos. All rights reserved.

Notes:
1. MySpace. (2007, April 9). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 14:42, April 9, 2007, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=MySpace&oldid=121368819.

 

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