I've been restlessly cleaning out a closest because that gives me a positive outlet while my mind churns. I read another article (link at the bottom) that disturbed me while I ate my lunch today. Made me a bit sick to my stomach as well. It's yet another article about pornography and it's effect on the youth of today. Really on the whole world! This article focuses on addiction to porn and pre-teens leading to examples of a couple of very young men already listed as sex offenders in the UK because of accessing child porn on-line.
Sad. And sick that children given free access to the internet can sink this far on their own. The title of the article says, "Jamie is 13 and hasn't even kissed a girl..." And his parents had no idea until the police knocked on the door.
And that's not the most disturbing part. It's the strangle-hold that it's taken on his and many like him's mind and heart.
The other day I read something quite different online. A conversation about how a 12 year-old had asked his mom what 'pimp' meant because of seeing it in the name of an energy drink. It was a heart-felt conversation started by a truly caring mom and I totally get that, but it made me think about the disparity of her concern and what my children have known about much younger than 12 since they lived in a red-light district. Was I bad mom?
And then I read about 10 year-olds addicted to porn.
It's made me wonder what the balance is. I totally get the concept of 'age appropriateness' and don't want my children to know things that they don't need to yet. Yet, I wonder if it's only been in recent times and in the First World that we've had the luxury of this since throughout most of history life has been more raw, less sanitized, more 'in your face.' This is still true in poor areas today.
I'm thinking that we as First World Christendom may not have the balance quite right.
Not that I know exactly WHAT the balance is!
Another conversation that's stuck with me recently was a young lady who asked me how our kids are adjusting to being in New Zealand. She asked really good, probing questions and I found myself trying to explain to her the burden that it really is for our kids to have seen what they've seen and to know what they know and then try to 'fit' back in with youth who have never had the privilege of developing a broader world view.
Because it IS a burden. A burden that won't let them laugh at jokes that people don't even realize are offensive, to just 'be kids' and have fun at times. They've all expressed to me the relief of finding someone who will really talk 'about stuff' to them when they've been in social situations that are meant to be just fun. Fun is good in balance, but they know that LIFE is serious and meant to be addressed in doses as well.
Do I think all kids should have seen first-hand and understand some of the depths of depravity that our kids do? Probably not.
Yet, I read about 10 year-olds addicted to hard core porn. Boys who want to strangle and beat women because of what they've seen. And they still have never had their first kiss.
This is real. This is the modern world at the touch of our fingertips. And I think 12 years-old is just too late to find out what a 'pimp' is.
I heard about how babies are made when I was 6 on the playground at school. I had my first Playboy Centerfold thrust in my face by another girl who had brought it to impress the boys when I was 8 at the school bus stop. And those were much gentler days. And my parents didn't know.
Yet that is NOTHING to what our kids face today----unless we keep them locked in a cage. It's just too much EVERYWHERE. Billboards, advertisements, posters in the store, the checkout line. And then there are smart phones and children who are just curious to start with. (By the way, I've easily been able to get around every parental control that we've found into at least somewhat questionable content! It would keep out hard core porn, but it doesn't block it all.)
Our children are AWARE whether we think they are or not.
My sons don't have unsupervised access to the Internet at all and this is only possible because they're currently being homeschooled. And may not be totally happening at the houses of friends. This is partly at the request of our 15 year-old because he's seen things that originated on-line with other kids that he wishes he hadn't. And because he knows and loves women who have been abused and had their innocence, health, freedom, and lives stolen from them. It's not just an exercise in morality to him, it's up close and personal and has to do with the lives of real flesh and blood people.
At some point before he leaves home we'll need to give him more freedom and somehow help him through the minefield of on-line access and the responsibility involved. But I hope and pray that since he has a huge awareness that this is more than just 'dirty', that this is real people's lives destroyed and dehumanized, that that will help him in the battle for his mind and help him establish life-long patterns of self-control. And that he will not be able to shake the feeling of disgust if he slips up, so he will ask for help before it gets very far.
Maybe this is what we need more of? More conversations with our kids about things that destroy. Less thinking that our kids are probably 'fine' and only bringing up subjects that are comfortable. More helping them understand that an image on the screen is real. That those women have been used and abused and that if they participate by looking that they're part of it. By doing something to be the change (like FS or the like) to make them more aware.
And younger than we think we 'need' to.
A friend on Facebook posted this article today. It's about not giving anything to street kids who beg in foreign lands and why. This is so not rocket science to me after the places that I've lived, so I was shocked at the responses from her friends that have obviously NEVER heard this before! But they've obviously never been in a place to learn.
But our children ARE in a place to be taught about the shadow world of on-line pornography and the real-life outworkings of this. They need to be a bit horrified. They need to know stories of women and children that this has affected so they can never see it just as an image on a screen. That's why sin 'against their own bodies' (I Cor. 6:18) is so terrible. It's not only their bodies, His temple on Earth, made in the image of God, it's always about other people's bodies and souls as well. It may appear to be 'private' since it can happen physically alone, but it's not sin in a vacuum.
I've witnessed how pornography changed someone I knew well forever. How the images they'd seen just don't leave and how it's such a struggle to just enjoy a 'normal', amazing, God-given relationship. So painful! It's a fierce struggle for the rest of their life. And so unnecessary. I don't want that for anybody.
But why is this issue so stuck in my craw at the moment? Probably because for the last four years our family has been focused on women who have been trafficked, objectified, and unthinkably used and abused in a place where that's just the way that it's always been. I've seen how hard it is to change acceptance of that. How things can be done towards change, but how it's so entrenched that it's going to take a lot of time to heal. We're talking generations really.
And it horrifies me to think that the current generation world-wide is sliding back down that slippery slope so quickly and silently. The problems in society that this will cause. They're going to treat each other as meat. They're going to be robbed of the precious joy of innocence and not be able to just give of themselves in purity to a level much more heinous than a few Playboy images. Hard core porn as a 'how to'. Women are going to be much more objectified than just the pressure to look like the magazine.
The Enemy must be so happy.
I sure don't have the answers to what the right balance is. But we are inexcusably naive if we don't step up in our modern world and ask the questions. "If I don't think about it it will just go away," won't work. It's not just outside the door any more and our kids are suffering because of it. They need to be prepared well before leaving even the most protected nest to withstand this one. And if it already hasn't, it's going to hit close to home for all of us.
And I'm not overreacting.
But once again that's going to make Light shine all the brighter in the darkness. And hopefully since the darkness is truly dark, some won't be as easily fooled into thinking that it's grey.
The article that started me thinking today.
(Warning: while this article is an eye opener, since it's from a mainstream source there are images of movie star cleavage, etc, on the side bar. )
Now lest this blog has left you feeling hopeless or touched a bit too close to home, then take a couple of minutes and listen to this song. Scroll down the page and click on song. Been singing this all day myself!