The Normalization of Child Abuse
As a “civilized” society, the idea that the brutality of sex trafficking and child sexual abuse becoming normalized, is abhorrent. Yet this is where we are as a country and throughout the world today. The movement to normalize deviant sexual behavior and to in fact, celebrate such as “freedom,” has created the environment where the most effective predators no longer have to hide but are free to perpetrate these atrocities in plain sight.
The trauma and pain suffered by these innocent victims is so destructive that many are unable to fully recover if they are ever rescued. These children, whom we as adults are ordered to protect, have been intentionally handed over to people whose only purpose is to use them for their own evil desires.
The Consequences of a Pandemic
The consequences of this year and the overly restrictive “lock down” and isolation procedures enacted by governments has created a vacuum for predation. The closure of schools, increases in online schooling and education forums, and an increase in unrestricted access to the internet, has forced victims or potential victims into close contact with predators. This, as well as the shelter in place orders, have forced victims into the constant presence of their perpetrators. This has drastically increased the number of victims, as well as the anonymity of their predators.
Perpetrators have also had an extraordinary amount of free time to increase their grooming tactics to lure victims online or to force compliance with their deviance. Technologically savvy predators have been able to spend an inexorable amount of time creating and consuming images and videos of child sexual abuse on the dark net. The recent arrest of hundreds of perpetrators and the rescue of hundreds of child victims, reinforces this truth.
Netflix and What?
Last month, Netflix released a movie poster for their new movie, Cuties. The backlash to this poster was immediate and brutal. Why? Because the poster showed young girls dancing in sexually suggestive poses. But this did not stop the streaming giant from releasing this movie. Instead, they apologized for the “grossly inappropriate” poster for the upcoming movie and replaced it, and the description of the show (Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions), with something mild and seemingly innocent.
When in fact the movie was release, it became immediately apparent that the original poster and movie description was accurate. They even go so far as to claim pedophilia is religion and therefore they are supportive of “creative freedom.” This movie is about a group of young girls who join a sexually suggestive dance troupe and learn to twerk, show their breasts, and grind. The movie is nothing short of soft-core pornography for pedophiles. And Netflix is proud of that. In fact the movie’s producer, outraged at the “accusations” of exploitation defends this disgusting main stream movie as a “feminist voice” that illuminates child exploitation. Crying that she just wanted to show people what girls go through and especially, what minority girls go through (her words, not mine).
Netflix has often been the go to for families to have a library of movies and shows that are appropriate for their children to watch alone. Turn on Netflix and just keep it on, not really monitoring the ads or what shows follow the initial selection. Because “Cuties” is marketed as a show meant to decry sexual exploitation, but in fact is the exact thing they claim to be railing against. This platform has become a haven for pornographic and sexually gratuitous shows marketed to a young audience and interspersed within seemingly kid friendly shows. This serves to groom kids into normalizing adult/child sexual behavior. It’s what predators do.
2020. The Year of Predation and Exploitation
While child exploitation and abuse has been a constant in the underbelly culture of this world, 2020 has seen it normalized and defended by the media and high ranking politicians. The rest of us who are guided by God, morals, and common human decency, are being shown, many for the first time, what the real consequences are when society excuses and ignores deviant sexual behavior. What happens when the same, protect and defend the perpetrators of such heinous behavior.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) has seen a 106% increase for global reports of online exploitation. In India, for example, there has been a 95% increase in online searches for child sexual abuse content. Other countries have also seen this increase in predatory behavior. This real pandemic has been receiving more attention over the last few years as a result of the arrest of Jeffrey Epstein, a prominent and well-connected pedophile who regularly flew high ranking entertainers and government officials, to a private island where hundreds of innocent children were brutalized by these men and women.
While Epstein died awaiting his trial, his former partner was arrested and hundreds of documents listing other perpetrators has been released. The torrent of identified perpetrators and what they had been doing began the end of July, when numerous government officials had explained to us would be the end of the constant lock-downs and restrictions from COVID. Yet he we are, 2 months after that, with never-ending extensions in Democratic run states, and what seems to be an enormous effort to ignore this damning evidence.
This is what these innocent victims are facing. Not just the devastating consequences to themselves and their lives from this trauma, but the reality that the people who are supposed to protect them, are in fact, protecting their perpetrators.
The COVID-19 restrictions have reduced the workforce available to identify and rescue these victims as well. The number of children identified and freed, has consistently been lower, with the exceptions of the large raids that have taken place, than in previous years. This means more victims are being brutalized and are unable to escape, than in the past.
As adults, it is our duty to protect children. This does not matter if they are your children or not. We are ordered to protect children and scripture paints the picture of what happens to those who hurt children. Many, if not most, adults, are more than willing to protect children but are unsure how to do so. I would like to lay out some steps that we as parents, teachers, coaches, and family members, should be doing to ensure our children are safe.
1. We should all be paying attention and be present. When something feels or seems off, it probably is. We need to stop rationalizing away those checks in our soul, our instincts, and start listening to what we are sensing.
2. Children do not need us to be their best friend, they need us to be the adults. Children have do not need unsupervised online time, nor do they need privacy in their social media. Children are not fully capable of understanding the consequences of what they are doing. This is why they need us. This goes beyond keeping electronics in common areas and refusing to allow unchecked phones and computers. It requires us to have the hard conversations much earlier than we think we should. By age 8, almost all children have been exposed to pornography. Waiting for the school to talk about sex, etc. isn’t going to protect them, and will not communicate your love and values to them. Talk to you kids about sex.
3. Children do not need to be treated like little adults. They do not need to be able to watch whatever they want, play whichever games they want, spend the night at whomever’s house they want, etc. Children need to be loved, respected, and guided. Take the time to know your child’s friends, and their families. Know your neighbors. Be engaged in their schools, with their teachers, and the after school activities. Lead their troops. Coach their teams. Go to parent-teacher conferences and ask questions. Our children need us to help them learn how to protect themselves, but they also need to know we will protect them from themselves as well.
4. Be present in every aspect of your child’s life. Listen to their stories, play with them, put your damn phone down and do life with them. If you are not in their life, they become easy targets and someone else WILL fill that void.
5. Stop forcing your children to hug/kiss/spend time with people they do not want to. A child should ALWAYS be able to say no. Even to family members. No child (or adult for that matter) should be forced to sit on someone’s lap, give someone a hug or kiss, when they don’t want to. This teaches them that they do not matter and that they have to do what they’re told, even when they are uncomfortable. This is how children learn to be compliant victims. They learn that what they feel and think doesn’t get to protect them. That they cannot set boundaries and say no to adults.
5. Finally, stop going with the flow. Stop complying with everything your told. Teach your children that just because an adult or someone in authority tells you to do something, doesn’t mean they have to do it. Children are not often victimized by strangers. Most often it’s the adults in their lives, older children in their lives, who are abusing them. Teach them that it is acceptable to disagree with an adult. That it is ok to tell an adult ‘no’ if that adult is demanding they do something that goes against their beliefs, what you have told them, or that causes them to be unsafe.
Children do not need to shut up and do what they are told. They need to understand that their body is theirs, and that no one gets to decide what they have to do. Adults are often wrong. Predatory adults and older children will ALWAYS make their targeted victims feel uncomfortable. ALWAYS. Children haven’t learned to ignore their instincts. They will tell you something is wrong if you take the time to listen to what they are saying.
Protecting children is not a suggestion. It’s compulsory. If you are not willing to change some parts of your life so that you can raise healthy and safe children, then don’t have children. Selfishness and parenting do not work together. It’s up to us to stop this downward spiral into normalizing and decriminalizing child exploitation and abuse. Take a stand for those who cannot speak for themselves. Fight for those who are still prisoners to their perpetrators. In doing so, you may save your own children as well. Show up, be present, and do life with your children. You will never regret that time. But you will live your life regretting what could happen if you don’t.
The Dirty Dozen 2020-List produced annually by NCMEC for companies that facilitate the exploitation of children
Protecting Kids Online: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/protecting-kids-online