Friday, April 30, 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Principal Asks Parents To Ban Social Networking

Apr 29, 2010 6:46 am US/Eastern
NJ Principal Asks Parents To Ban Social Networking
Benjamin Franklin Middle School Chief Says Students Should Be Cut Off From Facebook, Text Messaging
Lou Young

A controversial proposal has students horrified at a Bergen County middle school on Wednesday. The principal is asking parents to join a voluntary ban on social networking.

Eighth grader Ali Feinberg told CBS 2 she uses her iPhone to check her Facebook account "a lot" and some of her friends said the same. Now all have to talk to their parents about getting off the popular social network. It won't be easy.

"I am very addicted to Facebook," Feinberg's classmate Elizabeth Dolan told CBS 2.

Anthony Orsini, the principal at Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, sent out an e-mail Wednesday morning asking parents to help him get all of his students off social networks and keep careful track of their text messages.

"Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today!

"Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online! You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider.

"Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control Software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend. Don't install it behind their back, but install it!"

Although Orsini's e-mail is just a request, not an order, it's language is blunt:

"It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand! There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!

"Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None."

He said the sites have become a tool for children to do psychological harm to each other, often anonymously – a trend known as "cyber-bullying."

"Rumors used to be some mean girl says something in the hall, but now it's out there for the whole world to look at," he told CBS 2.

Middle schools have always had drama and emotion, but the social networks amplify them to such an extent that guidance counselors there said it's become a menace to their students.

Meredith Wearly, the school's guidance counselor, said about 75 percent of her day is spent dealing with social networking issues with students.

Since the e-mail has gone out, the principal said the reaction has been generally positive. But the truth will come when individual negotiations take place between parent and child to get them off Facebook.

Feinberg said she plans to argue the issue with her parents. "I'm not going to do anything bad, so why should I get rid of it?" she said.

There are 700 students at Benjamin Franklin Middle. Parents of more than 20 have already responded to the e-mail, and Orsini said he's heard no adult opposition to the idea.

Below is a copy of Orsini's entire e-mail:

Dear BF Community,

In 2002 when I arrived in Ridgewood Facebook did not exist, Youtube did not exist, and MySpace was barely in existence. Formspring (one of the newest internet scourges, a site meant simply to post cruel things about people anonymously) wasn't even in someone's mind.

In 2010 social networking sites have now become commonplace, and technology use by students is beyond prevalent.

It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand!

There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site!

Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None.

5 of the last 8 parents who we have informed that their child was posting inappropriate things on Facebook said their child did not have an account. Every single one of the students had an account.

3 Students yesterday told a guidance counselor that their parents told them to close their accounts when the parents learned they had an account. All three students told their parents it was closed. All three students still had an account after telling their parents it was closed.

Most students are part of more than one social networking site.

Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still) and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social networking site. Today!

Let them know that you will at some point every week be checking their text messages online! You have the ability to do this through your cell phone provider.

Let them know that you will be installing Parental Control Software so you can tell every place they have visited online, and everything they have instant messaged or written to a friend. Don't install it behind their back, but install it!

Over 90% of all homework does not require the internet, or even a computer. Do not allow them to have a computer in their room, there is no need.

Know that they can text others even if their phone doesn't have texting capability, either through the computer or through their Ipod touch.

Have a central "docking station" preferably in your bedroom, where all electronics in the home get charged each night, especially anything with a cell or wifi capability (Remember when you were in high school and you would sneak the phone into your bedroom at midnight to talk to you girlfriend or boyfriend all night - now imagine what they can do with the technology in their rooms).

If your son or daughter is attacked through one of these sites or through texting - immediately go to the police! Insist that they investigate every situation. Also, contact the site and report the attack to the site - they have an obligation to suspend accounts or they are liable for what is written.

We as a school can offer guidance and try to build up any student who has been injured by the social networking scourge, but please insist the authorities get involved.

For online gaming, do not allow them to have the interactive communication devices. If they want to play Call of Duty online with someone from Seattle, fine, they don't need to talk to the person.

The threat to your son or daughter from online adult predators is insignificant compared to the damage that children at this age constantly and repeatedly do to one another through social networking sites or through text and picture messaging.

It is not hyperbole for me to write that the pain caused by social networking sites is beyond significant - it is psychologically detrimental and we will find out it will have significant long term effects, as well as all the horrible social effects it already creates.

I will be more than happy to take the blame off you as a parent if it is too difficult to have the students close their accounts, but it is time they all get closed and the texts always get checked.

I want to be clear, this email is not anti-technology, and we will continue to teach responsible technology practices to students. They are simply not psychologically ready for the damage that one mean person online can cause, and I don't want any of our students to go through the unnecessary pain that too many of them have already experienced.

Some people advocate that the parents and the school should teach responsible social networking to students because these sites are part of the world in which we live.

I disagree, it is not worth the risk to your child to allow them the independence at this age to manage these sites on their own, not because they are not good kids or responsible, but because you cannot control the poor actions of anonymous others.

Learn as a family about cybersafety together at for your own knowledge. It is a great site. But then do everything I asked in this email - because there really is no reason a child needs to have one of these accounts.

Please take action in your on home today.

Anthony Orsini
Principal, BFMS

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Kids Gone Wild, Parents Gone Missing

Richard Cohen from the Washington Post has hit the nail on the head today with his column, entitled: Kids Gone Wild, Parents Gone Missing.

Kids gone wild, parents gone missing

By Richard Cohen
Tuesday, April 6, 2010; A13

It is either significant or merely interesting that William Golding dedicated his classic, "Lord of the Flies," to his mother and father. It is precisely the absence of parents, or any adult actually, that enables the boys of the island to descend into savagery, and it is the sudden appearance of an adult at the end that restores what we would now call law and order. This tale, way before its time, was a precursor to South Hadley High School in Massachusetts and the suicide of Phoebe Prince. It was the only way she could get off the island.

After a lengthy investigation, District Attorney Elizabeth D. Scheibel had nine students arrested on criminal charges. At the same time, she alleged that while the teenagers had tormented Phoebe to the point where she hanged herself, teachers and administrators were somehow complicit because they knew -- or should have known -- that Phoebe was being bullied by a coterie of aspiring fascists. Phoebe was a newcomer from Ireland and thus, as anyone with the slightest novelist bent would know, the stranger with no champions, no defenders and, in her mind, no way out.

This appalling story, seemingly concocted for the "Today" show's heavy-eyed audience, has of course created quite a stir because it is about cruelty, which we do not understand; lack of empathy, which we find frightening; and conformity and coercion. But mostly it is about how little we know our kids, the little beasts who live among us and can sleep with a teddy bear by night and text-message a 15-year-old colleen to her death by day. Who are these kids?

You will notice that in all the finger-pointing -- the students, the teachers, the administrators -- not a digit is aimed at the parents. Their children are accused of hounding a classmate to death and the parents apparently knew nothing. Not only that, they are somehow not expected to know anything. The teachers are supposed to know what's going on. The principal. Maybe even the school nurse. But the parents? No. They're off the hook.

Not as far as I'm concerned. This tendency to blame teachers or administrators for all that happens in the schools is both unfair and unrealistic. Jaime Escalante, who died just recently, proved that a great teacher can make a great difference (he was the inspiration for the movie "Stand and Deliver"). And we know, too, the central importance of good principals. But parents, too, are important -- most important -- yet they, of course, cannot be fired. They have tenure.

Philadelphia has been the lucky host for a series of mini-riots. These are violent variants of the "flash mob," in which, in this case, throngs of youths assembled by text message so that they could then run amok through downtown areas, looting and assaulting to their hearts' content. As could be expected, some people do not think that either the kids or their parents (if any) are responsible. They point instead to the lack of funding for sufficient youth violence prevention programs. Mine, as I recall, was a withering look from my father.

No district attorney is going to call a public meeting to berate parents for not knowing what their junior sadists are up to. That would be politically perilous and, besides, somehow teachers have a contractual obligation -- we pay 'em, don't we? -- to know what the children are up to while the parents are busy. Mothers are moms, after all, and therefore sacrosanct. As for fathers -- well, where the hell are they, anyway? We fail schools but never parents.

I am the emeritus parent of a former teenager, and so I know the difficulties. Teenager is a synonym for crazy, and their world is too often nuts -- superficial, cruel, conformist, hedonistic and self-absorbed; they're convinced by virtue of their spending power of their importance and judgment. (I am exempting your own child from this blanket indictment.) But however the criminal case turns out, the South Hadley Nine clearly needed some parenting -- some intercession or maybe, even probably, a parent to do what their child all the time wanted: force them to stop.

Golding's book is about evil. Kids can be mean. They want to belong. They mistake the strength of empathy for weakness. They need help. An invisible umbilical cord should connect them to a mature conscience. At South Hadley High School, the kids were running the island and the adults were missing. Where were the teachers? Where was the principal? But where, above all, were the parents?

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

For Those Concerned About the Effects of Pornography--Excellent Resource to Read

This is an excellent resource by Pat Fagan of the Family Research Council. Following is the executive summary. To read the full PDF document, click here.

by Patrick F. Fagan, Ph.D.


Pornography is a visual representation of sexuality which distorts an
individual’s concept of the nature of conjugal relations. This, in turn, alters both
sexual attitudes and behavior. It is a major threat to marriage, to family, to
children and to individual happiness. In undermining marriage it is one of the
factors in undermining social stability.

Social scientists, clinical psychologists, and biologists have begun to clarify some
of the social and psychological effects, and neurologists are beginning to
delineate the biological mechanisms through which pornography produces its
powerful negative effects.


  • Married men who are involved in pornography feel less satisfied with
    their conjugal relations and less emotionally attached to their wives.
    Wives notice and are upset by the difference.
  • Pornography use is a pathway to infidelity and divorce, and is frequently
    a major factor in these family disasters.
  • Among couples affected by one spouse’s addiction, two-thirds experience
    a loss of interest in sexual intercourse.
  • Both spouses perceive pornography viewing as tantamount to infidelity.
  • Pornography viewing leads to a loss of interest in good family relations.

  • Pornography is addictive, and neuroscientists are beginning to map the
    biological substrate of this addiction.
  • Users tend to become desensitized to the type of pornorgraphy they use,
    become bored with it, and then seek more perverse forms of pornography.
  • Men who view pornography regularly have a higher tolerance for
    abnormal sexuality, including rape, sexual aggression, and sexual
  • Prolonged consumption of pornography by men produces stronger
    notions of women as commodities or as “sex objects.”
  • Pornography engenders greater sexual permissiveness, which in turn
    leads to a greater risk of out-of-wedlock births and STDs. These, in turn,
    lead to still more weaknesses and debilities.
  • Child-sex offenders are more likely to view pornography regularly or to
    be involved in its distribution.

  • Many adolescents who view pornography initially feel shame, diminished
    self-confidence, and sexual uncertainty, but these feelings quickly shift to
    unadulterated enjoyment with regular viewing.
  • The presence of sexually oriented businesses significantly harms the
    surrounding community, leading to increases in crime and decreases in
    property values.
  • The main defenses against pornography are close family life, a good
    marriage and good relations between parents and children, coupled with
    deliberate parental monitoring of Internet use. Traditionally, government
    has kept a tight lid on sexual traffic and businesses, but in matters of
    pornography that has waned almost completely, except where child
    pornography is concerned. Given the massive, deleterious individual,
    marital, family, and social effects of pornography, it is time for citizens,
    communities, and government to reconsider their laissez-faire approach

Read the full paper here

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Some Good News About the Internet!!

Turns out the Internet is good for our brains! This is exciting news, especially for older folks who want to keep their minds sharp. Visit this link for more info.

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Occult Link to Slayings

Pentagrams, goat heads, the Church of Satan. Don Rimer knows a lot about such things.
The retired Beach police detective is an expert on occult crime and has been called by Virginia State Police to go to Farmville to help analyze the deaths of four people whose bodies were discovered Sept. 18 in the small college town west of Richmond.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

A Lesson from A Mom--Grateful her Son is Alive after Video Stunt Goes Wrong

Read this letter from a mom who is thankful her son is alive after his attempts to "Free Run," which is something he had seen on You Tube, and was trying to emulate. It went terribly wrong, and I appreciate this mom's letter so I can pass it along to my kids.


Our son was trying to "FREE RUN". It's a new thing on You Tube, again called FREE RUNNING. You're supposed to jump off something as high as you can find, start running in the air and it gives you more momentum. In my son's case, he jumped off a shed at a nearby park, about 12-14 feet high.

Once he realized he wasn't going to make the fall the way he wanted to, he reached out for the netting over the batting cages. This gave more of a trampoline type effect and propelled him into the air. He landed on the back of his head first. (These are the details from his friend who was with him at the park and Thank God, immediately called 911 when our son wasn't responding. He said when our son landed, his eyes rolled back, his tongue was sticking out and he kicked off his shoes. After that, he was out cold. Our son remembers none of this and probably never will according to the Trauma team from the hospital.)

His care was immediate and impeccable.(They wanted to heliport him to Children's but the weather was too bad.They were entirely prepared and waiting for him when the ambulance reached Children's Hospital.) He was unconscious the first time for 5-6 minutes and then in and out of it for the next few hours. His fracture was straight and clean so no surgery necessary. After he was treated at the trauma center he was admitted to ICU. The next 24 hours were the most critical and Thank God they're behind us now. No bleeding and none anticipated after 24 hours. He's still very sleepy and his head still hurts even though he's on Oxycotin. Again, that's a good thing though because he's feeling it.

Last night we learned from our son that there was a college sophomore at the park who approached both boys about being a part of his FREE RUNNING short video for You Tube. In no way am I blaming anyone other than my son for his own stupid choice but at the same time think it's important to share with you what we've learned the hard way. (We will be having a conversation with the guy who is planning to make the video short about the impact a college sophomore's words can have on 14-15 year olds!) Please share our son's story with your kids, friend's kids, their freinds, etc.... To quote the neurosurgeon at Children's Hospital, "Scare the Hell out of

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Friday, June 19, 2009

On You Tube, Porn Runs Rampant...

Eye-Opening YouTube
Friday, June 19, 2009
By L. Brent Bozell III

Pornography is no longer a poison creeping into the crevices of our popular culture. It is part of the very fabric. One sensation at a recent Apple conference for new and developing applications in San Francisco was the “i-Porn bikini girls” advertising free X-rated films for your i-Phone. It sounds like a whole new reason to fear people using their mobile phone while they drive. Free porn sites are all over the Internet now, with zero restrictions or minimal electronic barriers against curious children who might be in for a very crude shock within seconds, just with the still photos on the home page. Even the most mainstream of video sites are inundated with pornography and its promoters. YouTube touts itself as the world’s most popular portal for Internet videos. It has become so big it’s even promoting a new technology called YouTube XL to put its videos directly on your big-screen TV. A new study by Matthew Philbin and Dan Gainor of the Culture and Media Institute (CMI) found that YouTube is stuffed with porn videos. But a search for the word “porn” found more than 330,000 results. Out of the 157 “porn” clips that received more than 1 million views, almost two-thirds (101) advertised themselves to be actual pornography. Those 101 videos had 438,318,147 combined views – or 1.38 views for every man, woman and child in the United States. YouTube claims it’s “not for pornography or sexually explicit content.” It’s just not against it, either. Pornographers of all kinds exploit YouTube to drive traffic to their sites and products. Twelve percent of those 101 videos mentioned porn stars by name or were obvious clips from porn movies. In addition, there were thousands of videos and repeated comments that served only as advertisements for hardcore-porn sites, “dating” and escort services, and phone sex lines. Particularly troubling are animated videos listed under “porn.” Several videos put profanity and sex talk over classic Disney cartoons, like one called “Aladdin Porn.” (Disney ought to be the first powerful player putting a stop to that.) Fans of Japanese anime cartoons can find the animated porn called “hentai,” and skip over the 18-plus barrier or gravitate to hard-core sites the same way they could access live-action sex clips. CMI also found that gay content, including pornography and ads for gay escort services, are rampant. There are 11,900 gay channels on YouTube, including 459 “gay porn” channels. A search for “gay porn” returns 52,700 individual videos. YouTube even promotes homosexuality on the home page. On the night of June 17, one featured video was a promo for a cheesy new British movie called “Lesbian Vampire Killers.”

YouTube tells parents that its site is not appropriate for children under 13, but few videos are age-restricted. Some objectionable videos are flagged by users as adults-only. But all that’s required is to register and state that you’re over 18. That’s not encouraging when nearly half of boys and a third of girls ages 13-17 name YouTube as one of their top three favorite websites, and they can watch it anywhere on laptop computers and cellular phones with Web browsers. Computers are commonplace in public schools and libraries that may not have much adult supervision. Besides, is YouTube seriously suggesting that porn is inappropriate for 13-year-old children but it’s okey-dokey for them at age 14? After the Parents Television Council complained last December, YouTube implemented some reforms. Take profanity. Without parental supervision, every imaginable obscenity, including graphic sexual language, is rampant on the site. The F-word alone appeared in the titles of some 169,000 individual videos. YouTube recently offered parents a tool for filtering out dirty words (and even hiding all comments on video clips), but that protection only comes when vigilant parents look for it. Last year, the search an innocent child would make for Disney Channel pop stars like Hannah Montana drew not only profane comments, but inappropriate advertisements for horror movies. A search for Hannah Montana today finds only advertisements for J.C. Penney and other Disney child stars, so that’s an improvement. But as the CMI study insists, YouTube must construct “a far more formidable barrier” than its easily entered 18-plus category to protect children from graphic sexual content that parents wouldn’t want their children to view. Just as a parent wouldn’t let their child wander through a seedy neighborhood of sex shops, it’s now impossible for parents to avoid watching their children carefully negotiate the Internet. Isn’t there anyone in the corporate power structure at YouTube who worries about what their own children can find on their creation?

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Teen Rapes and Murders 8-month old

West Bank teen arrested in rape and murder of 8-month-old
by C.J. Lin, The Times-Picayune
Sunday June 07, 2009, 9:50 AM
Arnold Ross
A 17-year-old Terrytown man was arrested on charges of aggravated rape and first-degree murder of an 8-month-old child Saturday afternoon, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office said.
Arnold T. Ross, of 136 Friedrichs Road in Terrytown, was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Facility. No bond is available on the first-degree murder charge. Ross was arrested after officers responded to a call of an unresponsive infant at 1656 Gary Court, Apt. B, near Gretna. The infant, Da-Von Lonzo, was taken to Ochsner Westbank where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival, according to a release issued by Col. John Fortunato, a spokesman for the sheriff's office. The death was initially unclassified, but the Jefferson Parish coroner's office later reported it as a homicide after an autopsy of the child's body revealed multiple fractures consistent with a beating and tears in the anus. Ross, who said he was the boyfriend of the infant's mother, initially told detectives that the baby fell down the stairs while he was babysitting, Fortunato said. But a neighbor reported hearing loud noises coming from the apartment, and investigators noted inconsistencies in Ross's account. Ross later admitted that he beat the infant repeatedly when he would not stop crying, Fortunato said. When the child began to defecate on himself, Ross said he tried to clean it up, causing the tears, according to the release. Ross has a record of previous arrests for possession of crack cocaine and marijuana, obscenity, battery on a correctional officer, three counts of battery on a teacher, three counts of theft, illegal carrying of a weapon and assault.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Craigslist CEO Asks "Why Target US?"

I'll bet that's what they asked Mayor Giuliani at first, too...


Craigslist CEO asks why SC AG targets his site

By JEFFREY COLLINS, Associated Press Writer Jeffrey Collins, Associated Press Writer – Sat May 16, 5:32 pm ET

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster pointed out Saturday there are plenty of places in South Carolina other than his Web site to find prostitution ads and obscene photos, saying in a blog that he wants to know why the state's top prosecutor is targeting his company.
South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster has threatened to prosecute Craigslist executives for aiding and abetting prostitution if an ad on the Web site leads to a prostitution case in South Carolina.

In the post on his company's blog, Buckmaster linked to a publication in Greenville he said has a larger number of adult ads and more explicit content than his Web site. He later updated the post to point out a publication in Charleston that listed 19 adult ads on Friday.
In contrast, Buckmaster said the Greenville "adult services" portion of his site has had one ad for the past three days with a photograph of a completely clothed person, while the recently closed "erotic services" section had eight ads, none of which had obscene texts or nude pictures.
McMaster's office did not return a phone message left Saturday.

Buckmaster said no one would consider suing or conducting a criminal investigation into either traditional publication.

"But if for whatever reason you were so motivated, would you target a venue with 9 PG-13 rated ads, or one with 250 XXX rated ones?" he asked on his blog.

Earlier this week, Craigslist pledged to eliminate its "erotic services" category and screen all submissions to a new "adult services" section before being posted. New postings in the "adult services" category will cost $10.

McMaster, a Republican who plans to run for governor of South Carolina in 2010, has met with Craigslist attorney Bart Daniel of Charleston, who explained the change. But the attorney general said Friday his office still planned to monitor the site closely.

Craigslist came under closer scrutiny last month after a Boston-area man was accused of fatally shooting a woman who placed an ad on the site. Police believe 22-year-old Philip Markoff may have been involved in other crimes against women who also posted ads on Craigslist. Some reports have suggested he was targeting victims to pay gambling debts.

On the Net:
Craigslist CEO's blog:

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Craigslist to Change Erotic Ad Category--Monitoring Ads

Do you think this will help?

Craiglist to drop "erotic services" ads

Wed May 13, 2009 12:53pm EDT

By Jason Szep

BOSTON (Reuters) - Online classified site Craigslist will replace its "erotic services" ads with a new adult category "to bar flagrant prostitution and porn," the Connecticut attorney general's office said on Wednesday.

Craigslist's sex-service listings have faced intense scrutiny following the April 14 murder of 25-year-old masseuse Julissa Brisman, who advertised on Craigslist in Boston. Philip Markoff, a 23-year-old Boston University medical student, was charged with killing Brisman and with attacks on two other women he met through Craigslist.

Officials from Craigslist were not immediately available to comment.

The "erotic services" section will end within seven days and be replaced with a new section called "adult services" where every advertisement will be manually reviewed by Craigslist staff, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.

In April, Blumenthal had asked Craigslist officials to eliminate photographs in the "erotic services" and similar sections of the site, hire staff to screen ads that blatantly violate Craigslist rules and offer incentives for people who flag and report prostitution advertisements.

Craigslist informed him of the changes on Tuesday night, Blumenthal said.

Craigslist, a 14-year-old online bazaar that generates more than 20 billion page views per month in 50 countries with a staff of just 28 people, is partially owned by online auctioneer eBay, which bought 25 percent in 2004.

Along with its free listings for just about anything -- from apartments to furniture, jobs and cars -- San Francisco-based provides one of the largest and most controversial sex-service listings.

"We will be monitoring closely to make sure that this measure is more than a name change from erotic to adult and that the manual blocking is tough and effective to scrub prostitution and pornography," said Blumenthal, who has led a task force with other attorneys general on Craigslist.

Tabloids dubbed Markoff "the Craigslist killer."

The murder followed the killing of George Weber, a New York reporter knifed to death after responding to a personal ad he placed on Craigslist in March, and the early-April sentencing of Michael Anderson, a Minnesota man convicted of killing a woman who responded to a babysitting ad.

The Craigslist measures could set a precedent for similar sites, Blumenthal said.

"Closing the erotic services section -- a blatant Internet brothel -- should lead to other blocking and screening measures, and set a model for other sites, if Craigslist keeps its word," Blumenthal said.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Vermont Looks to Legalize Pornographic Text Messages -- "Sexting"

Evidently the legislators in Vermont feel that the best way to solve this problem is to legalize it.
(I guess then if it is legal, it must be OK?)

Apr 14, 2009 6:04 am US/Eastern

Vermont Lawmakers Look To Legalize Teen 'Sexting'
Under Current Law, Teens Who Text Message Explicit Photos Could Be Prosecuted As Sex Offenders

Text messaging graphic pictures of yourself could soon be legal for teens in Vermont. Lawmakers there are considering a bill that would make it legal for teenagers 18 and under to exchange explicit photos and videos of themselves – an act that's come to be known by teens as "sexting." Under the current law, teenagers could be prosecuted as sex offenders if they get caught sending graphic sexual images of themselves, even if it was consensual. A state House committee will hear more testimony on it later this week.

In a recent study, 18 percent of female students nationwide say they've tried sexting. New York City student Stefanie Garcia is only in high school, and says sexting happens all the time. "Girls in underwear, guys completely naked, muscle pictures, stuff like that," Garcia told CBS 2. Actress Vanessa Hudgens is still trying to live down the scandal of her nude pictures ending up on-line, when they were meant for her boyfriend. "It'll get there in like 30 seconds. The world can know about anything," high school senior Juli Ssacontreras said. Ssacontreras says sexting is like paparazzi for teenagers and it's not just nude pictures that are being sent. "People using drugs, of people being drunk, maybe doing some other illegal activities," she said. Karen Salmansohn is an expert on talking with teenagers about smart choices. She writes books to empower girls, and says parents need to talk to their kids about the dangers of sexting -- using their language.

"Don't talk to them in language saying this is right this is wrong. That's not going to get to a kid," Salmansohn said. "You have to talk them, you know what you think is cool isn't so cool. You have to use the language of cool because that's why they're doing it." Tell them that once that embarrassing pictures goes out, there's no way to get it off the Internet, and could affect their college and future job opportunities when recruiters search the Web. They're also up for grabs for sexual predators. By law, sexually explicit pictures of anyone under 18 are considered child pornography. The head of, says minors can be charged with child pornography, so parents need to call police if an explicit picture of your child is on the Internet. If you don't get action, contact your attorney general's office.

Related Stories
Teens' Newest Disturbing Trend: 'Sexting' (12/10/2008)
Children Engage In Risky Behavior On MySpace (1/7/2009)
6 Boys In Mass. May Face 'Sexting' Charges (2/11/2009)
NY Teacher Accused Of 'Sexting' With Student (1/30/2009)
'Sexting' Leading To Criminal Charges For Teens (1/15/2009)
Related LinksTeen Angels

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Thursday, April 02, 2009

Girls Trading Sex for Favors

The last sentence of this article says it all...

April 1, 2009

Teen girls trading sex for favours


EDMONTON -- Somewhere in the city, children as young as 11 and 12 are gathering in basements and playing intricate, graphic sex games.

I first heard about these parties a few years ago from my 12-year-old daughter, who said kids at her school played games where each girl had to perform oral sex on several boys.

Naively, I dismissed the story as another urban myth, like Pop Rocks causing heart attacks and maggots in milk-shake machines.

Turns out, these parties are very real and frighteningly commonplace.

Edmonton is featured in a new book and documentary DVD called Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss by Sharlene Azam, where she explores "the growing phenomenon of middle-class girls trading sex for money, drugs and luxury goods."

Azam says hyper-sexualized popular culture and romanticizing gangsterism, combined with AWOL parenting, have created an atmosphere in which young teens view oral sex as nonchalantly as necking was seen a generation ago.

"It's in every school, even more in the suburbs," Azam said yesterday. And from there, they're just a small step away from prostitution.

One girl said that if she's already fellating two or three boys every weekend at parties, she might as well have sex with five or six and get paid for it.

Azam quotes one Edmonton 15-year-old who says, "I can work at KFC and make $100 a week, or I can make $400 a night for sex."

Often girls will agree to sex with older men in exchange for drugs or designer shoes, clothes and handbags, convincing themselves that because there's no money involved, it's not prostitution.
Azam recounts a case a few years ago where Edmonton police broke up a ring of up to 50 girls all from the same Edmonton high school, which she declined to name.

Police were horrified to realize many of the girls were angry with them for shutting off the cash flow.

One girl told Azam, "We told the police that they never forced us to have sex. They didn't need to because they could always find other girls to do it. There are also way more guys doing this than anyone can imagine."

None of the girls Azam interviewed said they were forced to do anything they didn't want to.
If the girls wanted money, they'd call a man named Luu Chi Dang and tell him that they wanted to work.

He'd pick them up and take them to one of three homes, where a dozen or so middle-aged men were waiting.

For each man the girls had sex with, they'd be paid $60. Dang got $40.

Said one girl: "I just had to lie there. The lights would always be off, and the few times it bothered me I would think that I could go get Boston Pizza after or something. The best part was getting paid. I did it for the money. It took 15 minutes and I would have $500."

Azam described Dang as a "really nice guy, very polite and deferential." He never recruited anyone. The girls took care of that.

"Most of the girls said they wanted to make money to go shopping. When their friends saw them shopping they would tell them, 'If you want to make money contact Luu' and I would hook it up," he told her.

Azam offers advice for parents who fear their girls are being sucked in. It's all common-sense stuff, like communicating, spending time with them and building up their esteem. She also reminds adults that they have a job to do.

"Don't be afraid to assert your authority... your daughter might not thank you for keeping track of her whereabouts, but it does not matter," she says. Azam adds: "The biggest problem is that parents aren't worried enough."


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Monday, February 23, 2009

David Ogden Will Not Protect Our Children --He Thinks Child Porn is Free Speech --Why is he Being Nominated for Deputy Attorney General?

The Deputy Attorney General runs the Department of Justice, which is responsible for protecting our children from Internet Predators...and from those who would seek to exploit them for child porn.

David Ogden, Obama's nominee for Deputy Attorney General, has a track record that makes me shake my head in disbelief. He does not seem to be very protecting of children. Read this article below and see what you think.

Remember, the vote on David Ogden is this Thursday in the Judiciary Committee. Call your U.S. Senator, 202-224-3121

A Man Who Thinks Child Porn is Free Speech Is Not Fit for Justice

by Cathy Ruse (more by this author)

Posted 02/23/2009 ET

President Barack Obama has nominated David Ogden for Deputy Attorney General. It is another bad nomination that should not be confirmed. Ogden is a hero to the porn industry for good reason.

His clients include a long line of porn companies such as Playboy, Penthouse and Adam & Eve. But in his long career defending the interests of pornographers, no case is more shocking or repugnant than a case in which David Ogden fought for the rights of a pedophile to receive a certain genre of child pornography.

Here are the facts.

In 1991, customs officials intercepted a mailing requesting two videotapes with the titles “Little Girl Bottums (Underside)” and “Little Blonds” distributed by the Nather Company in Las Vegas, Nevada. The purchaser was a Pennsylvania man named Stephen Knox, and a search of his apartment revealed other videotapes distributed by the Nather Company containing numerous vignettes of teenage and preteen females, between the ages of ten and seventeen, striking provocative poses for the camera. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals described the tapes as follows: The children were obviously being directed by someone off-camera. All of the children wore bikini bathing suits, leotards, underwear, or other abbreviated attire while they were being filmed….The photographer would zoom in on the children’s pubic and genital area and display a close-up view for an extended period of time. Most of the videotapes were set to music. In some sequences, the child subjects were dancing or gyrating in a fashion not natural for their age. The Nather catalogues found in Knox’s apartment -- in which Knox had checked off his favorites -- showed the videos were obviously created for and pandered to pedophiles. One ad read: “'Sassy Sylphs’ will blow your mind so completely you’ll be begging for mercy.” Another read: Just look at what we have in this incredible tape: about 14 girls between the ages of 11 and 17 showing so much panty and a-- you’ll get dizzy. There are panties showing under shorts and under dresses and skirts; there are b--bs galore and T-back (thong) bathing suits on girls as young as 15 that are so revealing it’s almost like seeing them naked (some say even better). Federal child pornography law prohibits the depiction of “sexually explicit conduct” involving children, including videos focusing on the “lascivious exhibition of the genitals or pubic area.” The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals had no trouble concluding that Stephen Knox was guilty of violating child pornography law.

David Ogden claimed Knox was innocent.

In the brief he filed for the ACLU, Ogden said the videos were not child pornography at all. He argued that the children’s genitals were not clearly visible and that the videos should therefore be treated as just another art form with full protection by the First Amendment. Even more outrageous was Ogden’s claim that if the Nather tapes were child porn, then librarians everywhere would fear prosecution! Libraries had images of clothed minors, he argued, any of which could be subject to prosecution limited only by a subjective test of lasciviousness.

This argument was clearly absurd, and thankfully the court concluded it was also legally wrong. On June 9, 1994, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment against Stephen Knox for violation of federal child pornography law.

President Obama has nominated David Ogden to a high-level position in his sub-cabinet -- not a position in agriculture or defense but the number two position at the Department of Justice, the Department charged with prosecuting adult and child pornography violations. The porn industry is so excited by the prospect of having one of their allies in this key position that they have not been able to contain themselves. XBiz, a leading “adult” newswire, called Ogden a “strong pick,” and porn attorney Colin Hardacre of Los Angeles said Ogden’s nomination is “a good sign for the adult industry.”

Can Americans trust Ogden to administer justice and vigorously prosecute those who violate our pornography laws? Based on his record, the answer is clearly no. There should be no room at the Department of Justice for a man like David Ogden.

Cathy Ruse is Senior Fellow for Legal Studies at the Family Research Council

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Epidemic--"Sexting" -- sending nude photos via cellphone

God forbid kids learn from the logical consequences of their actions. I guess in our society today there are no longer consequences for porn.

And there's even a catchy, clever name to go with this practice that makes it seem "cutesy."

What are we training our kids to be? Make no mistake, they are being trained.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Child Porn Epidemic

Child Porn Pandemic as Police Estimate 600,000 Americans, 65,000 Canadians Trading Child Porn Online

By Kathleen Gilbert

TORONTO, Ontario, February 6, 2009 ( - Ontario police yesterday celebrated the results of a province-wide child pornography bust, the largest in Ontario's history - yet officers acknowledge they have only scratched the surface of the massive underworld of child sexual abuse in North America.

Police officers said at a press conference Thursday that the sweep led to the arrest of 31 child sex offenders between the age of 14 and 60, as well as the rescue of two young victims, a 4-year-old boy and 12-year-old girl. The maximum jail time for creating and distributing child pornography is ten years, with five years for possessing images.

But the "huge" bust has hardly put a dent in the actual child pornographer population - which officials estimate at a staggering 600,000 in the U.S., and 65,000 in Canada. The profits for creating and trading images of often-violent sexual abuse of children, toddlers, and infants amount to an estimated $2- to $3-billion each year.
The child pornography unit of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) believes the 65,000 figure is very low, as 40,000 computers in Ontario alone are known to be used to access child porn.

“The OPP is arresting about 75 of these offenders a year, when we know there are tens of thousands of them,” said Inspector Andy Stewart in a Canadian press report, also calling the 65,000 estimate "very conservative."

“We’re never going to be in a position to arrest our way out of this," he said.

“There’s just not enough manpower to go and identify and arrest these 65,000 individuals,” said Paul Gillespie, former head of Toronto police's child exploitation unit, now president and CEO of the Kids’ Internet Safety Alliance. “That’s where it gets scary and people sort of change the channel, because they don’t want to hear that the police know there’s 65,000 suspects they’re never going to get to.”

The number is even more alarming when considering how many children, toddlers and infants are put in danger by the spread of child pornography addiction. According to information released at the press conference, studies indicate that those who engage in actual child abuse - somewhere between 30-80% of those possessing abusive images - have anywhere from 13 to 30 child victims each.

Inspector Dave Ross, Deputy Director of the OPP Corporate Communications Bureau, told (LSN) that, while the public is alerted when a child abuser has been arrested, there is no such alert after they are released from jail.

Thorough investigation of the sex offenders proves difficult, not only for lack of manpower, but due to the sheer perversion of the images officers must sift through to track down offenders and identify enslaved children. The evidence trail is so revolting that investigators go to yearly counseling, said Det. Staff-Sgt. Frank Goldschmidt of the OPP.

Dr. Judith Reisman, an internationally-recognized author, scientist, and educator specializing in sexual perversion, says the growing appetite for child pornography corresponds to the "pornographic, erototoxic epidemic.”

"It’s called in science 'social contagion' or 'emotional contagion,'" Reisman told

"Historically it is known as ‘monkey see monkey do.’ Pornography wires viewers brains to lust after rape of women and children, globally breeding nations of child rapists, serial rapist murderers and the like among men, women and even children.

Reisman said pornography "mutilates the human brain" and creates offenders, rather than simply pandering to an existing pathology. "Erototoxins turn what could have been normal, decent humans into vile and deformed molesters," she said. "Our brains and our behavior are shaped by our environment.

"Some people will withstand pornographic conditioning due to their genetic inheritance (perhaps) but more likely due to strong moral absolutes. However, even those moral absolutes can be exploited and violated by exposure to these erototoxins we call pornography."
Reisman said that someone who sees no connection between "legal" porn and the child porn pandemic is "in denial."

"Literature, music, art, cross cultural history and current brain science all coalesce to confirm the addictive, destructive process of all 'sexually provocative' visual stimuli," said Reisman. "All porn are Erototoxic because the brain converts sexual images into an endogenous drug ‘high’ via the reward system, pouring a supranormal drug cocktail similar to cocaine throughout the brain/body.

"The withdrawal state following use will be the same as withdrawal from a street drug, calling the user back to the source of image-arousal. Like alcoholics, any cue that is associated with their lust (here booze) will drive the addict, the user, back to his or her source."

See related articles:

Road to Perversion Is Paved With Porn

Child Porn Among Fastest Growing Internet Businesses

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Friday, February 06, 2009

Same Song Seventy-Second Verse, a Little Bit Louder, a Little Bit Worse...

Warwick man, 21, faces charges for liaison with 13-year-old teen
06:52 AM EST on Friday, February 6, 2009

By Amanda Milkovits
Journal Staff Writer

A 21-year-old Warwick man and a 13-year-old girl from a rural Virginia town met online while playing an Xbox 360 game called “Lost Planet.”

They struck up a relationship over the Internet and, after a few months, the Bedford County (Va.) sheriff’s office says, the pair hatched a plan to rendezvous and run away together.
But the plan that began with “Lost Planet” turned into lost in the woods, and ended yesterday with Andrew Fitzgerald Holloway locked up in the Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

Tuesday was supposed to be the pair’s big day. Holloway boarded a flight out of T.F. Green that morning and wound up in Lynchburg, Va., where he asked a taxi driver to take him to Evington, Va., where the girl lives, said Maj. Ricky Gardner of the Bedford County sheriff’s office.

The girl pedaled away on her bicycle that afternoon and met Holloway down the road. She ditched the bicycle, and the pair walked along the road and into the woods, Gardner said.
Back at home, the girl’s parents worried when she didn’t return. About 45 minutes after she was due home, her father called the police.

Her bicycle was found about a mile from her house. A neighbor reported seeing a young girl walking along the road with a young man in a black jacket. Law-enforcement officials in two counties mobilized to find her.

Several dozen rescuers and local volunteers launched an all-out search. Photos of the blond-haired, blue-eyed teen were printed on “missing” fliers handed out throughout the area.

Members of the local Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, where the family belongs, joined the overnight search. The girl’s tearful mother pleaded on local newscasts for her daughter’s return.
Two police dogs followed the girl’s scent to the road, but lost it, leading the police to believe she was no longer on foot, Gardner said. A state police helicopter was called in and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children was sending its rapid response team to help local authorities with their investigation.

All the while, Holloway and the girl were right under searchers’ noses –– and ducking for cover.
As the helicopter whirred overhead, the two hid behind trees so they wouldn’t be seen, Gardner said. They later admitted to the police that they knew people were looking for them, but they didn’t want to be found, Gardner said.

The pair were only about a mile or so from the girl’s house, but they’d become disoriented, Gardner said. They found a shack in the woods, and as temperatures dropped into the teens, the two built a fire to keep warm, Gardner said. Holloway had no money and no credit cards, and no plan to get them out. “They had the plan to get together, but didn’t finalize the exit,” Gardner said.

Meanwhile, computer forensics detectives under the Bedford County sheriff’s “Operation Blue Ridge Thunder” were following the girl’s trail on her home computer. By mid-day on Wednesday, the detectives discovered the pair’s communications, their secret plans and Holloway’s identity, Gardner said.

And then, the cold weather gave the police their lucky break.

Faced with another night of below-freezing temperatures, Holloway and the girl left the woods Wednesday night and walked to a nearby house, where they asked the residents if they could use the phone. They’d inadvertently ended up at the house of one of the searchers, just three minutes away from the girl’s house. After recognizing the girl from the fliers, the residents invited the couple in –– and called the police.

Holloway was arrested, and the girl was taken to a local hospital to be examined, Gardner said. Holloway is charged with three counts of carnal knowledge and two counts of soliciting carnal knowledge online from a person under 15. He was ordered held without bail yesterday at the Blue Ridge Regional Jail, in Bedford, Va.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Generation Sex--the reality

How the faceless and amoral world of cyberspace has created a deeply disturbing... generation SEX

By Olivia Lichtenstein
28th January 2009

Remember that Hilaire Belloc cautionary tale - Matilda told such dreadful lies, it made one gasp and stretch one’s eyes? I used to love it as a child when telling lies was one of the naughtiest things you could do: Matilda ended up getting burned to death.

These days, however, everything has changed and it’s the truths that children tell that make one gasp and stretch one’s eyes.

A couple of years ago, my daughter Francesca, then aged 13, told me about a party she had been to one Saturday night.

Insight: Olivia (left) and daughter Francesca

In the course of the evening, she came upon one of her friends, also aged 13, performing oral sex on a boy in the garden. The boy was standing and videoing the event on his mobile phone.

My daughter, in whom the feisty gene has always found strong expression, pulled her friend off the boy, knocked the phone out of his hand and slapped him round the face.

I apologise for shocking you, but then there are a number of things shocking about this event: the casual nature in which such an intimate act is performed in public, the young age of the participants and last, but by no means least, the fact that it is being filmed.

This not only signals the boy’s disassociation from the physical experience, it also indicates his intention to replay the event and, no doubt, to share his triumph with his friends as one might brandish a trophy above one’s head for all to see.

Reality TV has a lot to answer for

Nor was this the only such event on this particular evening. I am no prude, but Francesca painted a picture of Bacchanalia that certainly made me gasp.

That week at school, when conducting a post mortem of their weekend as teenagers do (and always have done), the girls at her then school (she’s since moved), a private girls’ school in London, exclaimed: ‘Hurrah, now we’re more slutty than Slutney’, the affectionate nickname of another school.

Call me old-fashioned, but when I was a gal, sluttishness was not a condition one aspired to.
That year, they were all dressing in Hooters T-shirts (the uniform of the well-endowed waitresses of a U.S. restaurant chain whose slogan ‘delightfully tacky yet unrefined’ sums up its approach) and buttock-skimming shorts.

They looked, as girls so often do, far older than their 13 years and not unlike the Playboy Bunnies who incensed a generation of feminists. (Interestingly, clothing depicting the distinctive Playboy bunny is highly popular now among teenage girls.)

When one considers our society, it’s no surprise that our children have lost all sense of modesty.
Reality check: TV's Skins glamorises teenage promiscuity

Not only do social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo encourage teens to share information about themselves; but when they are not taking their clothes off, their role models are spilling their guts about their ‘private’ lives all over the pages of every national newspaper, magazine and on television.

We have an immoderate interest in the private lives of perfect strangers. Pop stars such as Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears expose the car crash that is their life for all to see.

Jordan, who won fame by revealing her breasts, has a documentary series where she and her husband, Peter Andre, discuss their sex life (or lack of it) in intimate detail.

The Osbournes revealed all for our entertainment in their television series. Was this extraordinary exposure responsible in part for the subsequent drug and alcohol abuse of the two of their children who participated? One can’t help feeling it might have been. Their third child, Amy, wisely chose to stay out of the limelight.

Whatever its exponents may say, reality television has a lot to answer for. I have been a documentary film-maker for more than two decades and am well aware of the power of the medium.

Today’s teenagers are starring in the reality show of their own lives and doing all they can to make it as dramatic as possible.

Where before mistakes we made when young - excessive drinking, acts of promiscuity - were quietly forgotten, now they are recorded and broadcast on the internet for all to see.

From happy slapping to amateur sex videos (Paris Hilton rose to fame when a shamelessly intimate video of her and her boyfriend found its way on to the internet, a reality TV show followed, and the rest, as they say, is history).

Do these girls even know what feminism is?

The sexualisation of our young is ubiquitous: boys caught cheating on their girlfriends on mobile phones, ritual humiliation and worse by YouTube (In February 2008, a gang of London teenagers aged 14-16 drugged and raped a woman in front of her children and then posted the film of the attack, videoed on a mobile phone, on YouTube), television programmes like Sex And

The City with man-eating Samantha as the living embodiment of casual libidinous sex, all provide the back projection to our children’s lives.

Instant fame is all. In today’s celebrity culture, no one cares how you made your name, as long as you’ve made it; there’s no distinction between fame and notoriety.

Do you really want things that you’ve done when drunk to be plastered all over the internet?

These images are like puppies; they’re not just for Christmas, they’re for life.

Would the 13-year-old girl administering oral sex in a London garden have done so if she’d fully considered the possible repercussions of the video the boy was taking of her?

Once broadcast on the internet the images would have become available not merely to the boy’s friends, but to the whole world; to paedophiles and to prospective employers in the future.

Glamour model Jordan and husband Peter Andre discussed their sex life in a documentary series
In her book, Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women And The Rise Of Raunch Culture, Ariel Levy writes about the American experience, where many a young girl’s dream seems to be the desire to dance around a pole or cheer while others do.

She says that feminist terms such as liberation and empowerment, that used to describe women’s fight for equality, have been perverted.

Now the freedom to be sexually provocative or promiscuous is not enough - now it can mean the freedom to be an exhibitionist.

During the same summer as the party my daughter had told me about, she casually mentioned at a lunch gathering of family and friends how another of her friends allowed boys to ‘touch them up’.

There was a sharp, shocked intake of breath around the table; the casual use of language and the public mention of such an act astonished us.

Although many of us might have engaged in such activities at a similar age, none of us could have imagined discussing it in front of our parents let alone in front of our parents’ friends.

So how much are the parents to blame?

It is precisely this erosion of the boundaries of privacy and the absence of taboo that is so shocking about today’s teenagers. Modern technology allows children access to images and information we, as children, could scarcely have imagined.

You want to see a naked girl? Click on to the internet. You want to hear exactly what your friend got up to the night before? Log on to Facebook. Not only will their boasts tell you that they are recovering from the excesses of the night before, there’ll be the pictures to prove it.
In today’s world of fast information and access to all areas, too many - particularly the young - are having to up the stakes to chase their particular dragon and get the high they crave.
Sometimes, they’re so busy creating drama and tension in the movie of their own lives that they’ve forgotten to be human beings.

A video I was told about shows how far things have gone: a dying woman lay inert on a street while a man urinated on her, saying as he did so: ‘This is a YouTube moment.’

When I was young, secretly looking up the word penis in the dictionary and sniggering was how we got our thrills. This is small beer for today’s children: the girls especially, who, where once they might have struck a pose in front of mirrors in the privacy of their own bedrooms, now exhibit themselves scantily clad in hookers’ poses in photo albums on social networking sites.

There’s something about the one step removal into cyber space that allows people to behave even more outrageously than they might in person. Now, even this boundary is becoming blurred.

Perhaps it’s the freedom or lack of boundaries they’ve learned from virtual reality that give them permission to behave with such frightening lack of inhibition in person. That and the demon drink, for today’s teenage girls drink in a way we rarely did.

So how much are the parents to blame? Those of us who grew up in the Sixties and Seventies will do almost anything to appear ‘cool’ to our children; we certainly don’t wish to come across as some sort of Mary Whitehouse scandalised by today’s youth.

Nor do we wish to appear as joyless, men-hating feminists, although many of us remember that we fought hard for the right to do as men have always done.

One can’t help but wonder what happened to feminism and its lessons. On the one hand, girls drink like men; on the other they dress in a manner that invites sexual objectification. Do these young girls even know what feminism is?

‘The problem is that teenagers have rejected the values of the previous era and to reject the values of the Sixties or Seventies, which was very laissez faire, you have to go very far,’ says Dr Pat Spungin, psychologist and founder of parenting website

The bar has unquestionably been raised. Where will it end? In bizarre fetishism or S&M as teens strive to outdo each other?

The lessons learned are confusing ones; girls feel they have the right to get drunk and sleep around, but certain attitudes never change.

According to a sample group of 17-year-olds I spoke to, there is an enormous double standard between the sexes. Boys treat sex as being a sign of ‘laddishness’ and masculinity, they say; promiscuous behaviour on their part is an achievement.

Girls, on the other hand, are caught between a rock and a hard place.

‘Boys demand that they go further before they are ready; if they do, they’ll quickly be labelled as sluts, and gain a reputation as an easy target, so that drunk boys will seek them expecting that they’ll be easy to get off with,’ says one.

‘If they don’t, they’ll be labelled as frigid and become instantaneously unattractive; most boys won’t bother investing time and energy flirting with a girl if they think there is little prospect of pulling.’

‘Girls I know often get drunk and allow themselves to be touched up at bus stops or up against walls,’ says my daughter, Francesca.

Many of her classmates, she says, have been sleeping with their boyfriends since the age of 14 or 15.

Peer pressure has always been a persistent factor of teenage life. The stakes are higher now and teenagers, not surprisingly, have become even more competitive and paranoid. They may often find themselves in situations they are not equipped to deal with.

The internet personae that children create turn them into avatars - an online persona - in their own lives and diminish their empathy for each other. It becomes hard to tell what is real and what isn’t.

Role models? Paris Hilton rose to fame when an intimate video of her and her boyfriend hit the internet. Britney Spears had a very public meltdown

Facebook has an application called the Honesty Box, which invites you to send and receive anonymous messages to discover what people really think of you.

The application’s blurb declares triumphantly that messages cannot be removed: ‘Once you send a message, it’s forever.’ Thus has bullying moved from the playground into cyber space?
The implications of all this behaviour are far reaching. A survey about violence in teenage relationships released last month by Women’s Aid and Bliss magazine found that nearly a quarter of 14-year-old girls who responded had been pressured into engaging in sexual activity with somebody they’ve dated.

According to the survey, boys see girls as sexual commodities and one in four 16-year-olds had been hit or hurt in some other way.

Many felt it was OK to hit a girl if she’d been unfaithful. It also found that more than half of 14 and 15-year-olds have been humiliated in front of others by someone they were dating.

‘There used to be a stricter and more regulated approach to bringing up children,’ says Dr Pat Spungin.

‘Parents should take back some of the control they’ve ceded. We don’t say “no” enough, so vulnerable girls don’t have enough experience of saying “no” themselves.’

This is not to say that we should be condemning teenagers for being sexual and proposing that they take chastity vows and attend purity balls as is fashionable in parts of the U.S.

However, we do need to consider what is appropriate behaviour and to help our teens ensure that ill-considered or drunken acts which are sometimes a part of growing up won’t come back and hurt them in the future.

Some, of course, have always been sexually precocious

There have, of course, always been girls and boys who are sexually precocious.

When I was in the fifth form (Year 11) at my girls’ grammar school, I remember a classmate going to Majorca and returning to boast that she’d slept with six boys in a week. Luckily, neither she, nor they, had the pictures to prove it. These days they might well have had.

‘The girls who are most vulnerable and have the most desire to be liked are the ones who are tempted to cross these boundaries,’ says Dr Pat Spungin.

The event cited at the beginning of this article is an extreme one and by no means common to all teens’ experience. It did, however, occur.

Others will have similar stories, and it is symptomatic of a worrying tendency among our teens to live their lives in an inappropriately public arena where they reveal far more of themselves, both literally and metaphorically, than is wise.

Barack Obama recently commented on the fashion among young men for wearing their trousers low on their hips: ‘Brothers should pull up their pants. You’re walking by your mother, your grandmother, and your underwear is showing. (Some people might not want to see your underwear - I’m one of them.)’

Few would wish a return to the hypocritical constraints of life before the sexual revolution; however, the trouble with the pendulum is that it has a habit of swinging too far the other way.
Perhaps it’s time for everyone to pull up their pants and show each other a little more respect; and, since we’re supposed to be the adults, it has to start with us, with how we behave, how we draw boundaries and what we put in our newspapers and magazines and on our television screens.

* Olivia Lichtenstein is a TV producer/director and novelist. Her novel, Mrs Zhivago Of Queen’s Park, is published by Orion at £6.99.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Beware Those who Care More about Freedom of Expression than They do about our Children

This is unfortunately the next logical step in a progression that began long ago. Too many Internet "Safety" advocates are overly concerned about "Freedom of Expression" to protect their dealing in the porn industry, and this is the result.

Beware of the Family Online Safety Institute!

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer, Living His Life Abundantly

A report by Morality in Media has found that the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) is espousing to protect children from potentially harmful online material even while secretly shielding hard core pornographers.

“The ‘Institute’ says it has two objectives,” writes Ed Hynes of Morality in Media. “Protecting children from potentially harmful material, and protecting free speech on the Internet. There’s the rub. ‘Protecting free speech on the Internet’ is Big Porn code for protecting itself from enforcement of federal and state laws that ban distribution of obscene materials on the Internet.”

FOSI is a non-profit membership organization that says it works to provide a safer on-line world for kids and families by identifying best practices in the field of on-line safety “that also respect free expression.” They promote these practices through the development of public policy, education, and technology.

As Hynes points out, FOSI’s website reveals a long list of well-known corporate members such as AOL, Microsoft, Google, Verizon and others.

But he also found a list of “Associate Members,” including 46 businesses that sell sex paraphernalia and pornography. Some of these members include Sex Toys Store, Telefetish Phone Sex, Bondage Gear, Film Porno and many other similar outfits.

”The FOSI web site not only listed the 46 Associate Members but linked to them, so anyone, child or adult, could go directly from the Family Online Safety Institute to hardcore pornography,” Hynes writes.

Then, a few weeks ago, the list of “Associate Members” and their links were suddenly removed from the web site.

Even though they removed the names and links, Hynes says, these sexually oriented businesses still have a presence on the Internet and are out there using a FOSI-designed logo to show their “support for FOSI’s self-regulatory effort to protect children and free speech.”

“Duplicity is too mild a word for this,” Hynes writes. “If FOSI really wanted a family-safe Internet, they would be supporting vigorous enforcement of the federal laws that ban the distribution of obscene hardcore pornography on the Internet. They don’t do that.”

If FOSI expects people to believe that websites with names like “Film Porno” and “Phone Sex with Brittany and girlfriends” are trying to protect children, “They must think we’re all idiots,” Hynes writes.

Morality in Media is suggesting that people write to FOSI’s corporate sponsors to ask how they can reconcile their membership in an organization that attempts to legitimize sexually oriented business under the guise of protecting children and families.

Corporate Sponsors include: Randy Falco, CEO, America Online, 770 Broadway, New York, NY 10003; Eric Schmidt, CEO, Google, Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View, CA 94043; Steve Ballmer, CEO, Microsoft Corp., 1 Microsoft Way, Redmond, WA 98052; Ivan Seidenberg, CEO, Verizon Communications, 140 West Street, New York, NY 10007.

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