Janice Shaw Crouse

The average age of first exposure to Internet pornography is eleven years old; often because of stumbling onto sites while doing homework. Kids searching “White House” can easily end up typing “com” instead of “gov” and end up at a porn site. Type into Google’s image search engine words like “pretty,” “beautiful,” “cute,” or virtually any girl’s name, and if the “safe search filter” is not properly activated many of the images that come up are sexually explicit in the extreme. Pornographers purchase domain names knowing that web surfers can unintentionally end up at their site. A child typing in a word like “toys” or a popular children’s character like “Pokémon” or “Beanie Babies” can be misdirected to a porn site. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 70 percent of teenagers have accidentally come across pornography on the web.

Most parents would be shocked to learn the statistics about Internet porn. GOOD magazine provides some staggering information about the pornography industry:

• 12 percent of all Internet sites are pornography
• 260 new porn sites go online daily
• every second, nearly 30,000 Internet users are viewing porn
• 35 percent of all Internet downloads are porn

Such statistics lend urgency to the recommendation that parents teach their children online safety in the same way that they approach other childhood danger areas. A British study indicates that teenagers spend an average of thirty-one hours a week online and nearly two hours a week looking at pornography. The implications for their intellectual and emotional well-being should not to be taken lightly. One in four teenagers said that they regularly communicated with strangers online but considered it harmless. TopTenReviews.com reveals that nearly 90 percent of sexual solicitations of youth were made in chat rooms. The implications of these facts are a cause for concern for any thinking person. Obviously, today’s parents need to address healthy sexuality and healthy sexual attitudes sooner rather than later in an age-appropriate manner.

It’s bad enough for children to stumble across pornography on the screen of their cell phone or computer. Even worse is that behind every pornographic image of a child on the more than 100,000 child pornography websites, there is a real child who is being personally violated and commercially exploited, often in horrific and dehumanizing ways. These child victims are exploited over and over again as their images are forever cast out into cyberspace to be downloaded and traded by child pornographers every day through the thousands of child porn Internet sites.

Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
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