Yesterday marked the official launch of our national Internet Safety 101SM Program. Yesterday’s press event (which you can watch in full on Ustream) featured footage from the DVD teaching series and compelling testimony from some of those included throughout our program, including “Rene”, whose son has suffered addiction to pornography, Alicia Kozakiewicz, survivor of a sexual predator and Holly Hawkins, Director of Consumer Privacy and Child Safety with AOL.
For the next few days, I will be posting excerpts from what these ladies shared with us. Today, a few words from “Rene”, who has asked us to protect her identity for the sake of her son’s privacy.
Ten years ago, when our son was still in elementary school, we had no filtering program on our computer, because we didn’t think we needed one yet. Then, through a minimized porn site and our computer’s history, we learned that our precious 11-year-old son had been to hundreds of Internet pornography sites during several nights in a row.
He told us a school friend had given him the first site, but when we went to that friend’s parents to alert them, they informed us that they didn’t even own a computer. That lie by our son, the first of many that followed over the years, is not unusual. Internet pornography plants seeds of shame, deception and lies in its users. And it is addictive, like drugs, but while drugs eventually leave the body, these images are embedded in the brain and can never be erased.
And these images aren’t the airbrushed photos of old; these are hardcore porn movies that show live sex with every combination of people you can imagine, plus with animals, whips, chain and worse. No child should be exposed to this, yet it’s available right in our homes, at no charge, with just one click.
We have spent the last ten years trying to keep our son away from this drug, with little success, seeking counselors who could help him, and being frustrated and angry that we couldn’t protect our child.
I am here to tell parents that what happened to us could happen to any family. The Internet is an incredibly useful tool that ahs given us many good things, but it comes with dangers as well. The good news is that those harms are preventable, and that’s why the Internet Safety 101 Program is so important.
We know that seven out of ten youth have had accidental exposure to pornography, and almost 80 percent of that exposure occurs right in the home. The kids that we have worked with have told us: “even if you are not looking for it, it will find you”. Please review our “Rules of Engagement” information about pornography, and if someone in your family is suffering from an addiction to pornography, we have a comprehensive list of victims resources that we hope will help.