There are over 300,000 pornographic web sites on the Internet and many of them contain pictures of exploited children (National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, 2004). According to a recent study from the Federal Bureau of Investigations Internet users ranging from 10 to 17 years of age revealed the following disturbing information: “Approximately one in five received a sexual solicitation over the Internet in the past year, one in 33 experienced an aggressive approach—an individual who requested a meeting; telephoned; or sent regular mail, money, or gifts, and one in 4 had unwanted exposure to explicit pictures in the past year.” (FBI, 2005) Cybersex crimes have a detrimental effect on children for a long period of time because the images placed on web pages are harder to control and retrieve, and have a wider audience than the hard copy materials.
Victims of cybersex crimes can be affected without any physical contact. Images of innocent children can be easily manipulated into pornography, and those juveniles would not be aware of this until pictures are placed online. As technology continues to change more and more children will become a victim of this abuse. One main reason why the Internet is very popular for cybersex crime is due to the anonymity of the offender. They feel that they could chat with whomever they wish without giving away their identity. Chat rooms, a popular place for teens, allow a user to login and develop a profile. Many times the predator user misrepresents his or her age, gender, and other information in order to find the right victim.
Major Issues Regarding Child Porn:
The Constitutional Amendment of Free Speech also pertains to the Internet. Prior to the Internet companies would print pornographic material in magazines. Since the increased use of the Internet, pornography has taken off like wildfire. The courts have been very active in hearing cases regarding child porn and the Internet. In 2004, the Supreme Court extended a ban on enforcement of a federal law which would shield minors from pornography. The Supreme Court said that the effort to “curb online obscenity threatens free speech.” (Lane, 2004). In order to protect children from Internet pornography Congress enacted the Child Online Protection Act (COPA). The Supreme Court later upheld the act saying that it was against free speech. In 2000, educators were relieved when Congress passed a law which required all schools and libraries to filter out all pornographic material. Educators would not intentionally subject students to view pornographic material in any class.
Pornography is a major problem in our country and it is getting worse. With newer and more advanced technology, it is easier than ever to view pornography. There are a number of arguments for and against pornography. Some of these arguments include:
-Protects the First Amendment Rights of individuals
-Helps protect the innocence of children
-Provides more money for businesses which helps out the economy
-Protects a persons right to free speech
-Laws protect educators from litigation of controversial material
-Removes filters from schools
-Exposure to controversial material
-Need to have a filtering system
-Increase of pornographic spam
-Preys on vulnerable children
-Easy access for pedophiles
-Deterioration of ethics
-Against the law
-Can lead to sexual dysfunction and other problems later in life
There are many sides to this debate which will not go away any time soon. Depending on your background, experiences, and other personal factors, you can be on either side of this controversial subject. Some people believe that pornography is wrong and disgusting while others enjoy viewing it whether it is on a computer, television, or in a magazine. Who is to tell us what we can view, is it the Supreme Court, our values set forth by our parents and teachers, or is it something else. On the other hand, how do we go about keeping our children safe from predators on the Internet? Isn't it a teachers job to keep children safe while they are learning in school?
Ways to prevent pornography on the Internet:
Prevention of pornography on the Internet comes from a few sources. Pornography has been known to be addictive and very destructive to society. It is imperative that educators closely monitor sites that their students are visiting. Moreover, parents can assist in prevention as well by monitoring their child’s computer use at home. More education can be done by teachers regarding the consequences of pornography on the Internet. This education can be combined with lessons on Internet safety.
Additionally, there are programs that parents can purchase to filter out pornography sites and e-mail. Any pornographic sites that encountered while using the filter should be reported to the Internet providers. Furthermore, parents need to set positive examples at home. Remember, children like to imitate what adults model, so if parents are on pornographic sites what might that child do?
The Police Notebook: Kid Safety on the Internet
This site provides numerous ways for kids to stay safe on the Internet. This is one of my favorite sites to use in class to teach about Internet safety.
This site is a resource for both parents and children regarding the safety from Internet pornography.
This site provides interactive advice on prevention of pornography, rules for the Internet, information for parents, and much more. This is a very indepth site which is easy to navigate.
Talk With Your Kids
The website provides information for parents on how to talk to their kids about numerous different issues.
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