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Monday, July 27, 2009

Protecting Our Children

***Please read this post regardless of whether you think it applies to you.***

Often I'm asked if I feel it is safe to post pictures of my child on the Internet. To be honest, it is something I did A LOT of thinking about before starting this blog. I even researched it a bit. It came down to two real concerns:

1. Contributing to increasingly horrific problem of Child Pornography. It is a certain fact that pedophiles cruise the Internet for photos of children that they can use for their purposes. They either link to the site itself, or right click and save the photo to their own computer. I firmly believe this is a REAL concern that parents should be cognizant of. While having your child's photo in the hands of a pedophile might not directly harm your child, you are contributing to that person's obsession, and possibly allowing them to further progress their behavior to the point of harming a child in their life. This very reason keeps me from posting photos of nude or partially clothed children. Last week's photos of Sugar in her swimming suit were about as far as I'll go, and I still worry about them a bit. You will never see a photo of her in a swimsuit that shows her from the waist down. It is really hard for me because I love photos of children from behind, and the swimsuits are so sweet, but I simply will not provide a pedophile with such a photograph. I urge you all to consider this as well. Save the photos that show so much skin, especially around the genital areas for your photo albums at home.

2. Risking the possibility of a stranger becoming obsessed with my child, tracking her down, and nabbing her. At the time I started my blog, two and a half years ago, there was no documented case of a toddler being stalked via the Internet, and then being tracked down and kidnapped. I was also unable to find a case of this occuring when searching today. While such a scenario is a very real possibility, the odds are not likely. There is a larger possibility that someone viewing our play at a public place would follow us home. There is nothing keeping that from happening regardless of the precautions I take.


After considering those two possibilities, I decided that I refuse to let the sickos of the world keep me from enjoying life, and sharing my photography online. Any weirdo can take photos of my child while we are at the park, and post them online, or use them for their own sick purposes. I can not control that. If I am careful about the photos I choose to post, the risks are minimal. Coupled with the fact that I try to keep Sugar's real name offline, and am relatively vague about our location, I feel that my child is not placed at any greater of a risk by having her photos online, than she is by taking her to the park. I also make my photos a bit less attractive to steal, by adding the watermark, and only posting low resolution photos on my blog. While nothing I do makes my photos completely safe from disturbed individuals, I feel that each one makes my photos a bit less appealing, since there are so many EASY photos out there for their use. I'd like to encourage my readers to do some thinking about their photos, and whether their photos are attractive to the wrong kind of attention.

Sadly, I think all the hype about the safety of posting photos of children online is misguided worry. While the issues are there, as I discussed above, there is a MUCH greater danger in your child's life that many of us either choose not to address or are completely unaware of. Incredibly horrible things are happening to children EVERYDAY, and the majority of the time the person doing it to them is someone they know, and YOU trust. It isn't until stories of such abuse make the news, that eyes open, but often for just a short time, and then we all go back to pretending it isn't happening. However, in doing so we are putting our children in real danger.

In the last several years, I have been educating myself on the subject of Sexual Abuse, and how to protect children from this abuse. Recently, I have begun the process of becoming a trainer in this arena. I will be part of a team that presents a parent and community workshop entitled, "A New Approach to Protecting Children: Advice From Child Molesters." I am so excited to be a part of this program. While it isn't an easy subject to speak about, I have hope that we can make a difference. There is certainly much needed progress in this area.

-At least 1 out of 4 girls will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

-At least 1 out of 9 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

-Children ages 7-9 are the most commonly molested.

-Fewer than 5% of child victims tell ANYONE.


I don't know about you, but those statistics are just plain UNACCEPTABLE. In the United States, roughly 5000 children per State are abused, per year. That is 140 school bus loads of children for the State YOU live in alone.

So when people ask me, if I'm worried about posting photos of Sugar Bear online, I tend to think there are bigger fish to fry. She may have a better shot at getting struck by lightening than being stalked off my blog, but she has a 25% chance of being sexually abused by someone she knows, and I TRUST. Now THAT is something I need to be actively working on preventing. Don't you think?


Please be on the look out for several follow up posts on this subject. I plan on sharing as much of the valuable insight from my trainings as possible. I do know that this subject is a tough one. Odds are, MANY of my readers have been touched by this trauma in their lives. It is my hope that while it may be difficult to read, it will provide some consolation that I are trying to prevent these needless acts from harming the children in our lives.

Subjects to follow:

-What is child sex abuse?
-Basic background about Sex Offenders.
-Sexual behavior between children.
-Sex Offenders and their victims.
-Identifying Sex Offenders: Red Flags
-What to do if a child is abused.
-How to protect your child from Sex Abuse: What works and what doesn't.

27 Live It or Love It:

Anonymous said...

Good information for any parent and responsible adult to know! You can protect a child even if they are not yours. My husband stepped in before a molester could accost a little girl in the store he works at. They got him out of the store, got his license plate and called the police. Turned out, he was on parole for molesting. Because of my husband's attentiveness, actions and testimony, the guy's parole was revoked and he went back to jail. T says he'll never forget the parents of a former victim coming up and hugging and thanking him after the molester was sentenced to go back to jail.

Denise Karis said...

awesome post - I never even think about it although it is totally possible for someone to stalk my son or use his photos - I hate those statistics - its one of the reasons I almost didnt have a child at all - to raise someone in this world would almost be abuse in itself. How sad for children today.

Autumn said...

Big hugs Corey and thank you for writing this. The first comment brought tears to my eyes. This is something that EVRERYONE should be aware of. We all need to protect ALL children, not just our own from these predators. We need to be aware of the people around us and not just the "strangers". The other side of this is that we need to be aware of the signs when something does happen. Why children do not tell. Even if we can't protect them from it happening we can protect further pain and suffering after the fact by knowing how to deal with it and recognizing the signs of an abused child. Thank you again for this post. Big hugs!

Marcelle said...

Very interesting entry - Thanks!

Janet said...

Although I don't know the statistics, we have the same problem in South Africa. Possibly one of the WORST myths we have ever heard, is that some of the rural people believe that having sex with a virgin cures HIV! As ridiculous as that sounds, it is a HORRENDOUS problem and we hear of baby girls as young as 6 months being raped! We live in a very sick world!

Shonni said...

Thank you so much for sharing about this!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Oh my goodness Corey. My heart is in my mouth. This is a good thing you're doing. HUgs.

Megan at Simple Kids said...

Thank you for this, Corey. Thank you. These are terrifying statistics of things that really do happen. I am looking forward to hearing more of what you have to say on this upsetting topic.

bBchronicles said...

Great post! There is so much good about the internet and sharing our families but there IS the sinister side we ALL have to watch and be careful of!

My nephew works for Microsoft Corp and polices the internet and for years worked for the police in setting up stings on sickos and breaking up porno-rings (he's very good at what he does). The stories he has to tell would make you do a 360 a hundred times over! Hence, he and his extended family WILL NOT have a thing to do with blogs, websites etc. Rarely do they even comment because of what they know. They keep warning me about my blog but I feel like you - can't STOP living - BUT, I will take precautions to protect my family. We ALL need to be cautious of what we post and the info we give out.

I will continue to enjoy Sugar Bear and her adventures and God bless you ALL in your blogging adventures too!

inkyblog said...

good for you Corey - this is such a great way to get the message out.

Eleonora Baldwin said...

I am here via authorblog and I wanted to personally thank you for this post and for your commitment towards the fight against child sexual abuse.

I am horrified at the statistics. Mothers should all follow your advice and spread the word. It is truly unacceptable. And it's been happening since the dawn of time, alas.

As a child of 11 I suffered the bland sexual attentions of my mother's current boyfriend at the time. As an adult I now have a normal sexual life and I consider myself untainted by the single episode, but kids should NEVER have to undergo these experiences. Ever.

Consider me on your bandwagon. If there is anything I can do, besides link to your blog, let me know. I want to help. I have to help.

As far as posting photos of my son, I share your ideas completely.

Ciao and again thanks,

Carolyn R. Parsons said...

Followed David's POTD here(congratulations on that) and what a great post. I agree on all accounts. I refuse to let paranoia get me and I know the internet is not likely where the predator that I SHOULD watch for waits.

I look forward to your future posts on this topic


Debbie said...

Such an excellent post. No wonder David chose you for POTD. Wonderful points for us all to ponder.

Brian Miller said...

great post. congrats on POTD. working in counseling...i see this a lot. it breaks my heart the little ones that have sucha twisted view of the world through the eyes of their tormentor. sad.

tommie said...

Great post. I stopped posting bathing suit pics awhile back when someone on Flickr was "favoriting" pics of my little boy.

I stopped blogging as well for the time being after I found a pic of the kids on someone else's blog. I recently saw a post on how to disable the "right-click" ability on your blog. If I can figure it out, I might start blogging again.

These things make me all too aware of what all I put out there on my blog as well as FB.

Michaela said...

Thank you for bringing this up... I don't have children of my own but I care for the children of others as much as they were mine.
I follow lots of blogs online and sometimes I really wonder if the people posting photographs of their (partly not dressed) children or grand children are even aware of the risk they are taking...
Great Post!
Congratulations on the POTD!

Cheffie-Mom said...

Great post. This is information we all need to be aware of. I commend you for making a difference and congratulations on the Post of the Day Award - well deserved!

marcia@joyismygoal said...

Sad but true -good advice -congrats on post of the day as well

Willow said...

I use the same photo posting precautions with my grandson and indeed with my adult children. As a teacher I am always attuned to the little nuances of what a child DOESN'T say. I applaud your decision to pursue this avenue of helping children.
And congratulations on POTD~

introspection said...

Informative post. Statistics are unacceptable no doubt. It's a pity such sickos live amidst us in normal society.
Perhaps, the worst child abuse was one of my maid's child of 10 years being molested by her own father. My maid would weep her heart out every time her husband tried to do that. A police complaint in India yields no results for protection.
I think the laws should be harsher for child abusers than any other law on this planet. What kind of sick people are there who have no conscience and live a normal life after doing such crimes, I don't understand.
An extremely well deserved POTD from David. Will wait for more from you.

femminismo said...

Very informative. There was something on the news tonight here in Oregon about a woman whose child's picture was copied and shared and the child was put on an adoption Web site or listing. Some good cautious advice on your site. I also got a post of the day on David's authorblog. Congrats to you!- Jeanne in Oregon

Christina said...

Those statistics are horrifying. Ugh. I look forward to your future posts on this subject. There is so much to worry about in this corrupt world!

Kim said...

Excellent post. Thanks for the stats. It is sobering to hear this. Sometimes we do get carried away with worrying about one thing that is popularized by the media, meanwhile ignoring real concerns. Glad to know that you are getting involved in finding some solutions.

Unknown said...

Great post! Thank you for all the information, certainly makes me think about what I'm posting for the world to see. And more importantly who I allow to spend time with my children.

TuTu's Bliss said...

This is exactly how I feel too. What I find so frustrating is the light punishments for offenders. Everyone is worried about the war on drugs, the war on terror but noone talks about the war on women and children. This month I am focusing on women and equality (in preperation for Women's Equality day) do you mind if I send people your way? Hugs, Jen

noexcuses said...

What a wonderful post. I'm so glad you are involved with such a very important cause. Thank you for sharing this information.

I work for school counselors and because of my personal experiences, am always looking for signs in the kids we see.

God Bless you.

Anonymous said...

My darling is very funny about family pics on the internet because of this and other safety concerns. I had no idea the statistics for boys were so much higher! Thanks for this series, as difficult as the subject matter is. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

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