Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Social Justice: On-line safety

This is going to be an unusual format for a social justice post. I am not going to inform you in journalistic or reportorial fashion about the problem because everyone who reads here is savvy enough to know about it.

What I am going to try to do is cover some of the things the recent reports on CNN and NBC Dateline have neglected to address.

The core solution.

Predators operating on-line, soliciting sex, is just a microcosm of the larger problem. The real point is that sexually predatory behavior is nearly everywhere. The computer is just one more available vehicle, one more means to an end. It beats trolling girls at the mall.

So, we can watch Dateline "To Catch a Predator" shows until George Bush reaches Enlightenment and it's not going to change a single thing.

Here's my suggestion:

I believe we need to institute character education back into the school curriculum. There is no way to convince me that with all the brilliant minds present in the world that it is not possible to come up with a culturally-neutral set of standards that would apply in any society. It needs to be something that all parents can support.

There seems to be a distorted belief that sex is a form of validation. People use sex for all sorts of things but mostly I believe predators use it to fill up an empty hole inside themselves. It is how they validate their existence, their feeling of inclusion and, after all, it doesn't really take much talent to perform. Any reasonably healthy human body can handle sex.

I believe we need to start teaching children at a very young age that sex is a normal and healthy part of committed and loving relationships with others, gay or straight. It is pleasurable. There is no need to include shame and condemnation around it at all. That approach is one mistake made too often by social conservatives.

We need to teach young men that character is still what counts. Honor. Dignity. Courage. Being a good partner. If the young man is straight, a good father. We need to teach young men that emotionally manipulative, deceptive or aggressive invasion of other peoples' bodies for selfish gratification is immoral behavior.

We need to teach young women that their bodies belong to them. There is no requirement to "put out" to prove to a boyfriend that she "loves" him. Emotional manipulation is not a part of "love" in any regard. We need to teach her that any kind of intimate touch always requires her permission, no matter what the circumstances. We also need to teach her that the things she sees on TV and in music videos is not real life. It is fantasy.

Indiscriminate sex is unsatisfying and usually leaves an even greater feeling of alienation and emptiness. Being used by another is demeaning and degrading. There is a price to be paid for that in terms of self-respect.

We can spin our social wheels for generations to come with legislation and horror stories. We will not "scare" the predators away and we will not "scare" potential targets into recognizing it.

In other words, this requires a holistic approach, an approach that includes respect for self, respect for others, respect for parents and respect for society.

So, go ahead. Rip it apart. I welcome the dialogue. :)




dmmgmfm said...

Indiscriminate sex is unsatisfying and usually leaves an even greater feeling of alienation and emptiness. Being used by another is demeaning and degrading. There is a price to be paid for that in terms of self-respect.

That, my dear, is it in a nutshell. Too many young women and men don't realize what they are getting into when they start down that path. It won't end well for most of them and that is very sad.

Pam said...

Did you know that there is a new 'cult' out there among young people called "friends with benefits?" Loosely translated, it means sex for the sake of sex, with friends, no meaning attached.

That said, I agree with your post, all of it, one hundred percent.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree as well Chani. Band Aid cures don't work in the long run. What works is a deeper rooted change, looking at values and character.

Great post!

Bob said...

If our society could get over it's puritan/religious roots regarding sex I think a lot, if not most, sexual crimes would go away. We as a society think sex is taboo, private, even dirty. I just don't see us getting over that any time soon. I hate to be pessimistic, but with a religious conservative in the presidency and the majority of congress in their 60's our leaders are predisposed to avoid addressing this issue head on. Any time sex comes up in any public forum, all kinds of hell break loose. European society is SO far ahead of us. I'd hate to think our society will have to wait until it is 1000 years old to be sexually mature.

Girlplustwo said...

I agree. I watched Dateline last night and concluded it's been oversaturated ad nauseum, a million houses could be entered and we'd still see a stream of men. it's attacking the symptom, not the cause. scaring people isn't going to make them stop as much as giving our kids reasons to love and respect themselves. parents have a role. schools could have a role. and i agree w/ bob's comments, absolutely.

Too much technology, Chani....

Anonymous said...

Is European society really "ahead" of us? I'm really asking because I don't know what sexuality is like in other cultures.

It's not only predators who look to sex for validation, which may be why there are so many easy victims. People who are unconscious of what they really want or lack, not knowing the difference.

The privacy of the computer both allows more people to explore sexuality and its variations and intensifies the sense of dark secrecy. Because of this, I feel online sex contributes more to the degradation of sexual mores and warrants the attention it receives.

I agree with all the teaching points you've written. We want to demystify sex, but what ideas do you have about instilling the value of privacy? (I know you've written on this topic before, but I don't recall specifics right now.)

I'm referring to the Public Displays of "Affection" and overt sexuality of advertizing and fashion. I thinking of the giant Adult Sex Store that was just built at a major intersection and gateway to my town, which was bad enough because it is huge and painted school bus yellow, but now they installed a flashing sign with letters over a foot high. I'm so proud my daughter has learned to read, but now what?

LittlePea said...

I agree with you too. Until people get more passionate about education and self acceptance for children instead of getting ridiculously angry about Janet Jackson's boob, nothing is going to change.

Anvilcloud said...

Well, yes, but none of this will happen until George Bush reaches Enlightenment.

Anonymous said...

I come from Québec where Montréal is considered to be one of the most sexually "open" cities in the world. We face the same realities you described so well. We also have the only Sexology program in North America at UQAM university.I studied there for a semester and most of the work we referred to is by Kinsey-an American! Let me tell you, this man was everything but stuck up!

SuperP. said...

What a great post!

I agree.

I have a lot to say on this topic, but I may have to pick up your thread on my site so as not to dominate the comment section with a lengthly posting.

Anonymous said...

As a former teacher, I would say first that no need of specific lessons about behavior, because any material involves education in its process and not only instruction, if you understand what I mean. I remember when I asked my students to present each their turn an article of a magazine , a girl of 15 spoke of an article about the best positions to make love. Of course she wanted to provoke me. I let her do her stuff. All the students were quiet and stared at me to see how I would react. At the end I just said:"Well, you used the word "love" a lot, but all this makes me think more of horses'reproduction, nothing to do with love." ( the student before her had told about how to breed horses.)
Secondly, I think parents have to do the main job there. Another time, a "couple" of young lovers were kissing hard in front of the school. I rushed at them, and had to follow them in the bus where I yelled :" do you want a bed? do that in your home if your parents agree." Then I had a phone call of the parents who said that thye didn"t see any problem until it had no inconvenience for their school work. OK
I had a discussion, about a girl who would change her boy friend every week, with young colleagues who said indiscriminate sex was ok, why not to profit of one's body? I replied that, as you say, where is the self respect? each time you sleep with someone you sleep with all his or her previous lovers in some way. Plus, the main issue was that that girl made very miserable a boy that she "used" for a while.
What means "to be ahead" about sex? Sure, Clinton's story sounded quite hypocritical and a non sense.
Puritanism exists as well in Europe in Latin cultures, while Nordic are more "free".
But what is sex without love? To me, there is the real issue.
Well, there is a lot to say on the subject!

The Atavist said...

I have always spoken openly about sex with my son. I have no problem with sex education at school, but believe (in an ideal world) that parents should provide the values that will encourage respect to lovers and spouses, and responsible behaviour too. The problem is that so few parents appear to have such values, or to be able to pass them on to their children effectively.

The problem I have with such things being delegated to schools, which are part of governmentally -provided services, is that whoever has the largest number of voters in the district will be able to dictate the curriculum. If safeguards are instituted to provide consistency throughout a nation, whose values will be represented? The majority's of course, right or wrong.

No, I don't know what the most effective solution would be. But with the number of sexual predators, the number of abandoned mothers and the number of abortions, things clearly aren't working.

NotSoSage said...


First, great post.

Second, I agree with you on the disproportionate amount of attention being paid to the online issue when it's everywhere, and always has been. I think that we're seeing the supposed increase in attacks we're seeing are spurious and what we're really noting is the increased reporting...the empowering of women, girls and boys who are finally able to admit when they've been attacked.

And I totally agree with you on one of the solutions being a more open dialogue with kids about sex, touching and the control that they should feel over their own bodies. From what I know of the experience of some friends is how messy it can be to confront a predator because, in some cases, the physical experience is sometimes pleasurable while the emotional experience is horrifying. How do we, as adults, remain open so that people can feel safe disclosing to us and discussing the issue at all? It can only happen by starting at day one, in my opinion.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Until George Bush reaches enlightenment. Conservatively speaking, that could be a while.

You make excellent points and I cannot argue with any of them. It's strange that things haven't changed very much since the days when girls were importuned to "prove their love" in backseats, and boys were encouraged to carve notches on their belts.

Self-respect, his or hers, was not a very big part of the package then, and it is still lacking today. Education is the only way to change things, and until that happens, all the many kinds of predatory behaviors will continue.

flutter said...

I've done a lot of research into this particular segment of sexual deviancy.

Here's the rub,it IS a deviancy. As with most abhorrences, standard rules do not apply. Sexual predators be they pedophiles, rapists, or assault and battery offenders with sexual intent, all have one thing in common: abnormal brain chemistry.
This is not something that can be deterred by behavioral modification ,counseling, or even medication. Recitivism in sexual deviants is over 98% percent. The 2 percent has been alloted to study mistakes...
Unfortunately, we can teach young men, and women the importance of treating their bodies like the temples that they are and treating their souls like something of value...and you will still have volumes of sexual preditors preying on children.

In terms of keeping this from happening, it has to come from parents keeping a very watchful, very vigilant eye on their kids. It's a sad world we live in that kids don't get to be kids for long.

Lucia said...

Wonderful post and I'm so glad to see all this thoughtful dialogue!

Susanne said...

No need to rip anything apart, I wholeheartedly agree with you.

thailandchani said...

Laurie, it's something that we all seem to know inherently ~ but it goes on anyway. Maybe there's a "for everyone but me" feeling.


Pam, yes, I heard about the "friends with benefits" cult. It doesn't get more disgusting than that.


Melissa, thanks. :) It seems so obvious.


Bob, that's true. The "forbidden fruit" aspect of it probably leads to a lot of this thinking. It's just so shallow and distasteful that it's often difficult to cope with it. Europe is ahead in one way ~ and very much behind in another. I suppose I still think modesty and self-restraint count, that dishonor matters, and Europe doesn't seem to be very good at that one.


Jen, technology is just a tool. It's a bit like blaming guns and knives for the high murder rate. The real reason for the murder rate is that life has become so cheap.


De, the advertising is social engineering. In that respect, we need to look at who is really benefitting from it. The answer to that is probably fairly obvious: corporations and merchants.


MsPea, the flap over JJ's boob was too hard to comprehend. I do remember that and laughed at it because of the utter absurdity. JJ's boob is a big deal with music videos that pound into the heads of young men that women are "hos" and "bitches" doesn't rate FCC fines?


Anvil, what is the likelihood of GWB ever reaching enlightenment? LOL


Caro, all the education in the world won't do any good if there is no morality attached. That is really what's lacking. We all know what a p*nis is. We know what a va*ina is. Dry, cold facts. Where's the context?


Penny, I'll be watching your site for a post on this. Your perspective will be interesting.


G, you hit the proverbial nail on the head. What is sex without love? What is it without commitment, honor and respect?

I agree that parents have to be involved but also have no objection to a social standard that all are expected to meet.


Atavist, in this particular social system, I can't argue with you at all. As long as morals are considered a competitive sport, there will be trouble. Personally, I don't trust this particular government much at all because it IS for sale.

Morality needs to be a social standard in which all the rest operates.


Sage, I agree with all you've said. It needs to be started from day one.. and it needs to be within the context of an overall moral system.


Susan, self-respect doesn't sell. I suspect that's a big part of the problem and the reason for the predominant cultural standards here.


Flutter, I understand what you're saying. However, I'd say it counts to look at statistics from other cultures. The rate of deviancy isn't nearly so high. That is the problem with research here, as I found in college where my major was sociology. The research in this country is insular. There is very little comparison with other parts of the world or other social systems.


Lucia, it's really great! I like the dialogue, too.


Susanne, thanks. :)

Peace all,


Mom O Matic said...

Anything that has shame, shame, shame attached to it will pervert. I wonder what the child predator statistics are for other countries that are more open and accepting about sex?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what makes you judge Europe far behind about honor and self-restraint, when your rate of crime, divorce, rape,obesity, abortion etc is much higher, which doesn't show a specific sense of self restraint nor honor. PLus what you and others wrote in a previous post about how your girls are dressed, or about I don't remember which actress, or JJ's boob, and Madonna's panty, are a few examples of a not that different society than Europe's one.There is much hyporcisy behind Puritanism.
I wonder too what you exactly mean with the term 'morality".