I know a guy who cheats on his wife. He cheats on her every day. He cheats on her multiple times a day. He’s a husband and a father and a serial adulterer.
I shouldn’t know this fact about him, but it came up in conversation a few days ago. We were talking about the divorce rate; both of us gave our theories as to why the statistics are so high. I mentioned in my diagnosis a few studies that show pornography to be a root cause in over 50 percent of divorces annually.
He laughed. “People don’t get divorced over porn.” He went on to explain that porn isn’t a “big deal” to most people. It’s not “like it’s cheating or something.” He told me that he looks at it multiple times daily. His wife, he insisted, might be a little peeved if she knew the extent of it, but only because women overreact about “that kind of thing.”
What kind of thing? Their husbands spending all day obsessively plunging through the darkest regions of the internet for graphic sexual images of rape, abuse, perversion, exploitation and other forms of filthy depravity previously unknown to mankind?
Yeah. That kind of thing. No reason why any wife should be too upset about that, apparently.
Listen guys, I know this is an uncomfortable conversation. But it’s time we man up and get real about pornography. First things first: if you’re married and you look at porn, you are cheating. Period. From a Christian perspective, this can’t be debated. Christ laid it out very clearly: if you lust after another woman, you have committed adultery. When we look at porn we are choosing to succumb to that lust; we are indulging it, fertilizing it, giving it respite in our minds. We are diving into it headfirst and soaking in it like a sponge. We are lessening ourselves, betraying our wives and participating in the violent exploitation of women (and girls). Or minds and our bodies belong to the Lord and to our wives; pornography, therefore, intrudes on their domain. If we look at porn, we are adulterers. We are adulterers in all the worst ways.
We don’t even need to refer to Scripture to figure out the simple equation that porn equals adultery.
Why wouldn’t it?
Because you aren’t physically in contact with another woman?
So what? That’s merely a matter of semantics and circumstance. The absence of physical touch doesn’t automatically free you of the scarlet letter — if it did, ‘sexting’ with other women would be fair game, I suppose. How would you feel if you looked through your wife’s phone and found racy, sexually graphic text messages she’d sent to a man at her office? Would you be alright with it as long as she could prove she never had any physical contact with him? Or is that totally different because she knows the guy, whereas porn is anonymous and impersonal? See, we find ourselves constructing many arbitrary lines of distiniction when we are deteremined to rationalize behavior we instinctively know to be immoral and wrong.
But, OK, what if she didn’t know the guy? What if she was engaging in “fantasies” with men she never met? Imagine that, in your cyber travels, you stumbled upon a porn site featuring pictures and videos of a particularly alluring young female: your wife. How would that sit with you? Your wife selling digital sex all over the internet — how would you like that? It might cause a bit of a marital dispute, wouldn’t you say?
If you wouldn’t want your wife being a porn provider, you ought to understand why she wouldn’t want you to be a porn consumer. If you wouldn’t want her to invite and encourage other men to violate her in their minds, you ought to understand why she wouldn’t want you to accept the invitation to violate other women in your mind.
I don’t mean to concentrate only on married men. Porn is poison for everyone, married or not. And I’m not here to castigate you if you’ve stumbled. We live in a society that preys upon a man’s weaknesses, shoving sex into his face at hyper speed every day, all day, all of the time. This isn’t an excuse; just an attempt to put things into context. I won’t yell at a guy who fights a porn addiction anymore than I’d yell at a guy who fights a crack addiction. But at least the crack addict likely won’t encounter very many people (besides his dealer) who will tell him that it’s actually healthy to smoke crack. If he ventures outside of the abandoned shack where he scores his dope, he probably won’t find any respectable people who will say, “hey, crack isn’t a big deal — it’s totally natural to smoke crack, man!” In that way, the crack smoker has a leg up on the porn addict. The porn addict, by contrast, has to fight both the compulsion itself and the myriad of creeps who will try to convince him that it’s all just a bit of innocent fun.
That’s a lie, of course. It’s not innocent. It’s not fun.
I could cite for you the mounds of psychiatric research proving the detrimental effects of pornography on the brain. But you can do that research yourself.
I could tell you about sex slavery, human trafficking, drug abuse, and child molestation, and I could explain how the porn industry wouldn’t exist without these necessary ingredients. But these are conclusions you can draw on your own, if ever you take even a moment to think about it.
I could remind you that these women you find on your porn sites might not be women at all — they could be children — and there’s no way for you to know for sure. I could then point out that any avid porn customer has most likely at some point been a child porn customer, whether he knew it or not. But this is, indeed, an obvious and inescapable reality.
I could tell you that many children view graphic porn for the first time before the age of 12. I could tell you that we haven’t even begun to reap the atrocious fruits that will come from an entire generation raised on the heinous perversions of internet pornography. But it’s probably too late for these warnings.
So what is left? Perhaps nothing, really. Pornography is evil, empty, deadening, dirty — this is something we all know. That’s why, unless you are either psychotic or utterly despicable, you wouldn’t want your daughter to get into the porn business. That’s why most people hide their porn habits. That’s why it still isn’t considered acceptable to browse “adult” websites at your desk at work or at a table in Starbucks (although people still do, in both scenarios). That’s why you only find porn shops and strip clubs in the slummy, rundown parts of town. No matter how hedonistic and “open minded” we become, we still recognize porn as something that ought to be stowed away in the dank, dark corners of our lives. This is Natural Law, and we can’t escape it. We have an innate understanding of right and wrong, whether we want it or not.
Married men: I think we should be spending our free time with our families, or reading interesting books so that we can sharpen our minds, or building things, or exercising, or doing anything else that will make us better men. Porn will not make you a better man. It will make you smaller. It will make you a liar. It will kill that instinct inside you that calls you to protect and honor women. It will turn you into something you never wanted to be. It will turn you into a sneaky, shameful pervert. It will turn you into an adulterer.
Real men don’t look at pornography.This post was written by Matt Walsh. To find his original post with comments, go here: http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/11/25/married-men-your-porn-habit-is-an-adultery-habit/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The first generation Christians were brought out of evil. The power of Jesus radically changed these individuals. Look at the list of sins from which the first generation Christians were delivered: 1) sexual immorality, 2) idolatry, 3) adultery, 4) homosexuality, 5) greed, 6) drunkenness and 7) swindling. I Cor 6:9-10
Did you catch that? The church treasurer who cooks the books is among the list of individuals who do things that the church vehemently speaks out against. Yet…
“…that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I Cor 6:11
Did you also catch “that is what some of you were”? These individuals were brought out of their lifestyle and were justified. Justified is a term that means “just as if I’d not sinned.”
So what did the early church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
On this blog you will find a post written by a man who did just that and now can’t find a church that will accept him. I know another Christian man who 20+ years past his crime, paid for his crime, and has set up boundaries to not be around children, who is searching for a church that will accept him into their fellowship.
What is the church’s response to these individuals? We will accept the greedy person (“God I want you to bless me with a Cadillac”) and in fact will have opulent church potlucks where people that don’t need the rich foods pile it on. We forgive the church board member who cheats on his wife.
But what do we as a church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
This is not an easy answer… There are three complicating but very important points to make before answering that question:
1. As a church we have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children are very vulnerable.
2. Statistically, people who commit sexual crimes are rarely truly rehabilitated.
3. People who commit sexual crimes are very good at making you think that they are rehabilitated when they really aren’t.
Knowing these three facts, as a church what should be our response to someone who is a sexual offender? Especially to those who have repented, become a sincere Christian; have turned away from their sinfulness and desire to have fellowship with other Christians? Tomorrow we will make some recommendations.
BE A MAN.
Nearly one in ten young Americans has committed an act of sexual violence, a new study in the journal JAMA Pediatrics reports. Of the 1,058 teenagers and young adults, ages 14 to 21, who participated in the online study, 8% reported that they had kissed, touched, or “made someone else do something sexual” when they “knew the person did not want to.” Three percent of teens verbally coerced a victim into sex; 3% attempted to physically force them into sex; 2% perpetrated a completed rape.
It’s long been apparent that teenagers face an elevated risk for sexual abuse. One 1998 study found that 12% of high school girls and 5% of boys have been sexually abused; a 1997 study found that girls ages 16 to 19 are “four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault." But this new report sheds light on the demographics, tactics, and attitudes of young sex offenders. One finding in particular stands out: The prototypical teen sexual abuser is a white male from a higher-income family.
Here’s what else the study found:
Demographics: Most perpetrators committed their first act of sexual violence at age 16. Boys are more likely to coerce or force others into sex than girls are (though girls offend, too). White kids and higher-income kids are slightly more likely to rape than their peers. Eighty percent of victims were girls; 18 percent were boys; 5 percent were transgender.
Pornography use: Teens who had watched porn were more likely to be perpetrators, but the discrepancy was “almost entirely explained by whether the material was violent in nature.” Teens who had seen non-violent pornography were equally likely to have committed sexual violence as teens who had seen none, but those who had watched material that “depicted one person hurting another person while doing something sexual” were more likely to be offenders (the study doesn't address causality).
Relationships: In every case, the victim was known to the perpetrator. Fifty-two percent met their victim at school. Three out of four perpetrators targeted a “boyfriend or girlfriend.” Two percent met online.
Tactics: Thirty-two percent of perpetrators argued or pressured another person into sex; 63 percent guilted them into it; 5 percent threatened physical force, and 8 percent used it. Fifteen percent employed alcohol.
Consequences: In 66 percent of cases, “no one found out” about the incident, and the perpetrator faced no consequences. Twenty-nine percent of perpetrators were found out, but were not punished. Eleven percent “got in trouble with their parents.” Just 2 percent—one perpetrator found by the study—was arrested. Seven percent of offenders said they felt “not at all responsible” for the sexual violence; 35 percent felt “completely” responsible; 48 percent felt “somewhat” responsible. Fifty percent felt that their victim was “completely” responsible. (Yes, the overlap confuses us as well.)
The study challenges several popular assumptions about teen sexual violence. Girls can be abusers, and boys can be victims. The study's authors suggest that in light of the findings on race and income, healthcare professionals "assess and perhaps challenge our assumptions about sexual violence as an ill solely conscripted to underprivileged populations." And given the significant proportion of crimes that were discovered but not reported—and the percentage of parents who took care of punishment in their own homes—the study speaks to the opportunity for peers, educators, and caretakers to take action when they discover that a young person in their lives has victimized another. The low percentage of punishment and the high percentage of perpetrators who blame their victims is not a heartening mix.
This post was written by A Hess. For the original post, go to: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/10/08/one_in_10_young_americans_has_committed_sexual_violence_new_study_finds.html
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
"I got up in the middle of the nite and he was just sitting there on the couch, watching a scrambled TV channel" is what this single mother told me of her teenage son. This was the first indication that she had that her son may have had sexual compulsion issues.
Now, he was sitting in juvenile detention and she was trying to find a counselor to get help for her son. He had been picked up for entering his neighbors apartment without permission.
The neighbor had set a trap for him. She had been noticing that some of her underwear was missing. At first, the neighbor thought that her underwear disappeared in the dryer. However, some times, when she would come home from work, her underwear drawer was in disarray, different from what it was when she left for work in the morning. The police were notified and a hidden camera was in place. Upon reviewing the recording with the police, she identified this young man as the suspect. When the police picked him up, the young man seemed relieved that he was caught. He broke down and told his story.
His upbringing did not reflect anything out of the ordinary, just a father who was absent. After his parents divorced, his mother worked two jobs and his father came around for special occasions but otherwise did not have much contact with him. He wanted manly affection and wasn't getting it from his father. He wanted a mother's affection and she gave him love as she could but was so busy with work and raising him and his older sister.
The young man stated that he was viewing porn with some of his friends and there was one movie about a man who wore women's panties because he liked the way it felt against his genitals. This young man was looking to soothe himself because of the lack of affection he was getting from his family, so he started to get his sisters underwear and found it very sexually stimulating. Next, he was getting up late at nite to watch the Playboy channel on TV. Mom didn't pay for that channel but it still came in scrambled and sometimes he could make out pictures and could hear the sound. While sitting there watching this channel he would masturbate into his sister's panties.
Eventually, this got to be less stimulating so he started fantasizing about a sexual liaison with the neighbor. He found that there was a broken window that the landlord had not fixed that he could easily get into. So, on occasion, he would get into his neighbors apartment and take some underwear. Later, that nite, in front of the TV he would fantasize and masturbate.
You can imagine where this young man's sexual urges may have taken him had he not been stopped by the police. Nevertheless, he entered treatment for his sexual behavior which led to him committing crimes and it appears that a future life of crime was averted. This young man heavily invested himself in treatment.
There were a few things missing from this young man's life that could have helped him not get involved in criminal activity:
1. If his father had taken more of interest in him and spent time with him he may not have craved the affection he so desired
2. If his mother did not have to work two jobs to pay the bills she could have spent more time with him and also had a better handle on his activity
3. This young man was very introverted and did not participate in the social life of his school. If he could have joined sports, the arts, band, journalism, etc that could have helped develop his social skills and also given him interests that weren't so purient.
4. This young man was not involved in a church youth group. The parents of other teens could have served as pseudo-surrogate parents, or the youth pastor could have spent time with him.
These could have helped him develop in a healthy manner.
Ultimately, this young man's behavior is his responsibility. It is easy to blame parents, school, church or society and he came to realize that he was responsible for his own feelings, attitudes and actions. Nevertheless, if these four things had not been missing from his life, he would have had more opportunity to challenge some of his assumptions without having to be forced into treatment.
So, men, we have an important place in our society and our churches. Take the time to note those young men who are struggling and pray for opportunities to influence them.
BE A MAN.
Boys who see pornography regularly are more likely to have sexual relations and harass girls in school, a 2010 study has found. Michael Flood, a researcher with the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, said that exposure of children to pornography results in “a range of notable and often troubling effects.”
“Exposure to pornography,” Flood wrote, “helps to sustain young people's adherence to sexist and unhealthy notions of sex and relationships.”
Flood, an Australian sociologist at the University of Wollongong, said this applies especially among boys and men who use pornography frequently. With more violent materials, “consumption intensifies attitudes supportive of sexual coercion and increases their likelihood of perpetrating assault.”
“While children and young people are sexual beings and deserve age-appropriate materials on sex and sexuality, pornography is a poor, and indeed dangerous, sex educator,” he said.
In October 2012, the Australian government’s Institute of Criminology published a study that said the probability that a young person will be exposed to pornography before legal age “is very high.”
“Concern exists, among both parents and policymakers, that widespread, premature exposure to pornography is changing the nature of sexual attitudes, behaviours, and intimate relationships and potentially contributing to sexual violence in society,” wrote Judy Putt, the Institute’s general manager of research.
“The proliferation of pornographic materials and their ease of access are such that it is not a matter of whether a young person will be exposed to pornography but when.” Young people are being “inundated” with “sexual information,” Putt wrote, “before they are developmentally capable of integrating it into a healthy sexual identity.”
A 2003 telephone survey of 200 Australian young people aged 16 to 17 found that 73 per cent of males were exposed to pornographic videos, with 5 per cent exposed weekly and 16 per cent exposed every three to four weeks. The survey found that 84 per cent of males were inadvertently exposed to pornography on the internet, with 38 per cent using internet pornography deliberately. This was compared with two per cent of females who use the internet to view porn. This post was written by H. White. The original post can be found at: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive//ldn/2010/feb/10020301
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Pornography and depictions of sexuality have turned more than 4,500 British children – some of them as young as five – into sexual offenders, according to a UK-based child welfare charity.
A Freedom of Information Act request showed that 4,562 minors – 98 percent of them boys – committed 5,028 sexual offenses over a three year period, from 2009-2012.
Three separate police forces reported five-year-olds committing sexual offenses.
However, the London Telegraph reports, “the true figure” of total offenders “could be even higher as nine forces, including the three largest – the Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police and West Midlands Police – could not provide the relevant figures.”
Twenty percent of cases reported involved a family member. In another third, a family friend was victimized.
“We know that technology and easy access to sexual material is warping young people’s views of what is ‘normal’ or acceptable behavior,” said Claire Lilley, policy adviser at The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).
The report's content, though specific to Great Britain, contains universal truths.
“Child-on-child sex abuse and rape is a growing problem in every culture where pornography flourishes,” Patrick Trueman, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan administration and president of Morality In Media, told LifeSiteNews.com.
“Children act out what they see. If they see acts of love and charity, they will mimic those,” Trueman said. “But when they see sexual violence, domination, rape, and other similar acts so commonly depicted in modern-day pornography, as today's children do, they will act out those, as well.”
The British report joins an accumulating mound of heartwrenching stories showing how pornography has permanently scarred children around the world – both the victims and the perpetrators.
In the Australian state of Victoria alone, 414 minors were referred for sexual offenses to the Centres Against Sexual Assault (CASA) last year. Just more than half could be placed in rehabilitation programs.
Therapists continually cite the role access to pornography and sexually explicit television scenarios play in sexualizing children and, in some cases, triggering them to exploit others.
Child therapist John Woods of London reported a case of a 13-year-old boy who raped his five-year-old sister after developing a “complex fantasy world” warped by “two years of constant porn use.”
Similar reports come from North America.
In Canada, a 13-year-old boy said his gay porn consumption led to his repeated rape of a four-year-old boy who lived in his foster home.
The omnipresent flickers of porn have caused alarm at the highest levels of European government.
A cross-party report from the British parliament found most boys learned about sex by watching pornography, an influence that “negated the primacy of relationships whilst promoting a self-centered focus of sex.”
That influence magnifies anti-social behavior. A 2010 study from Australia's La Trobe University found boys who watch porn are more likely to harass girls. Nearly one-third of British girls aged 16-18 said they experienced unwanted sexual touching in a 2010 YouGov poll.
“We must do more to shield young people from an increasingly sexualized society,” Lilley said.
As a result of cases such as these, Iceland is considering banning pornography because of the harm it inflicts on women and children.
The move touched off fierce debate in the UK. This report elevates that discussion to a new importance.
“The world is suffering an untreated pandemic of harm from pornography and children are suffering the most,” Trueman told LifeSiteNews.This post was written by Ben Johnson. For the original post, click hereBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Pornography has long held a controversial place in society, and its relationship with a number of behaviors and attitudes has been highly debated.
But the concern remains: How does viewing pornography affect our attitudes towards women? A recent paper published in the Journal of Communication found that exposure to pornography was related to and increased sexist attitudes, but only among a subgroup of users.
Gert Martin Hald, Theis Lange, University of Copenhagen, and Neil Malamuth, University of California, Los Angeles, asked 200 Danish adults aged 18-30 about their past pornography consumption; assessed a central part of their personality (the trait of agreeableness i.e., individual low in agreeableness typically holder higher levels of antagonism, coldness, hostility, suspiciousness, disagreeability, unfriendliness, and self-interest); and exposed them to hardcore pornography in the laboratory. They then evaluated how participants’ personality and the exposure to pornography affected a variety of sexist attitudes.
Among women increased past pornography consumption was not found to be associated with any of the sexist attitudes investigated. Among men increased past pornography consumption was initially found to be associated with more negative attitudes toward women including more hostility, negative prejudices, and stereotypes.
However, when the researchers actually exposed participants to pornography, personality (agreeableness) was found to influence the relationship between pornography and sexist attitudes so that it was only among participants low in agreeableness that pornography was found to increase sexist attitudes. Among this group it was found that laboratory exposure to pornography modestly increased hostile sexist attitudes. Further, this increase was found to be brought about by increases in sexual arousal to the pornographic exposure material. For all other participants, pornography exposure was found not to influence sexist attitudes.
“The study is important because it may help nuance the view of effects of porn and enable us to better understand for whom adverse effects of porn are most likely and the mechanisms by which such effects occur. This could be used in prevention, education, or clinical interventions,” said Hald, the lead author. “The study shows the importance of individual differences in research on pornography and underscores that effects of pornography on attitudes may not be the same for everyone”.
This post was taken from PSYPOST. The original post can be found at: http://www.psypost.org/2013/09/pornography-reinforces-sexist-attitudes-among-a-subgroup-of-heterosexuals-20077
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
A bit more than a year ago, we made public here on Public Discourse a letter we had sent to the chief executive officers of our nation’s largest hotel chains, respectfully asking them to stop offering pornography in their hotel rooms. We said:
"We are, respectively, a Christian and a Muslim, but we appeal to you not on the basis of truths revealed in our scriptures but on the basis of a commitment that should be shared by all people of reason and goodwill: a commitment to human dignity and the common good. As teachers and as parents, we seek a society in which young people are encouraged to respect others and themselves—treating no one as an impersonal object or thing. We hope that you share our desire to build such a society.
Pornography is degrading, dehumanizing, and corrupting. It undermines self-respect and respect for others. It reduces persons—creatures bearing profound, inherent, and equal dignity—to the status of objects. It robs a central aspect of our humanity—our sexuality—of its dignity and beauty. It ensnares some in addiction. It deprives others of their sense of self-worth. It teaches our young people to settle for the cheap satisfactions of lust, rather than to do the hard, yet ultimately liberating and fulfilling, work of love."
One hotel chain, Marriott, informed us that they were “phasing out” offerings of pornography in their hotel rooms. Another, Hilton, defended its participation in the pornography business by appealing, dubiously in our view, to libertarian principles. Others, so far as we can tell, have ignored our plea.
We wish to reiterate that plea here, however, by holding up to the American hotel executives the highly laudable actions of Petter Stordalen, owner of Nordic Hotels, one of Scandinavia’s largest chains. Mr. Stordalen, after becoming involved in international efforts to fight the horrific practice of trafficking women and girls into sexual slavery, announced that pornography would no longer be offered to his customers. In a public statement explaining his decision, he said:
"The porn industry contributes to trafficking, so I see it as a natural part of having a social responsibility to send out a clear signal that Nordic Hotels doesn't support or condone this."
He’s right. The pornography industry is corrupt through and through—inherently so. It should come as no surprise that it is connected to something as exploitative, degrading, and dehumanizing as human trafficking. Bravo to Petter Stordalen for refusing to continue profiting from peddling the industry’s wares.
Of course, even if trafficking were not part of the reality of the industry, good people should be opposed to pornography and unwilling to profit from it. As we said in our letter to hotel executives:
"We beg you to consider the young woman who is depicted as a sexual object in these movies, as nothing but a bundle of raw animal appetites whose sex organs are displayed to the voyeurs of the world and whose body is used in loveless and utterly depersonalized sex acts. Surely we should regard that young woman as we would regard a sister, daughter, or mother. She is a precious member of the human family. You may say that she freely chooses to compromise her dignity in this way, and in some cases that would be true, but that gives you no right to avail yourself of her self-degradation for the sake of financial gain. Would you be willing to profit from her self-degradation if she were your sister? Would you be willing to profit from her self-degradation if she were your own beloved daughter?"
The reality is, however, just as Mr. Stordalen depicts it. Human trafficking is part of the reality. And it is time for his fellow hotel executives to face up to that fact.
Indeed, it is time for Mr. Stordalen’s American counterparts to follow his commendable example. If Nordic Hotels can demonstrate this kind of moral and social responsibility, then there is no reason that Hilton Hotels and the other large chains cannot. Let them stop trying to deceive the public—and perhaps even themselves—with rhetoric about respecting or even protecting their customers’ liberty. Pornography is a social plague with horrific real-life consequences for real live people—addicts, spouses, children, communities, girls and women trafficked into sexual servitude.
At this late season of our nation’s experience with the social costs of pornography there is no longer any excuse for supposing that porn is merely a form of harmless naughtiness. Even the socially very liberal nation of Iceland is moving to ban or severely restrict it by law. Whatever one thinks of legal prohibitions or restrictions, everyone should recognize that pornography is a moral and social evil that no decent person would want to profit from or have anything to do with.
This was written by Robert P. George who is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf is President of Zaytuna College and a contributor to this post as well. The original post can be found at the Witherspoon Institute. Click here to be directed to the Witherspoon Institute's website.
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Every year, federal and state governments pour millions of dollars into combatting sex trafficking through local and federal law enforcement agencies. But the emerging link between the child welfare system and child sex trafficking in the United States underscores the need for a new tactic, one that addresses the social origins of child sex trafficking.
At the end of July, the FBI’s Innocence Lost initiative, the wing of the agency tasked with addressing domestic child sex trafficking, conducted its annual three-day Operation Cross Country. During these 72 hours, federal agents across the country “recover” juvenile victims from sexual exploitation and arrest their exploiters. This year, the agency boasts that it saved 105 children and arrested 152 pimps. According to U.S. law, anyone under 18 and involved in the sex trade is considered sexually trafficked.
However, what happens to those who are “rescued” is unclear. Whether the children are placed in juvenile justice proceedings or the Department of Social Services, the story of the rescue mission as the FBI tells it ends when the handcuffs go on—often both on the exploited young person as well as his or her exploiter. (A video montage of Operation Cross Country VII accompanies the FBI’s press release.)
Julianne Sohn, spokesperson for the San Francisco division of the FBI, explained to AlterNet that the agency couldn’t account for what happens to the youth after they are “recovered” because local law enforcement agencies have varying policies on how to handle teens.
“If you’re 17 years old and sex-trafficked in New York you are literally a victim and a criminal at the same time,” Chrystal DeBoise told AlterNet. DeBoise is the co-director of the New York-based Sex Workers Project, an organization advocates for both sex workers and trafficking victims.
The Sex Workers Project has helped to decriminalize individuals who have been sex trafficked and charged with prostitution by successfully lobbying for the Vacating Convictions Law, passed in 2010 in New York, which allows a trafficked individual to have her record cleared.
But DeBoise notes there is still a long way to go: “Over 50 percent of our clients are trafficked and they tell us that the arrests were some of the most traumatizing parts of their trafficking experience.”
“It’s shocking to believe that you could be trafficked and for the rest of your life you have a prostitution record,” DeBoise said. “It is shocking.”
These FBI sweeps also result in the netting of adult sex workers. The data for Operation Cross Country in the Bay Area reveals that while its ostensible focus is to rescue child victims, the program results in a markedly higher arrest rate for adult sex workers: for the 12 children rescued, 65 sex workers were arrested in the Bay Area alone. During Operation Cross Country in 2008, the FBI recovered 47 juveniles while arresting 518 prostitutes.
Prioritizing criminal justice proceedings to combat child sex-trafficking has resulted in a paucity of services devoted to helping children most vulnerable to sexual exploitation: those in foster care. Depending on the city, 50 to 80 percent of child victims are or have been involved in this part of the child welfare system. The correlation has led many advocates to argue that funding needs to be redirected away from law enforcement and toward social services that are designed to work with traumatized children.
“People are beginning to realize that juvenile justice is not appropriate to serve sexually exploited children. People are frustrated that those kids are going to the criminal justice system rather than the foster care system, which is designed to help kids,” Kate Walker, from the National Center for Youth Law, told AlterNet. Earlier this year, Walker authored a publication for the California Child Welfare Council examining the needs of victimized children and how the welfare system should address them.
Southern California Congresswoman Karen Bass has proposed legislation to the House of Representatives that she hopes will address the cyclical relationship between foster care and child sexual exploitation. In April she reintroduced Strengthening the Child Welfare Response to Human Trafficking Act (SCWRHT) that had died in committee last year. (After being elected to Congress in 2010, Bass co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and has since been a strong advocate for extending services to foster youth.)
SCWRHT would establish training programs so child welfare agencies could better detect children at risk of becoming victims and respond to those who have already been traumatized and victimized. The legislation would also extend services to trafficking victims up to the age of 21.
Bass has distinguished herself by focusing on the social roots of sex trafficking, rather than investing in law enforcement and tougher penalties. Explaining why she voted against last November’s Proposition 35, which increases fines and penalties for convicted human traffickers, she said: “I worry that just like with Three Strikes, when there is a horrific crime we come up with an extreme response and the net gets cast too wide.”
“It’s not my focus to increase penalty, because I am also worried about the pimps.” According to one case study, approximately 25 percent of pimps come out of the child welfare system.
In 1990—fourteen years before she would make the transition to electoral politics—Bass founded and directed Community Coalition, a grassroots organization based in South Los Angeles dedicated to strengthening black and latino communities ravaged by economic injustice, the War on Drugs, and poor quality schools.
After being elected to Congress in 2010, Bass co-founded the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth and has since been a strong advocate for extending services to foster youth.
Like Bass, Kate Walker believes that with reform, the child welfare system has the potential to serve as a support network to child victims. “I think the child welfare system has a ways to go in terms of setting itself up to adequately serve these children, like prevention curriculum that includes teaching about exploitation, healthy relationships and ways to protect yourself.”
But while advocates may agree that improving the child welfare system is essential to addressing child sex trafficking, there is persistent ambivalence among policy advocates on whether locking up sexually exploited children is necessary in order to save them.
“There is a big divide in the field: should we be locking kids up or should we meet them where they’re at and provide them what they need,” says DeBoise.
Bass’ bill would create “specialized, long-term residential facilities or safe havens serving children who are human trafficking victims.”
One such safe house in Florida was forced to shut down within weeks of opening after one girl left the grounds and was raped. This recent tragic incident has led some legislators and social workers in Florida to conclude that it may be necessary to keep the premises of safe houses locked so that inhabitants cannot leave freely.
However, as DeBoise points out, “We don’t consider locking up any other victim the way we do with this population. It wouldn’t occur to us that we should lock up a victim of, say, domestic violence, if she continued to go back to her abuser.”
“When looking at the population of runaway kids involved in prostitution, there’s a tendency to treat them as criminals and force them into care.”
Casting further doubt on the incarceration model, Walker notes that one method of rehabilitating victims of sexual exploitation in California has been to send them out of state, far away from their exploiters. “Some of these places are on top of a mountain so the kids can’t run. But then they are just exploited upon their return to their communities.”
“I want to look at providing more services in the communities from which they come, because those are the communities that need them. When kids run away [from foster care] they are doing so because we are not providing something that someone else is; we’re not adequately meeting their needs,” explains Walker.
Speaking as a psychotherapist, DeBoise argues it is essential that services enable the youths to opt into therapy and shelter of their own volition: “We need shelters that are open and that have a high level of sophistication in the staff. We need to acknowledge that people can leave and they can also come back. When we work with those principles, we are successful. It’s not a problem to keep our clients, they don’t run away.”
DeBoise urges people to look at the phenomenon of domestic sex trafficking as part of a larger picture: “I think the way to end trafficking is to take seriously poverty and its consequences, racism and its consequences, sexism and its consequences. Trafficking is at the intersection of all these things.”
This post was written by C. Silver. For the original post, go to: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/15/far_too_many_kids_move_from_foster_care_into_the_sex_trade_partner/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The FBI announced Monday the arrests of 150 people and recovery of 105 children involved in child prostitution rings across the country.
The 76-city sweep, conducted in the past three days, represents the largest such law enforcement action focused on children forced into sexual slavery, federal authorities said.
Assistant FBI Director Ron Hosko, head of the bureau's criminal division, said the children ranged from 13 to 17 years old. The youngest of the victims was allegedly being offered up by her father, who also was allegedly involved in videotaping his daughter's sexual encounters.
"We have victims whose new normal is sexual abuse,'' Hosko said. "We are trying to take this crime out of the shadows and put a spotlight on it.''
In operations involving 230 separate law enforcement agencies, authorities either made arrests or child recoveries from Atlanta to Los Angeles. The weekend action, called Operation Cross Country, also is the latest in a national campaign that has helped recover 2,700 children since 2005.
Hosko said the children, generally recruited from foster care or group homes, were being offered up on Internet sites, at truck stops, casinos and street corners.
In addition to at least one parent, the alleged pimps included individuals acting alone and some with affiliations to organized crime. In many cases, Hosko said, the children "don't see any avenues of escape'' from their handlers.
John Ryan, president and chief executive officer of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, called the criminal activity "an escalating threat against America's children.''
Ryan said the law enforcement action "is saving lives.''
The largest number of children -- 12 -- were recovered in San Francisco during the weekend sweep. The most alleged pimps --18 -- were arrested in Detroit.
In the Detroit area, where 10 children were recovered, a 17-year-old girl was rescued Saturday night from an Econolodge Hotel, where she was being held against her will and beaten. Police said a separate prostitution arrest yielded information that led police to the hotel.
In Flint, Mich., a 911 call led police to a home where they rescued two 17-year-old girls who were being assaulted and forced into prostitution. Genessee County sheriff's deputies responded and rushed the girls out of the home. A suspect, whose identity has not yet been released, was arrested.
Criminal charges are expected to be brought both in the state and federal courts and will involve a variety of offenses, including human trafficking and coercion.
LIST OF CITIES: Breakdown of arrests, children recovered
TOUGHER LAWS: Nevada increases penalties for pimps.
"Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America," Hosko said. "This operation serves as a reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen anywhere and that the FBI remains committed to stopping this cycle of victimization and holding the criminals who profit from this exploitation accountable."
This post was written by T. Baldas of the Detroit Free Press. For the original post, go to: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/29/fbi-arrest-child-prostitution-ring-rescue/2595725/
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.