Remember when you were a child and a public notice at 11 p.m. on television asked parents, “Do you know where your children are?”
Times may have changed but parental concerns are still real. The equivalent modern-day question might be, “Do you know what your children are viewing?”
At the Community Wellness Workshops Day on Feb. 2, Merlyn Horton from the Safe Online Outreach Society spoke about online conduct. In response to a question from a parent, Ms. Horton identified her three top online concerns regarding youth (in this order):
1. easy access to online porn;
2. excessive use of any online content (Facebook, video games, Youtube, MSN, etc.); and
3. personal security and safety.
Recently, CBC aired a documentary titled Sext Up Kids. This documentary explored how technology is influencing teenage sexuality. In “Dangers of young love in the age of sexting,” published in the Vancouver Sun on Saturday, Feb. 18, director Maureen Palmer argues that three elements have converged to create “a perfect storm” for today’s teens and preteens. Ms. Palmer identified:
1. hypersexualization of representation in the media;
2. extreme ease of access to online porn; and
3. social media and cellphones that give kids the ability to become pornographers themselves.
To read the article and/or get specifics about the CBC coverage, see Dangers of young love in the age of sexting
Acknowledging that teenage sexuality in the context of technological influences isn’t easy to address, Horton and Palmer suggest that this subject is “… the elephant in the room.” The documentary does have a viewer discretion warning, but the content is extremely important. Please consider watching Sext Up Kids and maybe invite your teenager(s) to watch it with you: www.cbc.ca/doczone/episode/sext-up-kids.html
Local awareness events planned
Every year the province of B.C. proclaims a week in March for Stop the Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness. This year the week will runs Mar. 5 – 11. The week recognizes the importance of supporting communities to develop prevention, education, enforcement and intervention strategies to address the sexual exploitation of children and youth. Clearwater’s Community Action Network will be raising awareness in our community by organizing a variety of activities.
On Tuesday, March 6, there will be a hot dog sale and information booth set up outside Safety Mart from 2 to 6 p.m.
Following the sale there will be a candlelit walk through the community, leaving from Clearwater Secondary School at 6:30 p.m.
Also, donation tins collecting Change for Change will be at various businesses. All funds raised will support the Children of the Streets Society to host education workshops here in Clearwater.
Fuchsia ribbons will also be distributed throughout the week to help raise awareness of this issue.
We encourage everyone to help recognize the importance of raising awareness about the sexual exploitation of children and youth by participating in one or more of the activities during the awareness week.