Sunday, August 3, 2008

Internet Porn Targets Our Children

WARNING: Reading this article may be harmful to your peace of mind. I intend it to be. I haven't written one of these articles in awhile.

On Thursday, July 17, 2008, I saw a rerun of The Oprah Windfrey Show which was called "Seduced in Cyberspace."

Did you know that if your child has a computer and a webcam in their bedrooms that you may be inviting cyberspace predators into your home and into the lives of your children? Most teenagers know this. As parents, did you know this? I didn't.

Oprah's guests for this show were a New York Times investigative reporter Kurt Eichenwald and a 19-year-old named Justin Berry. Justin started his journey into the world of Internet Porn at the age of 13 with just a computer and a webcam that he talked his mother into letting him buy so that he could talk to his friends on the internet.

Shortly after Justin started using his webcam online, he was approached online by "a friend" and offered fifty dollars if he would take off his shirt. What 13-year-old would turn down an offer like that? He wasn't doing anything wrong. Being a kid, he took off his shirt. The seduction started. Within a short time, he was removing all of his clothes in his bedroom in front his webcam. Maybe by this time, he was starting to wonder but the money and the gifts were nice additions to his world. Nobody had to know. He wasn't doing anything wrong. Right? He knew these guys. They were his "friends" after all. Justin's mother had no idea what was going on behind the closed doors of her son's bedroom.

Justin was a good kid. He lived in a nice, safe neighborhood. He was an honor student and class president. He ran a small internet business creating websites for other people.

A few years later, a classmate found Justin's website and threatened to expose Justin. Because he didn't want his mother to find out, Justin decided to move to Mexico to live with his father. His parents were divorced.

Justin told his father about his internet porn business. His father asked how he could help. Justin told his father that he needed some girls to participate in the camweb videos. His father went out and found the girls. Justin's business escalated to a new depth. His clientelle grew to 1500 strong.

Justin started using drugs. Things were getting out of control. Then Justin met a man who changed his life. Kurt Eichenwald is an investigative reporter working for The New York Times. Kurt was working on an article on fraud when he found Justin's site. With Kurt's help, Justin has become a witness in an FBI investigation into Online Child Pornography. Justin has been in hiding because of death threats made against him. Kurt's article was published on the front page of The New York Times on December 19, 2005.

Some of Justin's online clients were pediatricians, lawyers working with children, counselors, and teachers. These people are in contact with kids every day. They are likable and pay attention to our kids when we may be too busy to listen to what is going on in their lives.

Justin was offered a book deal if he would not go on The Oprah Show. He turned it down. He wanted to tell people about what is going on in their children's bedrooms. Justin said that he wants to help protect other children and keep them away from the kind of life that he lead.

Why did I write this article? Because some of you might not have seen the show. Unless this is your first time to visit my blog, you know that my childhood was filled with incest. This article is another step in spreading awareness of what is going on in our world.

If your child has a computer and a webcam in their bedrooms, get them out now. Talk to your children. Be involved in their lives. Know their friends. Read my next article about this topic when it comes out.
Patricia

4 comments:

Irene | Light Beckons said...

Hi Patricia,

I hadn't seen that episode on Oprah, so thank you for sharing this. I am going to talk to my daughters about this! I think it was brave of Justin to do this so openly. Glad he's chosen to turn his life around - he's only 19 and has a long way to go.

Patricia Singleton said...

Irene, yours is the kind of response that I hoped to get from writing this article. You can do a Search for "Seduced in Cyberspace: The Boy Next Door" and pull up the entire transcript from The Oprah Winfrey Show if you want more information.

Deb Estep said...

Hey Patricia,

I have children who are 29, 26, 24 and 12.

The older ones I parented with different 'dangers'.

It's a good thing that you point out the dangers of online for today's children.

xo xo
Debs-E

Patricia Singleton said...

Deb, I hate that parents today have to be aware of so much more than we were as parents.