I rarely post anything terribly controversial on my blog. An occasional pitch for a political candidate (Go Gilbert!! :)) is typically as "contro" as it gets here. Those who know me well know that confrontation gives me hives. I almost had a panic attack the other night trying to write a book review for a book with which I disagreed. (Eek!)
But there are times when God shoves me out of my comfort zone and I know I am not going to have a moment's peace until I post. This is one of those times. Last night I posted sermon notes from yesterday morning's sermon on I Samuel 17 and said, "I can't wait to see what God's 'next step' is..." I certainly wasn't expecting this, but this is very definitely "a mountain worth fighting for". And as huge as the giant of child exploitation (and the horrific things to which it leads) is in our nation and our world, it *is* just a giant. And the battle *is* the Lord's (but it is definitely time for more of us to come out of hiding in our mountain and start fighting it...)
This morning, Tom Davis posted a link on Facebook to his recent blog post "The Exploitation of Children in our Culture". His post opens with the fact that the video about which he is blogging made him sick to his stomach. It made me sick to my stomach, too, and it's been very heavy on my heart all day.
For those who aren't familiar with Tom Davis, he is the director of Children's HopeChest, an international ministry to orphans, and the author of the based-on-true-experience novels, Scared and Priceless. I haven't read Priceless yet...it just came out...but Scared had a tremendous impact on me. It is an excellent novel, but very definitely *not* easy reading, particularly when you realize that Tom wrote the book using his real-life experiences in Africa. Because of his experiences with orphans around the world, he has become very aware of the all-too-prevalent evils of child trafficking and exploitation.
I've really struggled with posting this link. On the one hand, it is disturbing. It is not something I would want a child or teenager to watch (I did not post the link on my Facebook page for that reason.) It really isn't something I would want anyone to watch...that is part of the whole point. On the other hand, it is disturbing. And we need to be disturbed. We need to be aware that not only is this type of thing going on in our culture, but that it is seen as totally *normal* and *okay* by many. We need to realize that this is *not* okay, that it is, in fact, DANGEROUS...for our children, for our families, and for society as a whole. And we need to *pray*, and then to *act*, as the Lord leads us, to protect our children...all children...from this type of exploitation and the dangers it leads to.
So...I'm not posting the actual video here. I am posting the link to Tom Davis's post (which contains the video and his comments about it.) I am also posting the link to the Good Morning America interview with a couple of the parents. (If you watch GMA, you may have already seen it.) It is almost more disturbing to me than the actual video because of the attitudes involved.
Tom Davis Blog Post
Good Morning America Interview
(Note about the videos: The video on the Tom Davis blog post is the full-length video of the girls' "performance". The GMA video shows clips that will give you a pretty good idea without subjecting you to the whole thing. My recommendation would be to read what Tom Davis wrote about the video, but skip the actual performance video and watch the GMA video instead. It is disturbing enough.)
There is so much that is disturbing about the two videos that I can't even begin to address it all here. But here are a few thoughts (there may be more later...)
First, stop and think about the ages of these girls. One article I read called them "pre-teen". Really? I suppose by the most literal definition (in which any child from birth to 12 is a pre-teen) they are pre-teens, but otherwise? No. A pre-teen is an 11 or 12 year old. These girls were much younger than that. (Most of what I read indicated they were 7. The GMA interview indicates that at least two of the girls were 8 or 9. Still *not* what I would classify as pre-teens.) Seven is *less* than a year older than our Ammah Grace. These are *little* girls.
Second, this is *not* normal. And the fact that there are many in our society see nothing wrong with it is a frightening indicator of the state of our culture. Child p*rnography and child sexu*l abuse are rampant in our society. And *anything* that sexu*lizes children, in any way, is contributing to those horrors. Actually, the fact that this "performance" is seen as "normal", or as "art", makes it all the more dangerous. Many who would never look at anything billed as "p*rnography" will be drawn in by this type of thing because it's "okay".
Anything that blurs the lines in that way, anything that normalizes, in any way, the sex*alization of children, is dangerous. It leads to a slippery slope of "soft p*rn" leading to "harder" stuff, which can, and often does, lead to personal contact and actual m*lestation. My research in this area over the years, plus personal experience in the child protection field during my "career days" have corroborated that.
(I'm not at this point even touching on the impact that this has on the girls involved themselves. Maybe in a later post.)
I realize that for many this is hard reading. It may make some angry. I hope that it genuinely disturbs many. Most of all, I hope that it leaves no one apathetic. This is *not* something that only affects people "out there." It affects people right here, where we are. I've mentioned before that Billy and I both have a professional background in the child protective services field. Over 15 years ago, when I was working for DHS/DCFS, I worked with girls 12 and under who were pr*stituting in the middle of our small (population @ 75,000) southern city in the middle of the Bible belt.
Child p*rnography is not "out there." Child m*lestation is not "out there." Child pr*stitution is not "out there." It is right here. I know for a fact that it is here. I have seen it. I have stared it in the face. Not once, but many times. And I can almost guarantee that wherever you live, it is there as well. This is a mountain that needs to be taken. Satan delights in destroying children and families through these "issues" that many of us choose to hide our heads and not see. He delights in making the s*xualization of children seem "normal" and "artistic" and "talented". And he delights even more when we stand by and let it happen without a word.
I have labeled this post "Protecting Children, Part 1". I'm not sure how many posts there will be on this topic, and I'm not sure what "Part 2" will contain, but I know this: this will not be the last post here on this subject. This has been one of the hardest, if not THE hardest, posts I've ever written...but these things must be said. This topic is very, very dear to my heart. Children are precious to God. We say children are precious to us. If we really mean that, we must show that...live that...in every aspect of our lives.
Protecting Children, Part 2
Protecting Children, Part 3