What I Wish I’d Known As A Child About Rape, Self-Harm, Pornography, And How To Be A Better Friend

Every week I plan ahead what I want to do for the upcoming week’s free download (which is available on the HOME page, about halfway down) and last week I knew that I wanted it to be related to the I Spy Racial Awareness activities, but didn’t really put more thought into it than making a note on the calendar. But when today rolled around, there was no doubt that it was time to bring back the “I Spy Racial Awareness In My Friends” again.

Why that one in particular?

I’m glad you asked. It’s kind of a whirlwind of thoughts that may not mingle, but here goes nothing.

Our children miss their friends. They miss their classrooms, teachers, playgroups, sports teams, and more. I miss those things too! We all do! But more than that, they are really missing out on safe places. A good friend of mine wrote a really enlightening article on her blog about how we can’t put all of our emotional needs on one person. My husband shouldn’t be expected to be the bearer of all my stories, gossip, insecurities, hobbies, hair-brained schemes, business partner, shoulder to cry on, secretary, psychologist, pep talker, book club and everything else all the time. Of course, he does all of that, but if he’s the singular person on the planet I can take all of that too, then he’s going to get exhausted. It’s like that in every relationship. It’s why being a parent is so exhausting at times. We are all of that for our children until they can find another safe person to let some of it out with. Their friends are some of their strongest early exposure to different cultures of thought, music, religion, etc. Without the presence of friends and teachers, where are our kids finding some of those emotional outlets? Probably not in good places. *ahem, Snapchat, Twitter, TikTok, ahem*

And here’s where I kind of derail into what we should really be talking about because why should I need a smooth transition and clear connection to scream about the injustices of allowing pedophiles and sex traffickers to thrive on the internet where our kids hang out?! This whole situation we’re in right now being home with these unmonitored apps for entertainment and “social engagement” is extremely dangerous for a child’s mental and emotional health in loving and good home environments, let alone the homes of children who are left alone all day with nothing to eat, who are abused, who are sexually exploited because there is no longer a safe place for them to find sanctuary through the day.

Just some quick facts about child and human sex trafficking:

  • It is a $150 billion enterprise
  • 30 million people are estimated to be enslaved to this monster
  • 2 million child sex slaves are sold and enslaved
  • An underaged person on social media is GUARANTEED to be seen by pedophiles, asked for nudes, sent unwanted nudes, and possibly have pictures taken from their accounts without permission to be shared in perverted groups of nasty grown psychopaths.

A ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY BILLION DOLLAR ENTERPRISE?! To put this into perspective, here’s an awesome way I just came across to help wrap your head around that number by Paul Franz on Twitter:

That’s absolutely preposterous.

Don’t let your kids have smart phones.

Smart phones don’t just give your kids access to the world. It gives the world access to them as well.

So, let’s talk about this and get real not just among adults, but with our kids! They need to be a part of the conversation! For the next 24 hours (ish), from now until July 29th at 8:00 pm, the I Spy Racial Awareness In My Friends will be available on my HOME page for free as a download!

The updated version included in this free download has the characters from my recent The World is Better Because You Are In It poster. Hit all the hard topics of race and exploitation with the I Spy Racial Awareness characters this week!

It’s not a perfect way to address the issue, or even a great one, but for now it’s something I can offer. I hope that you talk about what all your friends are going through right now. Talk about how beautiful all your different backgrounds are. Brainstorm how to help those that you believe might be struggling. But mostly, talk about the last question recommended with a little tweak and use the characters provided to roll play what you would do. It’s never too early to start these conversations:

“What should you do if you think your friend is being abused/hurt at home? What can we say? Who can we go to for help?”

I wish I would have had someone walk me through that question 1000 times more as kid. I don’t think I could have been drilled with it enough. And I want to add that being “hurt at home” in this context includes both by family members and by unsupervised social media use. I’m sure you all have experiences of your own if you’ve made it this far, but I wish I had known what to do in elementary school, when a rumor went around that (I believe turned out to be true) a girl was struggling with bulimia because she had it in her head that she needed to look a certain way in her gymnastics leotard.

Or when I don’t think I was even 14 or 15 years old and one of my good friends told me he struggled with anorexia. He was a chubby kid and felt like he couldn’t live up to anyone’s standards unless he looked a certain way. He wanted to be an athlete – he was great at baseball – and *here’s the kicker* he felt like he just didn’t look like the kind of guy girls went after in the movies and shows we watched. He told me this after going to his parents and starting to get help. That was before either of us had social media. Can you imagine the impact instagram has on kids now?!

Especially when I was 17, and my friend took me to Sonic so that she could break down and tell me she had been raped. It was someone she knew. She asked me not to tell anyone. My biggest regret in my entire life is agreeing to not tell anyone. I just had no idea what to do. I thought that if I just made sure that she knew I thought she was still worthy of all the same love and friendship we’d had before, then that was going to be my role to play. But I look back and think that I would have rather risked our friendship then than let her suffer the way she must have.

And again when I was in college, and had a crush on this guy. He seemed like the whole package at first. But I started to notice red flags, and he eventually shared that he had an addiction to pornography since he was like 16 years old. SIXTEEN. And I wanted nothing more than to support him as he was trying to quit, but still had no clue how.

These examples are as far as 15 years old. This issue isn’t new, but it is worse for kids today. Porn, social media, pedophiles and perverts all mingling with undeveloped prefrontal cortexes (a term of endearment for teens and young adults) is unacceptable! I can only pull up these few experiences off the top of my head, but I wonder if we asked kids today how many things they could tell us. So please, protect your kids. And teach them how to bring their friends into your protection as well.

What should parents do right now? Where are the answers to these hard questions?

  1. Have the conversation mentioned above with your kids. And then have it again. And again, and again.
  2. Delete your kids’ (under 18) social media accounts.
  3. If you, the adult, are on social media, follow @ourrescue, @collinkartchner, @malouffoundation, @fightthenewdrug
  4. Take the OnWatch training at https://malouffoundation.org/onwatch/training/
  5. OR do the training offered by Operation Underground Railroad https://ourrescue.org/training?training_complete=7187311&fbclid=IwAR2YOy4qlJt6H1yXhMNdMzzmWLdJcSBrHhmLoNFSBz_mZSEkN6C_JXMFy38
  6. If your heart can take any more, watch Blake Lively bring attention to it too. As a parent, I really appreciated her speaking up and getting involved, and for whatever reason, felt more connected to her https://fightthenewdrug.org/blake-lively-speech-against-child-exploitation/

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