Child Abuse. Every time it happens we express shock and outrage or we bow our heads and mumble. Neither are effective solutions for the powerlessness we feel.
The outraged campaign and raise money to track down the perpetrators.
For the bowed heads, it’s yet another reason to lock up children and ensure they live a fear filled life.
Many of these children go on to live the half-life provided by social media. But far from being safe in their own homes, they can now fall victim to a far greater evil.
I am in Canada, a place where cyber abuse is in the spotlight with the tragic suicide of Amanda Todd. At 14 years old, Amanda was a lonely girl struggling (like all children) with how to make the transition from child to adult.
We’ve all been there. We can look back at diaries or photographs that reveal our lack of discernment in the choices we made about what was appropriate behavior. Our reaction to these is either cringe making shame or compassion – after all we were little more than children at the time.
Social media turns this simple rite of passage into a whole new ball game with very, very high stakes.
Amanda was easy prey for a 32 year old man posing as a teenager. This man built her up, calling her “beautiful and stunning”. To any teenage girl with low self-esteem (that could very easily be 95% of all teenagers) these adjectives are like manna from heaven. Which means they’re also like heroin. (Welcome to the world of duality).
When the adjectives dried up, it took very little persuasion for her to agree to take her top off and send the required picture to her ‘special friend’.
Of course this special friend was a sick adult misogynist who purposely lured her into this trap in order to “bring her down.”
The rest is history… he circulated her naked breasts across the net. He posted it to child porn sites. Her life turned into a downward spiral of ridicule, alienation, self-loathing and cutting.
One inappropriate choice. A lifetime of consequence so abhorrent that she chose to end her life rather than endure it a moment further.
And the consequences for this evil man? Well, he hasn’t actually broken any laws so hasn’t even been charged yet. Er hello? Then make some new frickin’ laws. How many youngsters does this have to happen to? Or whose youngster does it have to happen to before we come up with a better solution?
Everything is about power.
There is not one thing we do, say, wear, buy that does not have a component of power. At the root of everything, we’re either trying to get more power or we’re trying to abdicate power…
If I wear a DKNY suit, suck up to the Boss, drive a Ferrari or work really hard, will I get more power and control over my life?
If I act helpless, look like a cast member of Les Mis, tell my sad story or buy lottery tickets will someone take care of me? (Whether that’s Prince Charming, Lady Luck or Social Security.)
This is OBVIOUS. So what do we teach in schools? Oh, average rainfall in Patagonia, the American civil war, Spanish, Calculus…
Children are now so left-brained that they don’t even know how to trust their feelings. Yet their feelings are their inner GPS that will enable them to navigate to anywhere they want to go – safely.
Feelings are the “early warning” device that alerts us to something being “not quite right”. If this isn’t in place, it’s easy to adapt to the new reality, then slowly the boundary is moved until suddenly the enemy is at the door and it’s game over.
It’s like the frog and the boiling water. Put a frog in boiling water and he’ll scream or jump right out. Put a frog in warm water and slowly turn up the temperature and he can get cooked before he’s even aware of the danger.
The internet is not just a tool, it’s a powerful tool. Yet, we’ve thrown it into the classroom and the home as if it’s a more sophisticated version of a text book. A state of the art communication device, like the ultimate telephone upgrade.
It’s more than that. It has the power to change the world for the better, and the power to change the world for the worse. In this way it’s more like a nuclear device.
Would anyone seriously consider giving one of those to children without the necessary instruction?
Anyone who has met or seen photographs of Jimmy Savile will say there was “something very creepy” about him.
This is a FEELING so of course was dismissed as irrelevant in the face of the DATA that said he did good works and provided much needed resources for children, the sick and the disabled. Erm.. projection! Jimmy was clearly the sick one.
There will always be sick, evil people and now that we have the internet, these people can remain anonymous (like Amanda Todd’s persecutor) or hide “in plain sight” like Jimmy Savile.
Trying to control them is going to be pretty difficult and very costly. Charities to stop cyber bullying have sprung up everywhere, but even these have been subject to unscrupulous internet scams set up supposedly to raise money for the family – in actuality raising money for the pedophiles.
It’s not enough to “write the cheque to absolve the conscience.” That’s the logic of the mind. We need the courage provided by the intelligence of the heart.
It’s time to connect face to face and eye to eye – not screen to screen.
Time to teach children to understand, evaluate and trust their feelings… before they are handed the keys to the internet.
Time to ditch the slavish devotion to data and develop instinct and intuition.
Perhaps then more of our little frogs might be spared a fate worse than death.