Back in January of this year (01/26/18) I read an article by Brenda Yoder at brendayoder.com, entitled “Surrendering Our Children’s Souls.” The article is about the exposure of our children to predators on the internet. Today I’m sharing my sentiment reflected in her blog title.
Statistically, she begins, “About 80% of the kids said parents give them free internet reign on their phones and devices. This was a high school health class full of kids who couldn’t drive yet, whose emotional side of the brain is more active than the decision making side of their brain.”
What do you think about the possibility that most parents today are releasing too much internet access to their children based on parental peer pressure from other parents, family members, and friends?
Whereas we used to worry about children succumbing to peer pressure outside the home, it seems that parents of teenagers—apparently about 80% of them—are succumbing to adult peer pressure. Is this because of the fear of being slandered or shunned for not adhering to the world’s standard of political correctness in parenting? Do parents fear retaliation from their children? Please comment on your thoughts.
These are questions that I ask myself, now an empty-nester, concerning our 9 grandchildren ranging in age from 18 years old to 22 months old. Are parents susceptible to adult peer pressure? Emphatically yes! Both in positive ways and in negative ways.
Especially concerning to me is the abuse of power that authority figures outside the home are using, going against parents’ home rules.
If the norm is for parents to allow children to have exposure to the World Wide Web and its dangers, then perhaps some of the parents who’ve caved in are the victims of “[n]egative peer pressure leading you to behave in ways that contradict your true values.”
One of the recurring statements that I drilled into my children’s heads growing up was to always be true to themselves. Even in their dating lives I advised them to discern between who was a friend or acquaintance, and who was a potential boyfriend or girlfriend. Further, as they became sexually active I warned them that not every friend of the opposite sex was meant for them to bed down! Feelings of fondness, empathy, or admiration don’t equate to lifelong partnerships in love. I was always direct, realizing my accountability to God for the precious lives that he’s blessed me with. They, however, would say that I was strict. My strictness was to protect them.
When a parent becomes afraid to protect their child because of the negative scrutiny of the child or others, then that parent has succumbed to fear or peer pressure. Granted, parenting is not easy, but once that role is initiated, parental authority can never be conceded.
Parents should also be true to their children in enforcing their values. “If you’ve adopted values, beliefs, goals or hobbies based on what others in your peer group believe or do, you’ve experienced peer pressure, whether positive or negative.” The question then becomes, against what do you measure your truth as a parent? Yoder’s sentiment is strongly implied in the title of her blog. A Licensed Mental Health Counselor, she has also worked with victims of both domestic and sexual assault. Brenda’s counsel, like mine, is based in a Scriptural belief system. This is the place from which our values are derived.
If your foundation in parenting isn’t based on godly instructions then it’s a matter of time before you’ve succumbed to worldly peer pressure.
For me, morality comes from a higher power, God. That morality is buttressed by his Word, the Bible. I raised my children based on those principles. Having something to stand on, to believe in as my final authority regarding true values, is what strengthened me to resist adult peer pressure and political correctness in raising my children. Yoder lists:
- “There’s a correlation between kids who spend above average time on screens and higher reports of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and isolation.
- Social media is the primary place where traffickers connect with kids.
- The average age of kids to come across porn on a device is 9.
- Porn use among young adults is becoming normalized.
- Sex trafficking is the fastest growing crime in the small Midwestern city nearest to me.
- Nationally, it has overtaken drugs as the number one crime gangs are investing in. Kids can be used over and over again to make money, whereas drugs are just a one-time hit.”
I can attest that sex crimes involving “kids” is the topic far too often on my local news station, as well, here in Southwest Florida. For example, within the past week it was reported that a 15-year-old girl was beaten with a baseball bat by three, sex trafficking thugs in the backyard of where she was housed.
The clubbing was ordered by the gang leader of the ring. Her infraction? She was not doing a “good job” as a sex slave in serving the pedophiles who used her in exchange for payment to these degenerates. The girl’s body was beaten from her neck to her feet. Reports claimed that she was left with permanent indentation in her buttocks from the beating, among other injuries. Yet, when the investigator called her to press charges against those arrested, the girl was too afraid to admit to what had happened to her, neither would she verify the identity of those in custody.
Stories like these have their geneses in a distinct time when a parental decision was made—in error—that led to a child’s exposure to sexual deviants who will do anything for money, or for their own twisted, sexual satisfaction. We may never know that girl’s family history, her possible chat room or social media exposure, or how long she’d been a sex slave, but we do know:
“A $32 billion-a-year industry, human trafficking, is on the rise and is in all 50 states [and] 4.5 Million of trafficked persons are sexually exploited. Up to 300,000 Americans under 18 are lured into the commercial sex trade every year.” Lured.
Can we honestly and accurately say that someone hasn’t dropped the ball? Can we take a sobering look at how deficient parents have become in protecting children from being lured by online predators?
“We’re surrendering their childhood, mental health, and development that should be protected during the adolescent years by unrestricted technology use and disengaging from their lives.
We’re surrendering our kids to those who want to harm them. We send them into the virtual street so anyone can have access to them at any time.
We surrender their soul and expose their mental health when we minimize or ignore the impact of unrestricted technology on their social, emotional, mental, physical, spiritual and sexual health.”
Although it’s not comfortable for me to repeat, the sexual abuse that I suffered as a child was amid trusting adults who dropped the ball in parental responsibility. I suffered the abuse within a religious organization that was more like a cult than a church. Sadly, I am not the only one. As for me, I choose to use the memory of the pain and shame that I endured as my impetus to effect change. Not only did I survive, but I thrive—fully restored. I now live my life affirmed of who God says I am, victorious!
My life’s work was not destroyed by what happened, but my life’s work was defined by what happened. Sadly, I can’t say that this is the outcome for far too many of our children. Many are dead, missing, or both. This ignites my passion to prevent these types of travesties. These blog posts are not to be sensational, but to sound the alarm to the indifference of parents, extended family members, teachers, and friends.
My passion and my power is also to heal and inspire others with like experiences to live your life affirmed. LYLA! Social media followers, “likes,” and atta-girls have never been my focus, but if one person, if one parent defies peer pressure and political correctness, then my Blog succeeds—perhaps in saving a child’s life. At the least, in protecting their innocence.
Was adult peer pressure a factor in my abuse? Absolutely. Organized, reinforced pressure. Besides authority not being exercised in individual homes, there was no properly informed community watch in place to protect us—the children.
In Yoder’s words:
“Our kids need us. Parenting is not having the happy family Instagram photo.” She pleads, “I know it’s hard. It takes time. Kids don’t like it. I get it. Please. Don’t Surrender.”
What happened to me happened many years ago, before the internet. Today, with technology as it is, children’s exposure to perversion is a whole other animal. Children are being sexually exploited daily. This is not to forget inappropriate television and movies they are exposed to. I’ve shared just ONE heinous story. The sleepless nights that I have, because of what I am exposed to in researching, in order for others to be informed, is the sacrifice of my labor. My dream is to see children’s lives spared, making it well worth it. Nevertheless, as a collective we can do so much more.
If not parents, whose job is it to protect our children?! Who is the proverbial “they” that we fear? Why are their voices louder than those of 1/3 of a million children crying out from sex slavery?
Please don’t shy away from commenting or at least thinking this through. Visit the pages of the references cited. Join me in the community forum here. Spread the word. Inform yourselves and arm yourselves to resist the pressures of society that has become the hallmark for parents’ decision-making.
Parents, stop conceding authority to your children in their internet use. Stop allowing your children to watch inappropriate television and movies! If you consent to it by your actions, then you demonstrate that others on the internet—strangers who promote the same—are not so bad to consent to. Predators are professional groomers, why participate in the process of a child’s demise?
My humble thanks to Brenda Yoder for giving me permission to use her article in buttressing the content of this week’s blog.
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