Yikes: Kids Forever Branded Perverts

One of the scary things about the social Web is how much exposure its users bring to their everyday lives and innermost thoughts. But think about the impact of mixing exposure – to public view or just to law enforcement – with impulsive, unthinking adolescent behavior that involves sexual exploration with peers. For example, in the state of Washington alone, “since 1997, more than 3,500 children in the state – some as young as 10, though on average about 14 – have been charged and convicted as felony sex offenders, a mark that remains on their records forever, barring them from careers in medicine, teaching or a host of other professions that serve the vulnerable,” the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. A 13-year-old (now 23) whose story led the article was arrested at home by himself and handcuffed to a plastic chair while his mother was called and told her “pervert son was going to jail.”

NetFamilyNews

Okay, so I giggled a bit (inappropriately so) when titling this blog post.  Regardless of my poor sense of humor – this is yet ANOTHER reason why it is SO FREAKIN’ IMPORTANT to teach your children that the web is a serious place.

I’ve already complained about the severity of youthful decisions before – mainly with youtube & online journals and how they affect your reputation at the office (and beyond).

This reminds me of that old saying, “Money doesn’t grow on trees.”  My dearest poppa & momma used to remind me (in my early twenties) that the easy magic of credit card purchases does not erase the need for actual payment.  There is not a GIANT invisible chalk board eraser that wipes away what you just did.  And the same goes for web-actions.

The web = invisible cement.  Whatever you do – it’s there… crusty and solid, just not necessarily obvious or visible to you or those around you.  But TRUST… it’s there.

So, although sexual crimes are a HUGE issue… tween sexual exploration isn’t going to stop any time soon just because there’s a higher level of getting caught in the net.  Nature is freaky, and even freakier = teaching kids cause and effects, actions and reactions. 

Invisible cement people.  Invisible cement.

So what happens in the clean up efforts?  Education.  Parents, KIDS, Peers, Teachers, Aunties, Uncles, Neighbors, Godparents, Principals – everyone should start these conversation about “You and Your Rep in the Online World.”  Sounds so dry and so suckish… but VERY necessary.  If YOU don’t start talking about it, who will? 

Go home.  Teach your family how to protect themselves like Clark Kent & Superman.  Explain the web’s notorious invisible cement.  Money, Trees, and the lack of giant invisible erasers.  Speak about Megan Meier (google her if you don’t know who that is), or about this kid labeled a PERV.  Talk about the girls from Florida in that HORRIBLE Youtube fight.  Speak about Vanessa Hutchenson and her forwarded pictures and the horrible fall out, and the embarrassment it caused her and her family. 

But more than anything…. TALK.  I don’t care if you have a family of your own or not.  Talk to your friends over drinks.  Get discussion rolling.  Everyone will benefit.  Trust.

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