Editorial: Protecting Children Should Be Agenda Priority
The following Editorial is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent those of Hunters Bay Radio:
While debating political issues with fervor online, in person and in our own minds, society has seemingly forgotten a constant threat to the largest set of vulnerable people in our world: our children.
This threat goes well beyond the political aisle and it definitely doesn’t care about colour, creed, nationality or religion: the threat is the sexualization, abuse and trafficking of children throughout the world.
And when I say world, I mean world. It happens in every nation, in every city, in every town – and we usually don’t find out until it’s too late for the victims.
Kidnappings, slavery, abuse and yes, even child pornography is an everyday occurrence that demands more attention that it is given. Oh, I know, people are outraged when finding out about specific cases; however, sooner than later everyone is back to arguing over mask and vaccines and taxes and gun control and whatever else triggers them.
What should really trigger everyone with any human decency is the abhorrent exploitation of children. This issue came into full effect when outrage at a recent Netflix film became newsworthy. Unfortunately, the outrage didn’t last for many news cycles.
When the uproar began about the Netflix documentary entitled Cuties, I was at first a little bit skeptical. Seeing as there seems to be an uproar about absolutely everything these days.
Then I saw the marketing of the film: scantily clad little girls in poses that should be left for adults in bedrooms and VIP rooms. Well, the skepticism was quickly replaced by confused and angry thoughts: “WTF?” and “Really?!” were only a couple.
I began to think about my reaction if my eight-year-old daughter (not much younger than the girls in the film) were to be sexually exploited to promote a film. Well, first off, we wouldn’t let that happen. Secondly, even the thought should never have crossed the promoters’ minds. Netflix should never have let that happen.
I can’t comment fully on the content as I refuse to watch the film. However, there seems to be some who say the film is a commentary on what’s going on in the world today. It’s trying to open eyes. If that’s the case, then the thought behind the film is valid and even commendable.
And according to people who have seen it, there are no sex scenes or nudity. Those who think that makes it okay are missing the point. From what I’m told, there are several scenes where these children are dancing seductively in tight clothing with close-up shots of certain “moves.” Well, if that isn’t the sexualization of a minor, I don’t know what is.
The pedophiles of the world will still be quite happy to tune in, with or without any sex scenes or nudity.
Was there really a need to hyper sexualize schoolgirls to get the point across? Couldn’t it have been done through heartfelt conversations with the children about their feelings and struggles in a world where almost everything has a sub context of sexuality and body image?
Could they not have discussed how boys their age – many of whom are watching videos which are way above their maturity level – speak and treat the girls?
Would we not have gotten the point? I’ve watched real stories from real people about the tragedies in their lives and never have I needed a graphic display to get the picture or feel their emotions.
But Cuties is just the tip of the iceberg and it’s no where near to being the biggest threat to children in terms of exploitation. Want to see what the really disturbing threats our children face? When you’re done reading this column, type into your search engine (Google for most): child pornography arrests Canada 2020.
Again, even those news briefs don’t tell the full story. The predators are everywhere, and they need to be stopped.
According to the anti-trafficking website https://traffickingfund.charity.org/, there are an estimated 40.3 million victims of human trafficking globally with 4.8 million trapped in forced sexual exploitation with women and girls accounting for 99 per cent of sex trafficking. While in Canada, reported numbers tend to hover in the thousands.
And this doesn’t even start to take into account the vast number of children who are abused by family or friends in their own homes or other places they thought were safe.
No matter what statistics exist at this point, the truth is even ONE child is too much.
So, how can we curb this issue and better protect our children. Since it will be difficult to find and castrate all the paedophiles in the world (well, it may not be that hard in the internet age), it’s up to us in our homes and in our communities to arm our children with the mental and emotional tools to protect themselves.
Parents need to be involved. Speak to your children, keep the lines of communication open. Be there for support and teach them how to be safe. Here is a site geared towards protecting our children: https://www.radkids.org/ … Knowledge and empowerment go a long way to being safe.
For Canada-based facts, visit: https://www.canadiancentretoendhumantrafficking.ca/
It has a ton of information on Canada specific items, including research papers and reports and a section for parents. Just remember, police data can only be based on what is reported and known to them. There are many, many more victims who are still being abused and unknown to authorities.
Speaking of reports, it’s time our friends in the media started keeping exploitation of children in the news cycle a little bit longer. And when covering these stories, always make sure to use the word “child” when describing the victims – no matter whether they’re 7 or 17.
Too many instances occur where a teenage victim of sexual abuse, exploitation or trafficking is referred to as an “underage girl.” Look no further than the coverage of Jeffrey Epstein and his cabal of child abusers. Even when discussing a victim who was 14 at the time of her “recruitment” into sexual slavery at the hands of Epstein and his crew, many media outlets referred to her as an “underage girl.” Uhm, no, she was a child and the rest of those girls who were under-18 at the time of their exploitation were also children.
Calling it what it is – in this case child trafficking and slavery – doesn’t gloss it over and keeps it real in the minds of the masses.
It’s also time for tougher laws. So many amazing police officers and investigators put in long hours tracking down child pornography rings, human trafficking rings and other criminals. They see atrocities beyond belief and want to see these animals pay for their crimes.
However, when it comes to our court system, the penalties and punishments are so miniscule, it’s no wonder the problem is so widespread and has crept into every level of society.
It’s time for mandatory sentencing for pedophiles and child traffickers. There is a petition on change.org based in California (https://www.change.org/p/ro-khanna-mandatory-sentencing-for-pedophiles-child-traffickers) that outlines a lot harsher punishments than exist today in Canada.
I know the voting public would get behind mandatory sentences to keep these predators off the streets. And there are many who may even believe these too are light punishments (such as only 20 years for every instance an offender produces child pornography), but it’s a good starting point and better than what exists.
For comparison, according to Canadian legislation, making child pornography has two types of sentences. They are, “(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or (b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years less a day and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months.”
Yeah, I guess us Canadians haven’t really been paying attention because no one I know would think this is acceptable.
Now is the time to demand more focus on protecting children from our elected officials in every town, city, province, state and nation around the world.
This is not a political issue to be debated on by partisan politicians trying to gain favour with their electorate. This is not the time to worry about different sides of the political aisle.
There are only two sides to this: the right side and the wrong side. Make sure your elected officials are on the right side.
And if you find out that your municipal, provincial and federal politicians aren’t ready to fight for our children’s safety, then they’re not ready to lead and don’t deserve to have their seats.
By Chris Occhiuzzi, special to HuntersBayRadio.com
When Chris isn’t writing stories for HuntersBayRadio.com, Dockside Publishing or running MuskokaUnlimited.com, you can find him volunteering his time as a coach and board member for the Huntsville Soccer Club.