Stopping Internet porn

To hear my male peers tell it, when we were young one of them might stumble across — or somehow purloin (sometimes from a father’s stash) — the rare Playboy magazine.

And that would pretty much have to last the entire neighborhood of adolescent boys about a year, until the next one came along. That’s all they got until maybe they saw a pornographic movie in their fraternity basement.

And along the way it was pretty clear they were doing something secret, unusual, out of the norm. Not okay.

They probably weren’t thinking their girlfriends or future wives ought to be held to that standard.

Flash forward a few decades.

I have four young kids, a boy and three girls in that order, and I am sickened by what radio talk show host Laura Ingraham rightly calls, “the pornification of the culture.” Every time I drive on the highways outside Chicago and see the huge billboards advertising “gentleman’s clubs” and sex “hot lines” with the requisite angry looking, barely dressed women, I shudder.

As I’ve been forced to tell my kids, “no ‘gentleman’ goes to such places.”

I was on-line the other night, checking out the Boston Red Sox website looking for baseball statistics (seriously.) And what flashes up at me on the top of the page?

Despite my internet filters, someone or something was able to break onto the Sox page, and I was shown naked rear ends telling me what was “available” to me in my town — which it correctly identified.

(Forget it, fellas. You won’t necessarily be able to find the same ad. Of course, you’ll find similar ones all over the internet. Sigh.)

This stuff is ubiquitous. It has destroyed marriages, and degraded women and what should be the beauty of marital sex.

But my biggest concern is that it’s tragically attacked the innocence of children, both overtly and covertly.

Please don’t tell me that as a parent, I can “control” what my kids see. No, I can’t.

From the paved highway to the Internet superhighway, which makes it easy for children to access or come across on-line pornography, it’s absolutely everywhere. By at least one estimate, Internet porn is viewed most by kids aged 12-17.

What to do? The fate of Internet gambling may provide a clue.

On-line gambling is illegal in the U.S, but that’s hard to enforce.

So senator Jon Kyl of Arizona authored legislation last year to give the Federal Treasury the power to regulate U.S. banks (read: credit card companies) preventing them from allowing their cards to be used for internet gambling. The rules have not yet been finalized and already “good citizen” major banks are voluntarily refusing to process such transactions.

But people familiar with the banking industry told me there seems to be little pressure for banks to be truly vigilant about refusing transactions for Internet websites that make it easy or relatively easy for kids to view on-line porn — which is, well, most pornographic websites.

And don’t forget the purveyors who shoot the stuff in on “pop-ups” which can’t always be blocked, as in my Red Sox experience. (True hardcore child pornography, which is of course illegal, is often circulated for “free.”)

But Washington probably won’t be as successful in attempting to regulate even just child access to porn, because of fears of charges of “censorship.”

That leaves it up to us.

The very same national banks which tell us they want to build our homes, help us provide for our families, and feature all the smiling kids in their ads are one key mechanism by which a destructive Internet porn industry, which targets kids in so many ways, can flourish.

What would it take to get Bank of America, or Chase, or Wachovia, to publicly declare that they will honor and help protect families by beginning or greatly intensifying their efforts to deny transactions for internet porn sites which in any way use kids, or which make it possible for kids to view pornography?

No, this won’t end on-line pornography, which exploits kids. But if we want to know who the family friendly financial institutions really are, we need to start following the money.

(Betsy Hart is the author of the forthcoming “It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting Our Kids — and What to Do About It.” E-mail her at letterstohart(at)


  1. jarrodlombardo

    “Please don’t tell me that as a parent, I can ‘control’ what my kids see. No, I can’t.”
    You can’t control what they see, therefore it is your duty as a parent to educate them about the sorts of things they might see and how to handle them.

    The porn industry drives much (most?) of internet technology development, so it’s very unlikely to go away until the internet is obsolete, but by then, the porn industry will be driving the development of the next method of information proliferation (similar to how it drove printing, video, and DVD technologies). As long as human sexuality is repressed societally, there will be a demand for pornography. Let’s teach our children not to be ashamed and the problem will go away.


  2. SEAL

    In my Nation sex is the same as eating, drinking alchohol, driving a car, riding a horse, working, and so on. It is part of life and you must be educated about it just as you must about all the other things you do in life. Sex has responsibilities just like driving a car does. Nudity is commonplace. Go to the river, you will see naked bodies, you will look at them, and they will look at you. If someone has an erection, no one is embarassed or makes fun of it. No male in my Nation has ever raped anyone. Everyone exercises birth control with respect to the earth’s needs. They have for centuries.

    I believe our teenagers engage in less sex than the invaders children but there is no way to know for sure. The difference is that they don’t have to hide to do it. The parents know. They also know their kids are being responsible about how they do it and, more important, why they do it with that person at that time. I have heard mothers tell daughters not to get involved with a certain young brave and why. They are obeyed. No male “child” would ever think of having sex until they become a brave. That is 12-14 years of age.

    Three of us snuck into the burlesque tent when the carnival came to town and could not understand why the white men were hooting and clapping at a woman taking most of her clothes off. They really went nuts at the end when she showed her breasts. That was when my father explained the difference between our cultures with regard to sex. At the time I thought the invaders were being stupid and I still do.

    Nudity was commomplace in our home and our children walked in on us as children will do. But they are the most sexually well adjusted adults you can find. When our kids saw a porno for the first time they thought it was a sex cartoon. Sex is a problem or dirty or should be hidden only if you make it so. If you don’t there will be very little pornography. The christians are responsible for pornography being such a large industry in America.

  3. pondering_it_all

    If you are concerned about your children using their or your computer to access porn, all you have to do is make sure they understand your feelings about that AND the fact that such activities leave image files and URL traces all over the hard drive.

    Children are usually very good at avoiding things their parents say are disgusting, when they know there is a high probability of being caught.