Unpopular Opinion, The Kids Online Safety Act is Going to Harm More Kids than it Protects
|

Unpopular Opinion, The Kids Online Safety Act is Going to Harm More Kids than it Protects

I get it. The people who write these laws live in a world where kids all have a loving family who cares about them and want only to protect them from the evil that exists “out there.” They will provide whatever help and information their kids need, and there’s no need for them to navigate the wildness of the internet.  But we make information available to kids online because that’s not their reality. They don’t have supportive parents, they get kicked out for being gay, they are being abused at home, they are dealing with mental health issues their parents refuse to acknowledge, and they are often alone in trying to get help.

Those kids need an open internet.

Why I Took Part in the AFSP Virtual Overnight Event
|

Why I Took Part in the AFSP Virtual Overnight Event

It was the stories. It was all of those people doing this in memory of someone they lost. Or, like me, in memory of the fact that we are still here instead of leaving others to tell our stories. In our day to day lives, it’s too easy to forget how many people are impacted by suicide each and every year across the country, and the world. The further in time I get away from that time in my own life, the easier it can be to put it behind me and forget about it. But, that is something I never want to do. As painful as it is, I want to remember what it was like to no longer want to be alive. When someone is in that place, I want to be able to say, “I’ve been where you are”, to recall all of the details, and be able to sit and understand. Because that is how we save people. Not by talking in hushed tones about depression, or mental illness, but by sharing the stories of people who survived and healed, and of those we’ve lost.

Let’s face it, if you spend much time considering those losses, and listening to those stories, it is impossible to walk away without realizing that we have lost a devastating number of people to this disease. Many more than some of the diseases we all gladly talk openly about every day. Yet somehow, maybe because we don’t understand it, or are afraid of it, we keep silent. After all, it might make someone uncomfortable. Even I have, at times, kept the details to myself in fear of making other people uncomfortable, or risk having them worry about me. The more I read and heard these stories though, the more I realized that I needed to share my story, if only so that anyone who reads it would know, and maybe even understand a little bit, what it’s like to be so far down into the darkness of depression, that you don’t want to live any longer. So, with that said, let me share my experience with you, now that it’s been some 25 years, and maybe now people won’t worry so much about me. (Warning, this is about to get dark, and we will talk a bit about suicide, though I will keep those exact details out)

When it Comes to Abuse, Trafficking, and Violence, Do We Have a Race and Gender Problem?
|

When it Comes to Abuse, Trafficking, and Violence, Do We Have a Race and Gender Problem?

What I want to address, however, is how our society defines victims and how it leaves far too many people behind. The article above is a great example. How many people, if asked about sex trafficking, picture little white girls or women abducted from Target? Probably a lot. For many, the only information they’ve ever gotten about trafficking are warnings about Target or shopping mall parking lots from their Facebook friends. They don’t know how many teenage boys from broken homes, living in poverty, are pulled into being trafficked. How many gay youths, rejected by their families, fall victim to it? How many immigrant children here, with no parental supervision, are sold off by the people who should be protecting them from sexual slavery? 

Those stories, even if they’re told, are not going to grab national headlines. They are not going to evoke world-wide outrage and sympathy. Those are things that happen to “other people”. We might even be tempted to start looking for reason why it’s their own fault, or at least the parents fault, right? 

From a media perspective, we also have to keep this in mind. An abduction of a young white girl from her home, is a rare event. It’s actually newsworthy because it happens so rarely. When it happens, it’s shocking. A trans, minority, teen being coerced into selling themselves, with no one to turn to for protection, isn’t any of those things. A gay male teen being kicked out of their parents house and trying to make it through homelessness, is also not something that happens so rarely that there would be major news coverage of it. These things happen all of the time. So often, that they aren’t really news. 

So, which group should we have support and services for? I’d like to vote for ALL OF THEM. But that will take educating people about the reality of who gets abused, who gets trafficked, and for us all to accept that it happens everywhere. Until we get there, and are willing to see all different types of people as victims, we will continue to fail one group or another. That’s not acceptable. 

Child Abuse Advocacy Groups Caught up in Facebook QAnon Purge?
|

Child Abuse Advocacy Groups Caught up in Facebook QAnon Purge?

Am I sad that there are fewer child abuse advocacy groups on Facebook overall? Sure. But, what makes me sadder is how many legitimate advocacy groups fell massively short of their duty to tell the truth to their followers. How many continued to share these theories well after they were disproved in some bizarre effort to show how much more they cared about children, while diverting attention and resources from real victims and organizations trying to help them.

So no. I don’t feel sorry for you if your page was taken down by Facebook for violating their terms of service around spreading disinformation. You owed real survivors, and the people who followed you to learn more about true child abuse stories, more than that. You are right about one thing, child abuse and child trafficking is an incredibly important issue. Spreading lies doesn’t help that message, it provides the rest of the world an excuse to ignore it. If you truly want to advocate for children, stick to the truth, or suffer the consequences.

Still Here, 2020 Edition

Still Here, 2020 Edition

Recently, a friend on Facebook decided to ask us all to share one thing that happened this year that was a positive, to try and collect any and all good news in one place. It was a good idea, and as I thought about how I would respond to something like that, I thought of some of the good things that have happened this year. I’ve had some pretty nice successes at work. I’ve connected on a deeper level with my wife, and managed to stay connected to a close group of friends and family. Those were good things, but at the end of it all, I kept coming back to something I talked about at the end of 2019 on the Find Your Voice Podcast, and then again on this very blog on January 1 of 2020.

“I’m Still Here”