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10 July 2003, 05:30

Things are different from when I was a young kid. Well, I think they are different. I’m watching “48 Hours” on the tube, and they are doing something on children modeling internet web sites. Kids and parents who think that the internet is the gateway to some fantastic modeling or movie career.

These kids model outfits, swimsuits, lingerie in pictures on pay web sites for members to view or buy. CDs, DVDs and such of these children are made available for a price. I think the whole thing is pretty dubious and smacks of something seedy.

But what I don’t understand, or really, maybe I do is the willful blindness that the parents interviewed displayed when asked about what they think their children are doing. When confronted with the question of whether they knew that middle aged men were looking at their daughter, the mother said, “It’s no different than if she’s walking down the street and they are looking at her.”

Fair enough.

But the next part of the interview floored me:

Reporter: “So, you might as well make some money at it.”

Mother: “Well, no, I wouldn’t put it that way. I would never exploit my child like that.”

She went on to say something to the effect that she was just promoting the beauty of her child. Talk about self denial. It’s a massive rationalization of exploitation of her child. You would think that anything like that would just outrage any parent. You would think. But interview after interview, the parents either said they feel its helping their children into some future career, or that they are just promoting their child and their child’s beauty. What makes it easy for these parents to delude themselves into thinking that this is not exploitation is the money. Plain and simple. One 11 year old made $450 a week. One site made upwards of $50,000 a year.

Although some of this is quite dubious, and sleazy, not all of it is illegal. And its part of the oldest profession in the world. It’s selling sex. It’s not the old fashion, shop on the street corner, ten bucks for 15 minutes kind of sex, but its selling sex and sexual fantasy just the same. Younger and younger children with less of an understanding of just what modeling on the internet really means, and what it will really lead to, are seeing this as just a stepping stone to a career, with parents turning a blind eye to the realities of this sort of path they have put their children on. They are in major denial about the sort of people viewing their children and what sort of people these are. They feel protected by the false “anonymity” provided by the internet. This is the most dangerous thing that could happen, these parents are so deep in delusion, denying the real dangers and real exploitation they are placing their children in. At least if they said, “Hey yeah, we are at least making money from the sickos,” that would tell me they are in touch with reality.

But they don’t.

It’s a warped view of success that is infected these people, and probably many others. That the pinnacle of success is having tons of money or being a movie star or supermodel. I understand the hope and dream of parents wanting their children to have riches and happiness, but people have a vision of success that is the reflected image of an imaginary ideal. Beauty and money are not the ingredients for a successful and happy life. They are under the assumption that the most important thing they can do for their child is get them famous, or fill their bank accounts with money. Nevermind the fact they are reinforcing the idea that the most valuable thing these children have to offer is their looks or their sexual appeal to pedophiles, they are telling their children that their dignity, and safety are for sale if the money is right.

Yes I said pedophiles. I don’t think very many of the exploitation site’s members are other teenage girls or anybody from the Ford Modeling agency in New York. How do I know this? Well, they asked the webmaster photographer of one of these sites about the profile who are members, and 50 year old single men were not uncommon. Parents are just blind to the fact they are pimping their children on the internet for pedophiles. A better question to ask the parents is what makes them think if pedophiles, who cannot resist their sexual urges even at the threat of the law and society, will resist the urge to attempt to get closer to the object of their sexual desire.

I don’t understand why, all of a sudden, that working hard for a living, and just being a successful human being are not hallmarks for a good, well lived life. Sexual beauty and easy money I guess have replaced the old standards of achievement. Instead of wanting children to be good adults, good citizens, good parents, they are instead confronted with images of Cindy Crawford, Darryl Strawberry, J-Lo, and P. Diddy and told that these are the zeniths and the cream of our society. This is what they should want and what they should work for.

But then again, I was never in step with the society around me.