God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Innocence Stolen

Today is serious. It is for parents and grandparents and all who have young children enriching their lives. I write and share as a means of warning each of you to remain vigilant at all times.

Our little ones are such vulnerable creatures and in just a moment can have their precious, sweet minds assaulted and maimed. It happens with such ease even when we believe that we cushion and hedge them within walls of protection. They are growing up in a “virtual” world that is beyond that which even the young parents experienced—let alone the one that this gramma-mom (Casey’s newest term) knew.

Last week when we were visiting treasured friends on the lovely North Shore of Oahu, friend Ann asked if I worried about Casey using the computer. I said that at this point I didn’t as he isn’t on it often and then basically only to use the computer functions rather than the internet—except when we are doing his blog entries. Since our computers are in common rooms—my office and the family room—I am aware when he is on it and pay attention to what he is doing. He has neither a computer nor a TV in his room, much to his dismay. We even shamefully deprive him of his own cell phone.

So, I was surprised to receive a difficult call from friend Ann telling me that Casey had accessed pornographic websites on her computer. I was stunned, dismayed and, the more I learned, heartbroken to know that his precious, sweet mind had been so corrupted. Corrupted by a power over which he was rather powerless.

As it turns out, his intentions were somewhat predictably normal for a 9 year old boy’s mind—maybe not what we want them to be, but normal. He had put in a search about naked ladies. Now, I remember as a young girl, being fascinated by bare-breasted women in the National Geographic. Later generations would take quick peeks at the shocking Playboy covers. Bodies are interesting and mysterious to children.

But—the big but—today is different, scarier and dangerous. Having no idea what he was getting into, Casey entered the ugly, staggeringly evil world of grotesque pornography. Fortunately, Ann told us and so we have been able to talk with him, dry his tears and comfort the shame he felt—and then we cried and prayed that God would erase the harm.

I write this not to make Casey public but to tell people to be super vigilant and always aware—it is easy to become complacent when we know the goodness of our children and thus forget that they are just that—children, with inquiring minds and an abundance of curiosity in a world that is not child-friendly.

What are we going to do? Right now we will limit his internet access to the AOL Kid program where we control what is available and allowed. When he needs to do more extensive research for school assignments, we will do it in tandem—which has already been our practice. I would like to say that I am confident that he has “learned a lesson”—I believe that he has but I also wonder if now that the curiosity has been fed, there will be temptation. I pray each night that this fear is groundless and that God will surround Casey with a shield of protection and an abhorrence of what he has learned is out there. I want his innocence to return for a few more years.

13 comments:

Eden said...

Hi Jane,

I totally understand your concern. You have laid a great foundation for Casey and one slip will not undo the good work you have done. He may be curious but you also have established boundaries. He will be the good kid he always has been. If you did not worry, you would not be the kind of Grandma-mom I imagined you to be and one that I aspire to emulate.

(I hope I am saying things right. I am an English Learner, so... I just wanted to say I really admire you.)

Many a times as a single parent who raised three children, I felt that my parenting was inadequate and my best may not have been good enough. But my children have turned out ok, so maybe I did not do so bad.

Jane said...

Eden, thanks for the encouraging words. They mean a lot. And.....your English is quite fine! I bet your kids are all great ones.

Ann said...

Jane, I've always thought Casey was extraordinarily lucky to have you and Ken in his life, and the way you handled this just confirms it. I hope the lines of communication between all of you always stay this open! And thank you for understanding the difficulty I faced, and knowing that friendship demanded no less.

Jane said...

Dear Friend Ann, thanks for caring enough to risk telling us what you knew would hurt. Casey needed to not carry this inside himself as a secret to be afraid of. By talking, he was able to put it behind.

kloeamongtheturks said...

Interesting, I've been noticing the same curiosity from my 10 year old. He's been making comments about my body that aren't totally innocent, or at least let me know that those hormones are starting to change him.

I'm hoping the key is honesty and caring, and to instill respect for women in a society that often degrades our image.

Hope you are fine.

kloeamongtheturks said...

Interesting, I've been noticing the same curiosity from my 10 year old. He's been making comments about my body that aren't totally innocent, or at least let me know that those hormones are starting to change him.

I'm hoping the key is honesty and caring, and to instill respect for women in a society that often degrades our image.

Hope you are fine.

Jane said...

Kloe (Anna), the concept of women being degraded is one we talked about. At first it he didn't quite understand but as I explained it to him, he understood. As my son (Casey's uncle) said last night, we are long past the magazine stage into gross, hardcore pornography these days. I wonder if our sons would enjoy each other--both having experienced life in another culture.

Anonymous said...

Jane,
I’m so sorry that this happened to Casey. As you know at his age little boys are always inquisitive about “naked ladies”, he just got far more than he wanted or bargained for. I believe (hope) that children imprint only the things that their minds are mature enough to accept, and the rest are filed away until they are old enough to understand. I read many adult best seller books when I was only a couple of years older than Casey and was shocked when I reread them as an adult that so much of the seamier scenes had just been over my head and that I had retained no memory of them at all. It is a scary time to be raising children today, but you and Ken give Casey all of the guidance and love he needs to put this behind him. Thank you for the warning; I will be even more vigilant with my grandsons when they are on my computer.
Take care my friend,
Mary Pace

Jane said...

Mary Pace, thanks for the words of experience and wisdom and encouragement. I think you are right as he has made no mention of any of it again and doesn't seem to be preoccupied or perturbed. Sure would like to see you.

Jane

Chiocciola said...

Jane,
Sorry you had to go through this. As the others have said, it seems like you have handled it in the best possible way, trying to teach a lesson out of a difficult situation.

These things are everywhere today - once in college I sat down at a computer in the library and someone had left a window open, but minimized - when I clicked on internet explorer it popped up and it was some hardcore porn - I was mortified!

Thanks for sharing your experience - I am sure a lot of parents are learning from it.

Jane said...

Erin, thanks once again. You are a good friend of Casey's (and us).

Maggie said...

He does need restricted but, at the same time, what he's already seen isn't necessarily dirty or harmful. I don't have children but I know what I would have looked for at slightly older, 12 or 13, and although it would have horrified my mother it wouldn't necessarily have been bad. I was as curious as anyone but still grew up wanting to be a nun (!) As adults having done various things including some we aren't proud of we are very sensitive and romantic about the innocence of childhood but for the children so much of what we worry about is just practical. Don't worry... what he's done, he's done, and he's lucky enough to have parents like you who will protect him from worse things. We all need that.

Jane said...

Maggie, thanks for the kind words. I checked your blog and I totally agree with your wanting Italy over Scotland. I sure agree--even though Scotland is nice.