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Dear Amy,

How do you feel about the CIPA? (Children's Internet Protection Act) I consider myself an openminded person and I don't believe in censorship. But our son was exposed to hardcore porn on the Internet in his 2nd grade classroom while trying to access info on Michael Jordan. He was devastated by the images he saw. I'm now working at local, state and national levels on this issue. For example, sites like www.whitehouse.com are actually pornographic and too many young children are stumbling onto them. I know the devastating effects this has on a child and as a mother, I cannot ignore the harms. What happened to our son is happening in schools all over the U.S. and it shouldn't be happening in any school! Schools need to have the proper technology in place to make the Internet a safe and educational tool. Otherwise we are playing Russian-roulette with young lives.




Dear Robin,

It's a fine line between censorship and being responsible. Keeping pornography out of the hands of children, or anyone for that matter who isn't asking to be subjected to it, is just plain decency and not in any way censorship. Parental filters don't work. They filter out the good as well as the bad - for instance, "Ask Amy" doesn't pass a lot of filters because there are words like "rape" and "incest," as do children-friendly groups such as Girls, Inc. and Girl Scouts. Clearly we need a better solution that involves stopping the proliferation of pornography on the Internet - as much as we need to stop it in real life.

I think there's an interesting correlation between pornography and abortion - abortion clinics don't promote themselves or reach out to people in the privacy of their own homes. They're listed in phone books, in subway car ads, and often on signs or billboards outside of their offices. In other words, they are visible enough so that someone looking for these resources will know where to turn. We need to ask for a similar respectability from pornographers - don't go after those of us who don't want your "services" - but make yourselves discrete enough for those who do want access.

How to go about this is clearly another story as pornographers aren't likely to take the initiative themselves and anyone who has proposed limitations on pornography, like Andrea Dworkin, is mislabeled as being pro-censorship and anti-sex. One approach -- although this might be construed as support - might be to bombard politicians with these images and ask them how they would feel about their kids having access to this. People often don't realize how "bad" it is and, therefore, don't think there is a need to act. Not until they personally experience it, do they realize what they have been ignoring. The best place to start is with school boards and city councils. Also, you can build community support and this could grow into national support.

Good luck.

- Amy


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