Porn Hub is the 10th most visited website in the world, and #3 in bandwidth use, behind Google and Netflix. It’s had an explosion in traffic since Covid 19 put us all under lockdown with too much time in front of our screens. Teens are watching too, but YOU (the parent) have no idea how much: “Research demonstrates that parents are, for the most part, unaware of their children’s porn usage, with half of parents unaware their teens had seen pornography and teens having seen up to 10 times more pornography than their parents believe. Parents especially underestimated their teen’s exposure to extreme content, such as violent porn, which is just as easy to access as traditional pornography content” (quote from this article). For some time, a woman named Laila Mickelwait has tried to get the world to pay attention to the dangerous and illegal activity on the site, including starting an online petition to shut it down that now has over 2 million signatures. Finally, the New York Times was spurred to investigate, and found that the worst imaginable kinds of exploitation were to be found on Pornhub. This led to Canadian company, MindGeek, the owner of the site, taking down 13 million videos, leaving 3 million. In addition, Visa, Mastercard and Discover Card will no longer process payments for purchases on the site. A lawsuit by 40 victims was filed in December, and now a Canadian government Ethics Committee is (this week) hearing testimony from victims, including a girl who was as a 7th grader persuaded by a boy she had a crush on to send a naked picture, which ended up on Pornhub. Her saga has been covered by Dr. Oz, in a must-watch video (must-watch WITH your teen, that is, to warn them about the consequences of sexting). Her story shows how a single moment of weakness can lead to years of emotional torture and public exploitation through sites like Pornhub that allow posting of content without consent, and are infested with illegal pictures and videos such as those showing the actual rape and assault of both adults and children.
Almost a decade ago, I attended a seminar on human trafficking, and was astounded to find out that it happens here…in America…to vulnerable teens. It could happen to your neighbor’s child, or your child’s schoolmate or friend. The Daily Herald, in an article about a newly opened home for those rescued from sex trafficking, said: “The average age of entry into the life of trafficking is 12-14 years of age, and recruitment of these young girls and boys often happens through social media and online grooming tactics.”
Geoff Rogers, co-founder of the United States Institute Against Human Trafficking (USIAHT) said in an interview that the U.S. is the biggest consumer of sex in the world, and that “We’re also driving the demand with our own people, with our own kids.” Rogers noted that “there are tremendous numbers of kids, a multitude of kids that are being sold as sex slaves today in America…50 percent to 60 percent of them coming out of the foster care industry.” The State Department in 2017 reported that children who are at special risk include those in foster care, homeless youth, undocumented immigrant children and those with substance abuse problems. This article includes real stories of trafficked youth (it’s from a faith-based site, but is still informative for all audiences). The article talks about how we can be alert to situations that might be going on in front of our eyes, and also includes information on a film on human trafficking that will be in limited release in theaters January 23.