This has been building in me for a while. I am not calling out any specific person. This is not a passive-aggressive post designed to address one person but indicting everyone instead. This is a response to trends and patterns I've seen, no doubt a product of the season: Summer. So, follow me here for a moment before I get to my point.
I just read an article in New York Magazine about a YouTube family. You know, one of those ones that posted daily about their comings and goings of the children and their new homes and cars… just one of those day-in-the-life things. My daughter has watched a couple of those families over the years. This particular family’s story focused on an adoption for a while, which is irrelevant here, but here is what is relevant. I just learned this.
YouTube does not allow comments on videos featuring children because internet pedophiles would place cryptic messages to each other time-stamping glimpses of children in bathtubs or bathing suits. They have secret code-languages to call out to each other where to find these images -- for their sick pleasure. Here is the quote:
Last year, Google began rolling out policy changes affecting family YouTubers, first by disabling comments on content featuring young children — which cut off a crucial line of communication with their audiences — after news outlets reported pedophiles were time-stamping scenes in videos as a virtual Bat-Signal to one another (a child swimming in a bathing suit, for example, or children in the bathtub).
And here’s where I kind of lost it. Parents, why do you post so many pictures of your young children in skimpy bathing suits? I really want to direct this to mothers of sons and daughters equally, and it is directed to parents of children of any sex/gender. I just happen to see this more with young girls. And by young, I mean anyone under the age of consent. The pictures I see range from toddlers in bikinis to tweens and teens posing like Sports Illustrated bathing suit models.
Internet pedophiles find these pictures. I will not leave that open for dispute. If you are concerned about the true existence of these sickos, you can look at the sex-offender registry in your town and see the crimes committed by those placed on the registry. I bet you will see people whose record includes internet-based crimes. I know that’s true in my town. And maybe the children for which those pedophiles were indicted included photos beyond bathing suits, but how is it at all different if your child -- clad in anything -- ends up on any of those sites? Pedophiles search out any photos, but I somehow think it is worse if the child is barely clad or posing suggestively.
I guess my question is, why? Convince me about this. Why do you need your children posing in these photos on internet social media sites? What do YOU have to gain by posting these pictures of your children? What does your child have to gain? Feel free to @me on this one. I get it; we all think our children are beautiful, playful young things who ought to be showcased for these gorgeous qualities. I post photos of my kids. You don’t need to @me about that. Because of my time in the model-mom/agent world, many of these children I see happen to be in child-modeling, and let me reassure you: nothing about these photos will get you any chance at work. In fact, as an agent, I would never put a bathing-suit photo in a child’s portfolio because I would never want to be responsible for a photo like that getting into the wrong hands. Just convince me why you need to post anything that offers a more-likely chance for your child to be exploited?
And I’m not talking about Satanic pedophile cannibals here, so please do not think that has any origin to this rant. This is based on garden-variety internet pedophiles that I think we can all agree do, in fact, exist.
If you feel called out, my question is kind of… maybe think about this before you post? Maybe clean up your existing posts? It’s not too late. Am I making enemies here? Feel free to wish me to eff off on this position, but it’s not changing. We are a village and we need our children not to be exploited in any way. (Have I exploited my child by putting her into the business? Not wanting to debate that here, but you could have that opinion, too. I’m just acknowledging that some might have that argument.) If I help prevent one kid from falling into that abyss, it’s worth my time writing this.
Parents, it is your job to protect your kids. It is not your job to rack up likes of your cuties in compromised positions. First day of school? Eating ice cream? Bring those on. Fully-clad, please.
Feel free to like the Bizzy Mama facebook group (where I announce new posts) or head over to my Instagram, @thebizzymama for kid and pet photos and also new blog post announcements. My email is email@example.com and I am definitely open to hearing your thoughts on this topic.