The Real Internet Danger for Your Kids (Hint: It’s Not the Pedophiles)

Several weeks have passed since a blogger with a complete disregard for the laws of the Internet hijacked a photo of me with my daughter and used it on a site that ripped me to shreds for something completely unrelated to my parenting. The photo itself is down; although he continued to ignore the illegality of his actions, repeated reminders that this was an innocent child’s photo seemed to shame him into submission.

It was a move that scared even me, the proponent of the first amendment, the parent who has declared so many others over-sensitive to the fears of the Internet.

And yet, I stand by my original assessment of parents who maintain a terror of the camera. A photo of your child on the Internet is no more going to make them a target of a pedophile than they already are walking, talking, breathing on public streets every day. Trust me. You can check the child molester websites every day and you still won’t know of some of the darkest, dirtiest sickos hiding in your town (I say this having learned from a cop friend just the other day that there’s now one living around the corner from me . . . and no, he doesn’t pop up on any websites).

The perverts on the Internet don’t scare me because a sane, normal (read: won’t end up on STFU, Parents) mom or dad does not put photos out there that could be used in an inappropriate manner. If you don’t take porn-esque photos, they don’t end up in a porn collection.

No, the threat to our kids is much simpler, and much harder to put a stop to. It’s cruelty.

The mean people.

The cyberbullies.

The troll surfing the web with little purpose beyond making themselves feel better about their miserable existence by trashing another person’s psyche, and who will stop at nothing . . . not even hurting a child . . . to convince themselves they’ve got the upper hand.

I take, for example, the person who logged onto Facebook late last fall, found a photo of my daughter that had been used to illustrate a story on one of the blogs where I was writing, and pronounced her “an ugly white child.”

She is indeed white. She is a child.

As for ugly, well I’m her mother. I will never see her that way. As her mother, the comment made me angry. But it’s as a human that the comment made me sad.

Because someone saw the photo of a little girl smiling out at the world and just had to demean her. To hurt her. And for what? To ensure that in X years, when a kid plugs their name into ol’ Google that they will find a photo of themselves with an insult beneath it?

Will that effect world peace, solve world hunger, balance the federal budget?

The anger and vitriol on the Internet surrounding the political game is frustrating but at least marginally understandable. These is the state of our nation we’re fighting about.

Fight over abortion. Fight over gay rights. Fight over the cost of gasoline.

But when you sit over a keyboard, fingers itching, smile spreading because you’ve just launched a zinger at a little kid for the most shallow of reasons — her looks — here’s a thought for you: if you don’t have anything nice to say, sometimes it’s better just to shut up.

Have you “liked” Inside Out Motherhood on Facebook yet?

Image via DeclanTM/Flickr


  1. HOLY F#CK! I just saw this., What an ass. You were so right about the cyberbulling. So many moms out there, but to attack a child? Who the f#ck is this guy? URL? Lemme at his! Grrrr….

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