I need your help with a war. Honestly.

I don’t know if you ever get an idea in your head that will not go away.  I have learned that this is one of the ways that God talks to me:  repetitive, unceasing thoughts to act.  Let me break it down for you.

What?:  Ever since I watched the Super Bowl (what was that? like 7 months ago?), I have wanted to do something to influence what kind of programming is acceptable for children.  My rage was ignited by Victoria’s Secret ads (soft porn!) and a 3-D half-time ad that included some kind of bed-crawling vixen.  I was infuriated that it was a daytime program with many obviously young and adolescent viewers, especially boys.  Since then I have been constantly aware of (and annoyed by) the onslaught of inappropriate advertisements and programming that are too easily accessible to— and even targeted at— children.

Why?:  If you remember from my post about Sister Julie Beck’s recent Women’s Conference talk, she challenged us women to “Fight!” against pornography.  When we do nothing more than shake our heads at it, we can’t change anything.  Together, though, I think we can make a difference.

How?:  So my idea that was born back in January and has been fueled by promptings and reminders over the past several months is a website that would give moms all the tools they need to file formal complaints when children are exposed to inappropriate media– A place where they can point and click and submit their complaints as well as find templates of letters they can use and customize to voice their concerns.  I have called it the “Protecting Innocence Project” and it is currently being hosted (in all it’s super-rough-draft glory) here.

You?:  It occurred to me that my friends and readers could be a great resource to me in getting this whole thing up and running.  Here are some things I need:

  1. Addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses from all the major networks that could be used to file a formal complaint about programming and advertising.  (This is harder to find than it should be.)
  2. Someone who is knowledgeable enough to help me create “complaint” forms that moms could fill out online, and then they would be automatically sent to the target emails (networks, FCC, etc.)
  3. A collection of other sites, resources, and programs that are related to the fight against pornography and inappropriate media.  I’d like to create a reference list that helps people find this stuff more easily.
  4. Once the site is up and running, I’d love for people to help publicize it among friends, blogs, communities, even newspapers and local news where feasible.  Please don’t send anyone there yet because it’s just bare-bones minimum so far.
  5. Things like buttons and banners would be helpful (the online version, I mean).  I don’t really know how to create stuff like that other than turning an existing graphic into a hot link.

Anyway, this is just a plea to those of you who frequent this blog and find yourself sympathetic to this cause.  If you think you could help out with any of the aforementioned needs, let me know in the comments what you’re interested in/willing to help out with.  I’ll get back to you with a specific assignment (something as simple as researching out contact information for NBC).

Care to join me in this battle ladies?  I think we can do ourselves and our children proud.



50 thoughts on “I need your help with a war. Honestly.

  1. I LOVE the idea! I am not sure what help I could be though. Are you asking for help and then will dole out what jobs you want researched to the volunteers, so you don’t get multiple information? I would be willing to do some research, I’m not much help in form letters or programming so I think this could be the extent to what I do.

    Again, great idea!

  2. You could also include a round-up of secondary research documenting the negative impact pornography has n children and youth–a quick google search netted me a lot of secondary research info. I particularly liked the summary of this paper:

    Click to access CV76.pdf

    Probably Family First, protectkids.com, and netnanny.com, and americanmothers.org all have good research info you could link into as well.

    I would be happy to help publicize the blog when you are ready–just put out a call.

  3. what a great idea! I just remember several years ago (pre-children!) my hubby and I were watching a family movie on ABC. we had specifically decided to watch the show for the reason that it was family friendly. Well, we were annoyed and upset that during the commercial break we were subjected to mentions of sex, homosexuality, etc. I also find this problem when trying to watch family friendly shows today with my kids. Thanks for doing this. I am not much of an internet or computer guru, but would like to help in any other way, research or publicity…let me know.
    BTW…I laughed out loud at your previous entry…To make you feel better, just think 8 months pregnant + squatting to reach something on a bottom shelf at the dollar store + sneezing…not a good combination!

  4. We found an easy way to win this battle in our home. We don’t have a TV! We absolutely love it. We can use our computer to watch movies that we approve, general conference online, etc. and everything else is gone. It sounds extreme, but really, we don’t miss it at all.

    • I admire your fortitude in the TV arena, but online can be a dangerous playground too, and even going to the grocery store and passing the magazines is an assault on our children’s innocence. There’s a lot of stuff worth fighting out there. p.s. I really do admire the TV thing and often wonder if I could go there.

  5. I would love to help advertise on my blog. Unfortunately I am not very savvy when it comes to getting the research you need, but I would be more than happy to jump at the chance to help you advertise it. What a wonderful idea and what a wonderful thing to do! Thank you so much!

  6. Well, we both know how I feel about the Burger King ad, marketed to children. I completely agree that this stuff is inappropriate during the day or at times when children will be watching.

    I could at least post a button on my blog! 🙂

  7. I read this to my husband. He’s in the top of his field as a computer programmer. Normally he contracts with major corporations (right now he works for the makers of Botox) but he’d be happy to lend his talents to this project. He would be able to help you with the complaint form/email thing. Just let me know if you need him. He’s really, really good.

  8. I love that you are doing this. I wish I could help more at this time, but I will at least help you spread the word when you are more ready. And I’ll come back to this once we’re settled in Michigan and see what I can do to help.

    You are awesome.

  9. We cancelled the cable and have only appropriate movies at our house. We also limit tv time and computer time with a great device called “Bob” really that is it’s name. made by hopscotch. Everyone has a code to turn on the device. I can give them time or limit time as I see fit. Online is harder to navigate…a really good blocking system does well. We also have the computer in the dining room where EVERYONE can see what is on the screen. Cancelling the cable has been one of the best moves for our family. It takes about a week of adjustment…then the kids find more creative things to do with their time. It is definately a leap of faith thing.

  10. B.R.I.L.L.I.A.N.T.

    We have never had cable and our Netflix is limited to PG/G movies, and our internet is blocked with all kinds of firewalls and what have you. And STILL my girls feel bombarded …. EVERY TIME THEY WALK OUT THE DOOR!

    Sign me up. Whatever you need, I’m totally there.

  11. As a mother of little boys who will grow into hormone-supercharged adolescents, I’m in. Just give me a job and I’ll do whatever you need me to do.

  12. I can spread the word once things are up and running. I’m useless in the R&D department, but I have a lot of connections for promoting. Get Motherboard and MomBabe involved. They’re super savvy and super connected.

    I have more to say but my student just arrived. I’ll be back…

  13. A word to those of you who believe the solution to this problem is to simply not have a television. I completely understand and support that decision.

    However, the day will come when your kids will not be under your constant supervision, and to pretend that not having TVs or the internet will solve the problem is both naive and socially irresponsible.

    If there is any way we can work to protect someone ELSE’S child, I am of the belief that we should do so, regardless of how we address the situation in our own homes.

    Pornography is destroying families, both in and out of the LDS church. We owe it to every parent’s child to do what we can to fight this evil.

    • I’m fully aware that my kids have their own agency and can make their own choices when they leave my home. It’s all about building good habits while they’re young. Already my kids could give a hoot less about TV when there is a ball to kick around at a friend’s house.

      I also never said that it would solve the problem universally. Just another way to fight back. As long as we watch it, they will put it on. And as much as we hate to admit it; other parents have the right to make choices for their families as they see fit.

      • We didn’t have a TV for 4 years. FOUR glorious years.

        But, my kids went to school, and had friends that watched TV, and were getting teased and taunted because of it.

        They are in high school now, and have to have the internet to do homework, and communicate with their teachers… so just saying “we won’t have one” doesn’t cut it for me. That is NOT realistic. With little kids, yes. Big kids, no.

        You are totally right, when you say “other parents have the right to make choices for their families as they see fit”… and they do, and they will not be the same as yours.

        I just think saying “I’ve solved the problem in my home by not having a TV” is incredibly naive. Your children will see stuff at friends homes, at school, at the grocery store checkout stand, and in the mall. Statistics tell us that by the age of 10, 1of every 8 boys will have seen some sort of pornographic image… and its typically at a friends home.

        You can set a standard at home, and while they are young they will prefer to play with the ball… but those cute little kids grow into teenagers. Then what? You have to fight. Fight! Fight! Fight! It is never to early to start fighting the fight to save a family. Maybe not your’s now, but someone else’s may need the fighting for.

        Righteous women everywhere have been counseled by our leaders to fight. So, lets stop pretending there isn’t a problem as long as I don’t see the problem, and do this!

  14. Count me in!

    I completely agree with DeNae. Simply “not having a computer/TV in your home” does not stop the child from seeing or using it at his friends homes. Unless you are not going to allow them to go to public (or private schools) or have friends, then I guess that would work. But you still have to eat…

    We can no longer afford to take the easy, “no tv/internet route” any longer. WE, as righteous women, MUST act. Who else will?

    I have a friend who was sick of the magazine covers at the grocery stores. She went and met with each individual grocery store manager in our town, and brought her young sons in tow. She asked them to please cover up the inappropriate magazines, for the sake of her children, and every other child in our town. It was amazing to see the courage of one woman. Every single store now has “magazine guards” where you can see the name of the magazine and that’s it.

    Can’t we ALL do something like that? EASY!

    Our children LIVE in society. We have to eat– so we go to the stores– and there is filth everywhere!

    I used to have the addresses for all the major networks for just this very thing. I will look through my stuff and see if I still do. They really should not be hard to nail down– even if its just the local stations. I think we should start local and then work our way up the chain. If the big guys see change happening at the bottom– all over the country– it gets their attention.

    I will be happy to do what I can.

    It is high time we all stand a little taller and be a litter stronger to the courageous thing!

    • I think it’s hilarious that you all assume that because we don’t have a TV that I sit back and say “ahhh…I’m done. That war is won.” I fully realize what else is out there. But I WILL NOT allow it into my home. What does that say to your kids when you are only willing to keep it out of yours, until they’re made fun of at school?! WOW! Really, do you all think that you can continue to give these TV execs a rating and a profit, and solve the problem by writing a letter? When did Americans become so complacent and hypocritical that they were only willing to fight in a way that was convenient and not looked down upon socially?

      • Lets not attack each other on someone else’s blog… That’s bad manners.

        You don’t have a TV and I do. Big deal.

        I lived without a TV for 4 yrs and while it was perfectly lovely and enjoyable, I choose not to live that way now. That’s my choice. Just because I choose to have one doesn’t mean that I am playing into the problem.

        Lets agree to disagree and find a common ground to fight the filth. Because even though people choose not to have TV’s in their home that in and of itself does not stop the filth pushers.

        WRITING LETTERS (it does work. I’ve seen it work); talking to grocery store managers about magazine covers; talking to Mall Managers about inappropriate Ads in windows; Calling people on the carpet using filthy language; talking with principals about internet filters and clothing rules (uniforms!); all of that DOES make a difference.

        TV is just one avenue. Filth is there, ready and accessible to be viewed and listened to by our children. Whether we have TV’s, internet, radios or even magazines in our homes… it is still there.

        We have a moral obligation to do all that we can to protect all children everywhere.

      • Wow; I offer a suggestion to ADD TO what you are all trying to do, I get called naive and socially irresponsible, and then when I defend my position, I have bad manners. I never said that what you are doing won’t work…..I just wanted to offer a more ACTIVE way to get involved. No I don’t care that you have a TV. So does everyone else I know. Don’t get so defensive when someone else offers a different point of view! I realize that TV is only one avenue. But the TV execs is who you’re all looking for contact info for, so I commented on TV. I was merely saying that you send a double message when you verbally fight what you’re not willing to turn off. Since when should mormon moms attack other mormon moms for trying to be a “more peculiar people”?

  15. Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    We don’t watch tv. We have two. We watch movies that we feel are appropriate. In fact, my husband and I wonder how our children will respond someday if they happen to find spouses that DO watch tv. It will probably drive them crazy. So maybe they will get lucky and pair up with someone who also doesn’t have a high tolerance for crap. Because that is what most of tv is. That is how we’ve solved the problem in our home. Maybe if everyone stopped watching until the programing and ads got cleaner …

    It isn’t a way to “protect” our children. We simply don’t have time to filter through all the negativity and complete waste of time that tv is. We are far too busy. We are involved in a lot of family activities and extracurricular and school activities. Who has time to just sit around and watch tv anyway? I think you could tape sporting events or favorite tv shows and then fast forward through the advertisements. No one should have to grow up believing that it is normal and acceptable to have to have advertising and crummy tv shoved down their throats simply because that is what is on.

    We do have internet. But we have been teaching our children how to use it responsibly. We have good filters too. But the best defense is to teach them what to avoid and why.

    I think a site where consumers could complain would be helpful. But really, if people still watch, adds will continue to play. Although, when enough people in large groups write and call in to complain about certain adds and programming it often causes a network to reconsider running the show or ad.

    I think that there should be an xxx domain for the porn. Anything pornographic on the computer should just be .xxx instead of .com. It would really help.

  16. I LOVE this idea! I wish I lived in the States. I would be all over this.

    I stopped buying Avon and encourage everyone I know to stop when I saw pubic hair in one of their magazines. That was after a build up of a LOT of other crap. I ripped pages out of every catalog I got.

    Greg is big fighter against pornography over here (Europe!) in his small way.

    It’s great for people who choose not to have TV in their home. I would like to do that myself, but what’s out there should be spoken out against. I’m not sure if this was sarcastic or what, but I HOPE so because if not, that’s exactly what will keep change from EVER coming: “Maybe if everyone stopped watching until the programing and ads got cleaner …”

    Truth be told I don’t think there will be much improvement in what’s shown on TV. If there is I will be very happy. However, I think fight against it for the sake of making your voice heard. You TRY to make change, OF COURSE. But letting people know that you won’t take this crap sitting down is sort of the most important thing to me.

    Anyway, best of luck. I’ll advertise on my blog, OF COURSE when it’s ready. Fabulous idea.

  17. Wow. It’s obvious there’s a lot of passion about this topic, and in the grand scheme, that’s a GOOD thing! Let’s all just recommit ourselves to fighting this the best way that WE can. In the meantime, if anyone else wants to join me on my little project, I’m loving all your offers for help. It makes me really excited. Thanks.

  18. A word to those of you who believe the solution to this problem is to simply not have a television. I completely understand and support that decision.

    However, the day will come when your kids will not be under your constant supervision, and to pretend that not having TVs or the internet will solve the problem is both naive and socially irresponsible.

    I 100% agree.

    It would be nice to be able to live in a TV-less world and have that be the way that this problem of pornography could be stopped. But, sadly all that is doing is putting your head in the sand.

    I don’t think anyone ridiculed you, Katie, for choosing to not have a TV. What they ridiculed was the fact that you said, and I quote: “We found an easy way to win this battle in our home. We don’t have a TV!”

    That is what I think everyone is taking issue with. It’s in YOUR home. But, just because that’s how you do it in YOUR home doesn’t win the battle, nor does it stop pornography.

    How old are your children?

    The pornography problem is everywhere. When its “not in your home” you just don’t see it, and it then becomes an “out of sight, out of mind”– complacency– kind of a problem. One that affects everyone else but not me because we have “solved it in our home”.

    I’m not criticizing your choice for not having a TV, Katie. That is admirable. Heaven knows most of us would like to NOT have the stupid boob-tube in our home. But, why do you feel like you need to be so defensive about it? And further, accusing those that do have TV’s of being hypocritical is very aggressive.

    Pornography, like DeNae said, is ruining lives. Good, happy, upstanding LDS lives. I have personal experience with people being involved with pornography… good upstanding people: High Council members, Bishopric members, WOMEN, teenage boys, teenage GIRLS, grandfathers… its no longer the scary, hairy fat man that hides in the bushes that uses pornography. It affects every-day-normal-run of the mill-LDS-people. Men and women. It hurts not only the user but those that are associated with the user… because the users perspective on life and relationships changes.

    Julie Beck said at Women’s Conference that we must “fight. Fight! Fight! Fight! “She repeated it three times… and got a spontaneous standing ovation. It was incredibly moving to hear her speak and tell us to fight! The spirit was present and strongly testified that we all must unite together to fight.

    She did not mean to fight amongst ourselves.

    We have to stop pretending that because its not a problem in our home, then its not a problem at all. We have to stop thinking if I don’t have it in my home it won’t affect me, or it will “just go away”. Because, that just isn’t so. It may not affect your husband, or your child or even you… but what about a niece or a nephew? What about a brother or a sister? Or a parent? Or a dear friend? Looking the other way doesn’t help those other people whose lives are affected by pornography.

    That is what they were saying: Expand our horizons and fight!

    • I am aware that this is only part of the solution. There is a reason that I used the phrase “in my own home.” I originally only addressed TV because that it what Stephanie specifically mentioned in her original post. That is the problem that I have with all of the replies to my comment. I offer the TV-less way of life as a way to ADD to the fight, and rather than have anyone accept it as a valid point, (whether or not you choose to actually do it) you all tell me that I am naive, socially irresponsible, and burying my head in the sand. I am all about fighting this problem in other arenas. I think it is silly to assume that I don’t when I use such a drastic solution in my own home. Do I know that my children are exposed to all of this when they leave my home? Of course. That is WHY I want one more safe place for them. We didn’t just throw out the tube, and end of story. I am also aware that they may make other choices when they leave my home for good. But they know why we do this. They also know of other ways to access the good entertainment they want without turning on the TV and getting the crap with it.

      It is sad that so many people view eliminating television in the home as a form of cowardly surrender. It is exactly the opposite and I will explain why.

      Why do you think pornography exists? It exists because the people producing the stuff are making a profit. You can write letters, march, protest and complain, (and you will not be the first to do so) but as long as those who produce filth are rewarded for it monetarily, it will be a much harder fight. Take away the profits, and you take away the incentive to produce this smut in the first place. The TV execs don’t need the problem brought to their attention. They know EXACTLY what they are doing, and they are doing it because it sells. That being the case, why not put your money where your mouth is and vote with your dollars? By eliminating television from my home I keep money out of the pockets of the large TV networks you are purportedly trying to fight. What could possibly turn the heads of TV executives more quickly than a nation of angry families who absolutely refused to use the services they provide? This applies to movie companies, newspapers magazines, radio and any other form of media.

      If you can tell me a way of influencing network executives more quickly and with greater power than the solution I have proposed, I will cede this argument. Until then I suggest you re-examine some of your assumptions.

      To summarize, fighting in any way is good….but some ways are more effective than others. Have the courage to hit them where it really hurts, and not just pay lip service to the idea of effecting real, lasting change.

      • Katie, I want to apologize to you because I worry that my original comment opened a floodgate that washed all over you. I think your choice to eliminate television from your home is admirable, and your explanation here makes perfect sense. It’s great to know there are parents out there who take this issue so seriously, and are doing whatever they can to deal with it. Best wishes to you!

  19. You know you can count me in. However I can help I will. I thought it wasn’t an issue for me yet, but I had an experience 2 months ago That taught me differently. Within the course of one week, my seven year old son was able to accidentally access pornography on a friend’s computer (that had multiple filters installed and running), and then, two days later was perusing the video rack at Albertson’s and found Demi Moore’s naked body on the cover of Stiptease, placed conveniently AT HIS EYE LEVEL. You better believe I am spitting mad and ready for a fight.

    However I can help, let me know. I’m not very computer savvy, but I can write letters, research addresses, whatever.

    You go, girl! And take me along for the ride.

  20. I came here from DeNae’s, I think this is so wonderful that you are willing to start this all up and I wold be glad to help however I can. Alas, I too am not too computer savvy and live in the middle of nowhere Montana but I hope I can still help somehow.

  21. Stopped over from DaNae’s blog to say hi. I’d love to help any way I can. I dabble in graphics (really it’s just dabbling) but if you cant find anyone else I’d love to try my hand at it. And I can mention it on my blog too when it’s up.

  22. I also came here from DaNae’s blog. I would love to help. I can find things on the web for you, just let me know. Thanks for helping us take action!

  23. Great discussion! What a great idea.

    If we can win the battles in our homes, we can create an entire generation of fighters in the battle. That’s why parenthood is so incredibly powerful. I am teaching my children, helping them realize the dangers of pornography, and I am feeding the growing trend of not accepting certain types of media.

    I have noticed that as I make wise media choices, others recognize that they don’t have to give in to what the media scoops up for them. I try hard to make both my home and my presence a refuge. If you are at my home, you are relatively safe from media that is degrading. If you are in my presence, I will help fight the battle with you.

    I think Katie has a great idea in starting with her own home. We also do not have a TV in our home – and quite honestly, one of the things that really impressed me about my wife when we were dating is that she didn’t want a TV in her home someday.

    And we are not only eliminating pornography from our home, but we are teaching our kids why we won’t have it in our home. My family and my home are where I am starting. If you want to drain a pond, you better first block up the stream that flows into it, and if you want to eliminate pornography from society, you better first raise a generation who will choose by their own agency to avoid it. We cannot force them to make that decision, but we will teach them right. We will make our home a refuge both for our kids and their friends, and we will do our best to recruit our kids into the cause. When the rising generation refuses to allow pornography in, the whole industry will fall.

    Count the dads in!

    – Chas Hathaway

  24. I went to the church website lds.org and they sent me to this site (not affiliated with the church): http://www.cp80.org/. We have other friends in associations to fight pornography and we’ve done some research if you need anything. lovegregandmindy

  25. Steph, this is a great idea. It’s awesome that we are all so willing to stand together and fight against all the smut in the media. I can research network contact info and other sites. You could totally email me with an assignment.

    I agree with you, Katie. In our own homes is the place to start. I have been without a TV in my home for 5 years. It has most certainly NOT made me complacent. In fact, it has made the the very opposite of complacent about it. My definition of pornography has widened considerably. When I do see pornography outside of my home, I am shocked and sickened by it.

    I do realize that my children WILL see pornography. The sad truth is that they cannot escape it. My goal is to raise my children to choose not to look at it. If I allow pornography (remember, my definition of pornography is quite wider than most.) in my home, what am I saying to them? I don’t have much influence with the TV bigwigs, but I have a TON of influence with my children, and if I raise them right, in 20 or so years there will be 4 more adults in the world who hate pornography and will fight it.

  26. Wow. First of all, I LOVE the idea, Stephanie. Second of all, I’m really sad that moms are fighting each other (in someone else’s comments) because of what they’re choosing for their own kids. I feel for Katie, simply because I know she didn’t mean that she’s DONE fighting the war in her home. People forget that they’re reading your words differently than you intended… But I love this idea. I’ll try to help any way I can… It might just be to put a button on my blog, but I can do that!! 🙂

  27. I would love to help. I am not sure I can specifically help with the tasks you referenced…but I will figure it out if need be. I have recently had a bout with internet pornography finding it’s way through my filter into the innocence of my 13 year old son. The trauma we went through and continue to go through from just that one instance is disgusting. Please let me help. I will do what I can to help out any way you need me!

  28. Steph–you know I’m in. I’ll do whatever no one else wants to. 😉 I do some graphic design, and Dave is a programmer, so between us–we could help with the website. I’m also pretty darn good at “google” and was an English major in a former life, so I could help with form letters and researching, etc. Let me know!

  29. Sometimes there are even more subtle examples of advertising during TV shows that are family-appropriate that are interrupted by commercials for shows that are not meant for younger viewers, and the commercials themselves advertising the shows showing content that is not appropriate for younger viewers. Very frustrating.

    I hope strides can be made with your war. It is not about limiting other people’s freedoms, but protecting the freedom of parents to decide what is appropriate to expose their children to. Also, minimizing unexpected or solicited exposure of children to erotic content will benefit all children, even if it is only the neighbors next door who see it. What hurts other children will also hurt our children who interact with them outside of our homes.

    I would be happy to help how I can.

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