Guarding hearts not computers

On October 10th 2017 Amanda Todd, a 15 year old Canadian girl, was found dead in her home. Her suicide was attributed to cyber bullying at the hands of ‘friends’ and strangers alike.

It started when a photo of her topless (which she uploaded at the request of strangers she was connecting with via video chat) was circulated on the internet. What followed was a series of tragic events – she struggled with anxiety and depression, turned to alcohol and drugs, her family moved towns, she changed schools twice, she had sex with a guy-friend, she was physically attacked … On September 7th she posted this video online …

Her story has sparked a lot of discussion about the perils of social networking and the need for greater regulation. Whilst this heartbreaking story is a cautionary tale of the pitfalls of internet use (the need for adequate monitoring, the degree of ignorance our teens tend to have to the permanency and scope of choices made in those ‘now’ moments, the cruelty of teens to one another, the speed with which those things can escalate etc) my heart broke to watch this video for a deeper reason.

I watched this and wept for a girl who was completely at the mercy of others to determine her own sense of self and to know her value and worth. Every step of this story is reflective of her search for significance in the responses and acceptance of others who are seeking exactly the same thing in their own (dysfunctional and depraved) way. I see a girl who would no doubt have felt she had no other options than the ones she chose.

I wonder if this couldn’t be a great resource to parents and leaders looking to engage and invest into youth? Perhaps this is a video you could watch with your teen and discuss it together? It would be a great opportunity to help them see the various “t-intersections” Amanda faced and the choices she made at each – workshopping some alternatives or ways she might have avoided some of the situations she found herself in.

Our young people are inundated with opportunities, interactions and decisions that are beyond their maturity and capacity to handle alone. Let’s be intentional about having preventative/pre-emptive conversations with our young people. Firstly, to equip them to navigate life in positive and healthy ways. But secondly, (and of infinite importance) to develop relationships of trust, safety and openness that will stand your young person in great stead to look to you (or other significant adults in their world) when they find themselves in circumstances beyond their ability to navigate alone.

Just a thought.

why you should HATE porn 

The harmful impacts of porn on those consuming it, those creating it and those affected by the consequences of addiction ought to cause a degree of alarm. The ready availability and ease of access to pornographic material requires intentionality to stand against the insidious nature of its reach and consequences. 

  • It makes public what should be private 

Pornography makes ‘entertainment’ out of activities that ought to be personal and private. It is so counterintuitive to have doors on bedrooms, curtains on Windows and do not disturb signs on hotel rooms and then watch by choice the exact actions we would deem necessary to discreetly protect. 

  • It turns real people into mere objects 

Most porn depicts women as existing for the pleasure and gratification of men. As porn access and use escalates there is an increasing dehumanising of all involved. It trains watchers to disconnect from any sense of empathy, care or interest in the people as people (someones’s sister or friend) and to see them only for the functions they perform. The societal impacts of this are being documented as devastating. 

  • It promotes sex without intimacy

Sexual exploration and enjoyment is designed to be an expression of intimacy and a catalyst for deeper intimacy between loving, committed adults. Pornography is such a perverse distortion of this design intent, depicting sex entirely devoid of relational connection or love and often without consent. 

  • It normalises rape and sexual violence

Over 88% of pornographic content depicts acts involving violence or force. Non-consensual sex and aggression (inflicting real pain) against women is not only condoned but portrayed as enjoyable for the women. Doctors report an alarming number of young girls presenting with severe anal damage and associated complications as a result of rough and inappropriate sexual activity. 

  • It is a common but poor sexual educator 

Young people are viewing porn before they have even had their first crush or kiss and well before any formal education from schools (or even parents). They are exposed to an insane level of sexual learning before their brains are even able to process what they’re seeing or the reactions it illicits in them. It is shaping the sexual appetite and expectations of people who are often without a counter-message about the truth of healthy sexuality and intimacy. 

  • It is as addictive as any drug 

Addiction to pornography is a well-documented, life destroying scourge. Research reveals impact on job retention, financial security, educational success, family/relational health and general mental and physical wellbeing as the result of an all-consuming obsession with watching porn. Like any drug, an increasing amount or level of stimuli is required to achieve the same degree of arousal, enjoyment or release. Some youth have reported watching more than eight hours of porn per day!

We should HATE porn. For the gross distortion it is of something innately precious. For its numerous negative and destructive consequences. For the themes of dishonour and abuse of power. 

This website is a useful resource for education, advocacy and also practical support to fight sexual/pornographic addiction. Check it out –