Sometimes people can be jerks.
A good rule of thumb when a sensitive or hot issue sweeps e-Land is "Don't read the comments, don't read the comments, don't read the comments, don't read the comments…" (repeat it to yourself over and over again, rocking back and forth). Too often, troll-dom rules over journalistic integrity.
I deliberately chose CBC's article because the comment section, at least as of now, is not available. Elsewhere, people have turned out in droves blaming Karen as a mother for her daughter's online prostitution.
"Where was the mother?"
"What was the mother doing on prostitution sites anyway?"
"Some parents are so stupid."
"Blame the parents for stupid kids."
You know what?
Parents don't have magical superpowers to be God. They can't be everywhere at all times. And even the best firewalls and parental controls can be usurped by tech savvy folks. I don't know Karen personally, but I'd hazard a guess that she's doing a lot of self-blame already (perhaps more than she should or can carry). She doesn't need mob rule dragging her out to the public square and flogging her with tongues.
How many parents, teachers, youth workers, pastors and mentors have discovered that even the most trustworthy of our kids and youth have a secret cell phone?… have been using friends' tech stuff to access social media or play video games we wish they wouldn't?… have bypassed our failsafe protections to download dodgy stuff?… or have simply said "Up yours", and gone and done stupid online things?
How many of our most trustworthy youth have made friends with scammers and, in this case perhaps pimps, who have shown themselves to be charming, loving, caring, responsible and obedient?
The reality is: we've all been there. We don't want to admit it, but we have. We are. And our neighbors are too.
Mother and daughter here need protection, love, caring and restoration. Blame, guilt, shame and other forms of condemnation will cause further harm and destruction. Period.
We know ways of keeping our kids safe online, safe from recruiters or predators, safe from those who would exploit them. But these methods aren't 100% secure. And yes, there are parents who let their kids have computers in their bedrooms… new cell phones every year… all the apps they want… free reign over what the youth choose to post online. These parents, in these instances, need a nuclear-sized wake up call… but not the demise of their own children. Saying the suffering of children is punishment for parental behaviour is using children to train parents for better behaviour. A child's suffering could be a consequence of parental neglect or ignorance, but it should never a "know you've learned your lesson" kind of thing. Some readers might see it all as the same thing. I don't. And I don't think Karen does either.
Not only that, but I also firmly believe that helicopter parents (parents who suffocate and insulate their kids) do as much damage as neglectful ones. These parents aren't showing the world that they're great parents. They're simply showing their glaring need for absolute control, and a deep mistrust of community AND their own kids to help raise the young. It does take a village to raise a child, but helicopter parents refuse to embrace this reality. And you know what? Kids can be vulnerable here too… will wiggle out and away too… will connect with dodgy friends too…
One that takes a lifetime to develop and nurture, with plenty of stumblings and getting up again.
Most parents and caregivers are vigilant about their children's well being. Instead of public floggings, perhaps we should look to our children, pay attention to the reality that there is still demand for underage prostitution in Canada, and admit to ourselves that we aren't (and never will be) perfect.