"How the Internet Endangers Children and What To Do About It"
Here is a five to seven minute speech given during a Toastmasters International "International Speech
Contest" following specific rules. It was the "target speech" for
the Evaluation Contest. Toastmasters International
is not responsible for the specific content of this speech.
Handouts will be distributed where appropriate. Note that up to
50 of such handouts can be had for free by calling 1-800-THE-LOST.
[[FIRST DRAFT, SECOND VERSION - NOT FOR PUBLICATION]]
Patrick Henry, in his Give Me Liberty Or Give Me Death speech 231 years
ago this week, said, "For
my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know
the whole truth, to know the worst, and to provide for it."
Tonight, despite the pain it may bring us, we will learn the whole truth
about children and the dangers of the Internet, the worst of this truth,
and what can be done to stem the damage.
Mr. Contest Chair, Fellow Toastmasters, Honored Guests.
The Internet as we all know is a wonderful resource for recreation and
learning. But it has a dark side. It enables criminals and
others to lead your children into great danger, sometimes even death.
Hiding our eyes from the problem does not make it go away. We must
learn about the dangers, then act to protect our children.
- Who's heard of a web site called "MySpace.com."? It's
a web site that allows anyone to post online anything at all.
Great, right? Well children are posting personally identifiable
information online. A little snippet here, a little clue there,
and suddenly your daughter is brutally attacked and left for dead.
Sadly, this happens too frequently.
- IM is another danger. What's that? That's instant messaging.
You get to send a message to another person instantly. Children
are very naive and very trusting. They think they are indestructible.
Children have disappeared forever, without a trace, when pedophiles
they thought were other teenagers instant messaged them to meet them
at a certain place. Suddenly, your child is gone without a trace.
Does you kid have dozens and dozens of screen names in his buddy list?
Guess what. About 10% of them are pedophiles that he thinks are
sexy babes dying to meet him. Oh yeah, know what LMIRL means?
That means "Let's Meet In Real Life." Lovely.
- Bullying. Remember that? Bullying nowadays it's worse.
Now the bully uses the Internet to harass your children. Your
children could get harassed hundreds of times a day. Worse, the
bully sends the message to your kid's cell phone, you get the huge bill
for thousands of dollars, then you yell at your kid for running up a
bill. The bully now has you literally doing the dirty work.
Think this is not a problem? Just yesterday the New Jersey State Senate unanimously passed a bill
to stem the tide of so-called, "cyber-bullying."
- Chat rooms. Have you heard of those? That's where you
sit behind a computer for hours writing messages back and forth with
people you don't even know. You can even do this now while playing
online, multiplayer games! You know what happens? You start
saying things you shouldn't. You start believing things you shouldn't.
Confidences are gained, pornographic pictures are exchanged, then suddenly
its LMIRL. There's goes another statistic.
- Public libraries. Do you think public libraries are safe?
Who here thinks public libraries are safe environments for their children?
Let's see, raise your hands. If your public library is effectively
controlled by the American Library Association, your children are in
danger of being raped or molested even if you turn your back on them
for a single second. Why? Pedophiles are attracted to the
unfiltered Internet access that allows them to drool all they want at
taxpayer expense. Sometimes those people act out and your child
happens to be in the right place at the right time, so far as they are
Why are libraries unfiltered? Didn't some law get passed requiring
libraries to use filters? Well, yes, and the US Supreme Court
found that law to be constitutional, but the American Library Association
still advises libraries not to use filtering unless they must.
They are essentially defying the law and the Court and, since they have
de facto control over so many libraries nationwide, both public
and public school, our children are in serious danger and it may be
the direct result of the American Library Association's refusal to accede
to community standards or the law.
As Debra Burlingame said, she's the wife of the downed
Pennsylvania 9-11 pilot, "I think people, when they get the right
information, do the right thing." [11 Mar 2006, WABC AM]
We all need to recognize the dangers of the Internet and do our part to
protect children. Here's what you can do, and I have handouts to
- Get your child off MySpace, severely restrict cell phone usage, prevent
IM usage, get blocking software for your computer, get software to spy
on your kid's computer usage, and for Pete's sake get the computer out
of the child's room. At a minimum, if your kid is doing any of
these things, you have to do it to so you learn what's what.
- Hear sad, personal stories at
- Learn about Internet use by kids so they cannot outsmart you at WiredSafety.org.
- Discuss safe Internet usage with your children at NetSmartz.org.
- Read these handouts:
- Read media accounts of Internet-related crimes in public libraries
and public schools at Plan2Succeed.org.
- Learn how the American Library Association pushes porn on children
- Public schools should have yearly, effective Internet usage agreements
where rules and consequences are clearly spelled out and, just as important,
the school itself has the authority to act appropriately upon violation
of those rules.
- Lastly, get active in your local communities to protect children.
For example, expose the ALA's influence over your public facilities,
then get directly involved in taking action to remove the ALA's influence
-- but be ready to be persistent -- the ALA has been at this for decades
and has routinized its response to so-called "censors" like
As Patrick Henry said all those years ago, "We are apt
to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that
siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise
men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty?"
Are we wise to close our eyes to how the Internet, pedophiles, and the
American Library Association endangers our children? As Patrick
Henry might say, we learned the whole truth about the dangers of the Internet,
the worst of this truth, and what can be done to stem the damage.
Now each of us, all of us, let's get out there and do something about
Mr. Contest Chair.
[This speech in its original
form drew complaints that the graphics and content intended for twelve
year olds was too jarring. So the above is the next major revision.
Kind of proves a point, huh?]