Of Porn, Principals and Yearbooks

Hi Readers! Allow me to direct you to my piece on ParentDish today (gotta spread the word beyond these pixels!): “Yearbook Blacks Out Kids’ Eyes for Fear of Porn Potential.”

And that’s really what it’s about: A principal in England ordered the students’ photos disfigured in the yearbook so that no one could cut and paste their innocent little heads onto child porn and post them on the Internet.

Talk about a pervert. Her! What kind of creep even THINKS like that?

And, in a related finding so new and surprising that I don’t even have an opinion about yet, this study came out today saying that in countries that decriminalize child porn, child abuse goes down!

We are living in a strange world. But you knew that. Off to disfigure my darlings’  photos (cause nothing says loving like Magic Markering black bars over their eyes) — Lenore

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44 Responses to Of Porn, Principals and Yearbooks

  1. BMS December 1, 2010 at 10:55 pm #

    I have never understood why FAKE pornography of any kind is a problem.

    I am reading a murder mystery right now, in which one of the main characters has flashbacks about being sexually abused as a child. Why is it ok to describe a fictional event in words, but if I made a realistic looking fake depiction of this same event, I am suddenly a pervert? Or am I already a pervert because (gasp) I read literature meant for adults?

    As for the yearbook, I don’t have the words. Something in the water in England these days.

  2. Jo December 1, 2010 at 11:07 pm #

    I think the study is another what do we want it to say study. It holds no other variables constant therefore is flawed data. For it to have any value they would have to figure out if the effects of changing a cultural norm. In other words legalizing child porn creates a cultural norm of it being acceptable. As such an abused child is less likely to report and people viewing signs of abuse are less likely to report. The likely end result is abuse goes up but reporting goes down.

    Then again we seem to live in a society that doesn’t value critical thinking so whatever. :(

    So far as the idiot, oh I mean principal, in England. If someone possesses mad cut and paste skills wouldn’t they be able to add the eyes back using the same process? To take a term from the Brits, what a twat!

    (Although twat does have the same meaning in England as America in this context it means idiot.)

  3. ninejacknine December 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    In your linked piece, you mention the case of Cabell County removing its swings because a child broke his arm and sued.

    It turns out the swings are staying:

    “Even though we have found the swings must remain at our schools, the issue of unlimited liability in legal actions against school systems statewide still exists. I believe our experience has shed a light on a question of law that must be addressed by our state’s legislative bodies. We still plan to meet with Sen. Evan Jenkins and state Board of Risk and Insurance Management (BRIM) officials to see what can be done to limit exposure to frivolous lawsuits.”

    (from http://www.herald-dispatch.com/breaking/x2109628886/Cabell-County-Schools-to-keep-swings-on-playgrounds)

  4. Dot Khan December 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

    Their effort to hide the kids faces was futile. If you look closely, you can make out their faces through the marker pen. 15 minutes with a cheap Photo editing program can restore their eyes. It can be done even quicker if they spent $700.00 on the full version of Photoshop, but this only will fuel their paranoia. Only the parents would have the yearbook anyway if this didn’t become a news story.

  5. mvb December 1, 2010 at 11:29 pm #

    somehow i don’t think the child’s eyes are what a pedophile would be focusing in on…. ?

  6. Nicole December 1, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

    Blacking out the eyes is weird. I, also, have no issues with 100% digitally produced images of anything, as long as I don’t have to see it and children aren’t exposed to it (as part of ‘grooming’ a child to be abused). It falls under freedom of speech. I would have issues with someone using a child’s real face, though I doubt that is preventable.

    I don’t think the study means much- there are too many variables. I will say, though, during the recent outrage over the “pedophile guidebook” I said something to the effect that I was much more upset at the moral outrage than I was with the actual publication (which was, like, a rare digital only publication that was destined to sell 12 copies, tops). Because the outrage would inevitably cause sales to shoot up, causing a rather sick individual to profit off of disgusting ideas. I ended up being right- before the protests it sold 1 copy, probably bought by the person who wrote it.

    I also said that I had a (now deceased) friend who use to argue that pedophilia is a mental disorder and harm reduction (allowing outlets for the thoughts/behaviors that harm no child) might be a good idea- not that I know if that’s true or not, but it was something she believed and I think it’s an interesting theory. However, apparently I should have kept my mouth shut, and I was basically attacked and called everything short of a child abuser for expressing a dear friend’s views.

    Apparently people want to feel outraged and indigent- they like feeling that moral rage.

  7. Cheryl W December 1, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    I wouldn’t pay for that.

    Furthermore, I would give my child a camera and invite the school to come to a park for a photo day so that everyone could take pics of everyone else for their own memories. And if a couple pervs showed up, who cares as long as they aren’t upskirting!

    Stupid.

  8. anonymousmagic December 1, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    I hope the students and parents boycott the yearbook en masse until the principal sees sense and has new ones made. Sure, eyeless kids are less attractive to pedophiles, but I doubt the yearbook is much more fun for the people it is intended for: parents, students and family.

    Besides, if a creep really wants to do what the principal fears, a little bit of marker pen isn’t going to stop them.

  9. Jen Connelly December 1, 2010 at 11:57 pm #

    I never got this paranoia over kids’ pictures being “out” there (as in on the internet, etc) because a pervert might use it for some nefarious reason like jerking off to it or whatever.

    Yeah, so? Is that harming you in some physical way? What difference does it make what someone is doing with your picture in the privacy of their home. Sure it’s sick but it doesn’t hurt you in any way. Shrug. Not to mention the people that think that way are so wrapped up in themselves and their kids that they think any pervert out there WILL target them. Please, talk about conceit, lol.

  10. Larry Harrison December 2, 2010 at 12:00 am #

    I’ve been observing this fear for years, going back even pre-9/11, when my sister had a cow when I put childhood photos of her & our granddaddy on my personal webpage (along with other photos of cousins etc–none of them complained). It was ridiculous. Those “personal web pages” of yore, simple HTML-based sites parked at the free webpage space a typical ISP gives you–you can easily still make them today–were, unlike a Facebook page, nearly impossible for anyone to even find. The only people who ever saw them were family-friends whom I’d give the URL to. The odds of someone random stumbling unto them would be as likely as you guessing someone’s phone number by randomly dialing any numerical sequence on a telephone.

    Yet, still, my sister had a cow when she saw it, and I was compelled to “black bar” her face.

    I do hobbyist photography, it’s a not a paid-for trade, but I do “put myself out there” soliciting business for families etc for extra money on the side. I’m very nice & polite, but I always make one requirement of them: that they not object to me using the photographs, online or in print, to showcase a portfolio to others of what I’m capable of. So, any “scardey cat” types, I simply won’t have anything to do with them at all.

    I haven’t had any objections yet anyway, but if one were to express that they thought it unprofessional that “you’re supposed to respect the customer’s wishes,” my simple reply is–not if I think the wishes are unreasonable.

    After all, although I consider myself a hobbyist, not a professional, I am trying to have a more regular inflow of such business (but not to the point it takes over my life & sucks all the fun out of it) and you have to have a portfolio to showcase what you can do to do so. Besides, I’m proud of what I do and naturally want to show it off, and if I’m so limited, I’d just rather pass on it & shoot photos which I can show off.

    It would be one thing if I were, say, the professionals who shot the weddings of Chelsea Clinton & Jenna Bush, those are special cases & those pros, I’m sure, have so much to show off one exception won’t matter. But these kids in Lenore’s story? C’mon now, these aren’t the granddaughters of a president, get over yourselves already.

    LRH

  11. Laura Vellenga December 2, 2010 at 12:08 am #

    yes, studies show that the eyes and upper forehead of small children are an errogenous zone. get rid of these and all will be well.

  12. Laura Vellenga December 2, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    the above was intended to be ironic, just in case i’m misinterpreted…

  13. Donna December 2, 2010 at 12:23 am #

    Who the hell would want a yearbook with the eyes blacked out? The only people generally interested in yearbooks are the students in them. Can you imagine how disappointed those kids were when they got theirs?

    How old are these kids? While I’ve seen some pictures of teens (usually celebrities) pasted on the bodies of naked adults (I have the misfortune of viewing too much kiddie porn at work), I fail to see the concern for younger children. The interest there is in the juvenile body so nobody would be superimposing the face of a 9 year old on a 18 year old body. It defeats the point and is so obviously photoshopped as to be laughable. So why would a pedophile take a piece of kiddie porn that already exists and photoshop it with a different child’s face (unless the child is a celebrity and there would be plenty of pictures available outside of the yearbook)? I assume that there could be the possibility of a pedophile who is attracted to a particular child who would do this but he’s likely to have some access to the child such that he could take his own picture.

  14. suzannerevy December 2, 2010 at 12:30 am #

    Photography is not a crime. Ugh. That principle has way too much time on her hands to fret about such nonsense.

    As an aside, my son’s middle school banned any picture taking at their monthly Friday night social. And if caught, they intended to confiscate the phone or camera and delete the pictures, which is frankly, illegal and I told them that. (Never mind that taking pictures in public is perfectly legal, and protected in the US by that pesky first amendment.) It’s a nice to take some snaps at parties, and I have found that his taken a few snaps at certain events has given my son a nice way to come out of his shell a little, and allowed him to be a bit more social. Something he struggles with.

    Of course, they banned the picture taking because some photos (or maybe a video) turned up on the internet showing… shall we say, less than age appropriate behavior. So, let’s ban the pictures and not deal with the behavior. Ugh…

    Sorry for the rant and hijack…

  15. SKL December 2, 2010 at 12:31 am #

    OK, sad, but the saddest part is that these ideas of neurotic people rub off on normal people.

    Yesterday I was buckling my kids into the car and the windows were getting steamed up, for the first time this year. Since my daughters are practicing writing their names nowadays, I thought it would be fun to write them on their windows with my finger. Just for an instant, I hesitated, thinking, “do I want random people knowing my kids’ names?” Then I shook it off and continued. What is the likelihood that bad guys are hiding out in the cold, dark Bob Evans parking lot, spying on clouded-up car windows, weighing their chances againt the Momma Bears, in the hopes of carrying off two tired, snotty-nosed preschoolers? And yet these ideas stick in our heads.

  16. ninejacknine December 2, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Here’s a link to an English newspaper article about the Hertfordshire school where this is happening.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1333454/Nativity-blackout-Parents-banned-taking-photos-pupils-eyes-covered–child-protection.html

    This really is as crazy as it sounds. There are a extra few details in the article, but they are in no way exculpatory: there is a policy of no photo taking by parents in the school or at school performances, and parents own children’s eyes were not blacked out in those yearbooks.

    This is a textbook case of casting suspicion on any interest in children because there is the tiniest chance it might not be innocent. I hope the parents succeed in overturning the policy.

  17. EricS December 2, 2010 at 1:15 am #

    That’s just a sick minded principal. Who thinks of stuff like that?! Oh yeah, pedophiles. One would have to wonder about this principal’s motives. Just looking at the pic in the article, with the 2 girls eyes blacked out, it actually looks even more perverted with the black outs. I’m officially disgusted by this principal.

    As for the study of legalizing pornography shows drop in sex crimes, my take, if there is some truth to it, it’s probably only because instead of being out committing the crimes, they are at home getting their jollies off with those pornographic materials. Regardless of what studies show, legalizing child porn is just WRONG.

  18. EricS December 2, 2010 at 1:23 am #

    @SKL: I hear you. The way I view it, is it doesn’t matter if my kid’s name is written right on his shirt for the world to see. He knows that regardless if people know his name or they claim to know his family members, if HE doesn’t know them he will keep his distance and inform his teacher (or any adults he does know). I trust him to do that. As long as he does what he’s been taught (which he does brilliantly), I have no fear or very little if at that.

  19. Matt December 2, 2010 at 1:55 am #

    This is insane. I digitally share photos with friends and family in a secure setting because I am uncomfortable just putting everything out there (I like my privacy thank you) why is that not an option here? What is the purpose of a yearbook with no faces?

  20. Matt December 2, 2010 at 2:01 am #

    suzannerevy, funny this topic had come up with friends getting married recently. They are public figures and had hired a team of photojournalists to document and share the evening. It was odd at first but actually a lot of fun to interact with people without a million annoying cameras. And the pictures were sent the next day and were amazing.

    I hope that your son continues to grow in confidence and maybe he will pick up photography as a great hobby. You might ask that he become “the official” event photographer to recognize his special interest and give everyone a nice remembrance of the event.

  21. pentamom December 2, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    Why are they even publishing a yearbook, then?

    Why not just not have a yearbook, rather than going to all the trouble of publishing a COMPLETELY WORTHLESS one?

  22. Brenna December 2, 2010 at 3:57 am #

    This is rather insane about the yearbook photos although I think it is not quite the same as having these pictures on the internet.

    Personally, aside from pedophiles I was more concerned that people my husband ran with when he was younger would know what our children look like. Not the most savory people I might mention (Not perverts, simply manipulative and mentally unstable) and he no longer associates with them (his choice, long before we met). So I was adamantly against having our children on myspace or facebook and so was he.

    Then the sister’s in law decided they knew better and one of them was trading the pictures to the very people my husband did not want to have pictures of the children, to gain social status. Made all the more pathetic by the fact that these were not exactly elite people. So we stopped letting several people have access to pictures.

    As to the study, well statistics can be manipulated so easily… But I suppose they could not really know how it would turn out without allowing cartoon kiddie porn to be legal. I would only support that if they cracked down very severely on the live action sort. As in, never see the light of day again for pictures of anyone under 16 if the person in possession is over five years older than the subject.

  23. Sky December 2, 2010 at 6:05 am #

    ] “I have never understood why FAKE pornography of any kind is a problem. I am reading a murder mystery right now, in which one of the main characters has flashbacks about being sexually abused as a child. Why is it ok to describe a fictional event in words, but if I made a realistic looking fake depiction of this same event, I am suddenly a pervert”

    Well, there’s a difference between recounting a scene of sexual abuse for the sake of establishing a traumatic and presumably unnerving point in a fictional character’s life and creating pictures using kid’s bodies for the express purpose of wacking off to, don’t you think? Kiddie porn laws tend to focus on the stuff that is used for, sold for, or distributed for wacking off to and – yes – selling, distributing, or using fake pictures of young kids for that purpose absolutely makes a person a pervert.

    That said, I don’t think the yearbook pictures are going to be used that way, and, even if they are, it won’t actually harm the kids (especially if they don’t know about it) and the perverts can be dealt with as perverts.

    But blacked out eyes are a good excuse for not having to buy one of those $50 year books.

    This principal sounds like a nutcase.

  24. Sky December 2, 2010 at 6:09 am #

    (As for whether perversion should be outlawed if it is not directly hurting another person, that is another question entirely; but as to whether or not consuming fake kiddie porn makes a person a pervert, the answer is yes. Getting off on images of prepubescent kids is perverted.)

  25. ebohlman December 2, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    The article describing the porn study was highly misleading; you had to dig deep to find out that none of the countries had actually legalized “child pornography” in any sense of the term that an ordinary person would understand. I’m pretty sure that what they’re actually talking about is Japanese anime featuring teenagers. I’m not aware of any country that actually removed prohibitions on depictions of real children in sexual situations.

  26. Gina December 2, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    Uh, what’s the point of a yearbook?

  27. Jeannette December 2, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    The only ones gaining access to these yearbooks would be the children, their friends, and their parents; we don’t want kids’ parents becoming aroused by little Suzy’s classmates! What in the world is wrong with some people. If the book was beind sold at Barnes & Noble, okay, black the eyes. Additionally, doesn’t such behavior defeat the purpose of a yearbook anyway?

  28. owen59 December 2, 2010 at 8:04 pm #

    Ah, yes, the principal looks at the cuteness of the child, feels the cuteness of the child, becomes fearful of their own attraction and bada bing bada bang.. it all gets externalised and blown out of proportion. The child is supposed to be attractive. We just have to know how to manage our emotions around their cuteness, to be fair to them. It is very important to love children. That means to feel a bond, even to strange children. To feel protective. To fell generous. To feel righteous (old word but says a lot about the caring discipline often needed for children in community). Principals of anyone should know how important all this is for a child’s education.

  29. su N December 2, 2010 at 11:31 pm #

    I am gonna disagree here. I think child porn being illegal is a good thing, if we provide the needed help to the offenders. If we stopped just fining and jailing the offenders then we might get somewhere. It seems obvious to make the connection that if you are looking at little kids and getting sexually excited, then you probably need some psychiatric help.

    My solution would be to get them the help they need and delve into the deeper (and more difficult) issue of treating the offender and not just jailing them.

    Ummm maybe we could put the principal through one of these programs because I really gotta wonder about someone who sees potential for porn in a yearbook picture.

  30. su N December 2, 2010 at 11:42 pm #

    Hmmm, the more I think about it the more I wonder why the parents arn’t complaining to the school board? Oh how they would dread the sound of my name if this were my child’s principal.

    This person is given authority over children? Faced with a REAL potential pervert in charge of the children, are people actually going along with it?

    If we want to talk fear and protection, it is more likely a child will be harmed by an authority figure they know than a stranger, so who is the problem here?

  31. pentamom December 2, 2010 at 11:51 pm #

    What I want to know is, was this decision made before or after the orders were placed and the books were prepaid?

    If after, anyone who bought and paid for a yearbook that had actual faces in it should demand a refund. The contract for what was ordered is being violated here. The yearbook producer should either insist that they are required to honor the original contract (in the form of individual orders of actual, useful yearbooks) or refund the money. If the principal wants to confiscate the yearbooks and deface them with a sharpie, he should pay for them all himself.

  32. pentamom December 2, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    IOW, it seems to me that having the recognizable faces of the students is a sine qua non of a yearbook — if you can’t visually identify the faces of the kids, it loses all value and function as yearbook. It would be about as appropriate as charging someone for a yearbook and sending them dictionaries.

  33. Tracie December 3, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    Wow. How did we get from “it’s wrong and harmful a child to be sexually exploited” (duh) to “any photographic representation of innocent childhood is better withheld or defaced than possibly viewed by any adult who may have once had a sexual thought”? I’m surprised people are still allowed to take their kids out in public – I mean, they don’t allow background checks to shop at Safeway – what if some pervert walks past your kid in the frozen foods aisle? Maybe we should start making them wear burkas?

    Meanwhile, sexual violence against women is a daily reality.

    Coincidentally, I am currently manning (momming?) the yearbook at my elementary school and I created a Facebook page to promote sales. We have zillions of great pictures, way too many to include in a 56-page book, and I’d love to post some of them on the FB page, but I know paranoid parents would have a fit. Nevermind that anyone could buy a copy of the yearbook and look at the pictures all they want, or just drive through the parking lot at dismissal time and see the kids in person…

  34. Nicola December 3, 2010 at 1:18 am #

    I think if you have someone who thinks this way, they shouldn’t be allowed to work around kids any more than the person that actually IS a pedophile and wants to be fruity with kids.

    This is way beyond asinine. I simply can’t comprehend why or how someone could think they were honestly helping kids by trying to insulate them from everything. It’s no wonder English and American kids seem to have these angsty chips on their shoulders – they’re not allowed to do anything at all because they’re kids, but act out more than a little and suddenly you’re an adult with the potential to be locked up for life.

    Fear has swallowed these two cultures and is slowly creeping into others. We’re going to turn ourselves into Weebles yet, you just watch.

  35. Anna December 3, 2010 at 6:47 am #

    Why would anyone want a yearbook with censored faces?

  36. Beth December 4, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    Jeannette, are you saying that all books at Barnes and Noble that contain photos or depictions of children should have the eyes blacked out? Because it kind of sounds like that’s what you’re saying.

  37. Lihtox December 4, 2010 at 9:11 am #

    Quite possibly the principal is a pedophile, in the same way that many anti-homosexuality crusaders are themselves attracted to their own gender. But one should not confuse pedophile with child molester: pedophilia is a fetish, and people don’t choose what turns them on. My guess is that there are many more pedophiles out there than we realize, but most of them are able to restrain their urges, just as most of us are able to restrain our own sexual urges when we meet someone we find attractive. Child molesters are reprehensible; pedophiles are to be pitied and helped. Too bad most of them are probably too scared for their reputations to seek out the help they need.

    Maybe if we decriminalized fake child porn, we would see the rise of photorealistic computer animation good enough to put the real child pornographers out of business. There would be nothing bad about that, as long as I don’t have to see any of it that is. (I’m not a pedophile myself, but I do have fetishes I’d be embarrassed for others to know about, and I thank God none of them are immoral or illegal.)

  38. http://www.hhikaye.org December 5, 2010 at 10:52 am #

    Erotik

  39. john December 5, 2010 at 6:21 pm #

    that’s life …..what goes around comes around…!!!

  40. lonedattyof3 December 6, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    I don’t care how many links you send me, I will never believe that the yearbook thing is not a hoax.

  41. pentamom December 8, 2010 at 1:36 am #

    I think Jeannette means that if a yearbook with all kinds of identifying information about the kids were to be sold publicly, blacking the faces might make sense.

    Of course selling yearbooks or other books identifying groups of specific children in general bookstores is an absurd scenario, but I think that’s what she meant — such an absurd response would only be necessary in an unrealistic situation.

  42. john December 31, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    Child porn possession should be decriminalized; simply looking at a picture – no matter what it depicts – does not harm anyone, and as the study linked to indicates, child sex crimes have decreased in countries which legalized child porn possession.

    And every dollar and every minute spent going after someone who hasn’t harmed anyone is time and money that could have been used to punish those who actually do abuse children, or perhaps prevent it from happening in the first place….

    One more idea: if those who look at such images were not forced to hide out of fear of being punished (in a way that totally destroys their lives and harms those they care about), they would be able to report it if they came across someone that was hurting a child.

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