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Hollywood scandals ignite a call to expose 'unfruitful works of darkness'


As parents and grandparents, we should be deeply saddened by the horrific Sean “Diddy” Combs and Nickelodeon scandals emerging from the entertainment industry. While watching broadcasts riddled with allegations of sex trafficking and sexual assault alleged against music mogul Combs, and reported accounts of sexual assault and a toxic studio culture on the set of classic Nickelodeon children's TV shows unfold, I can’t help but think of the words Paul wrote to the early church in Ephesus: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11, ESV). Among other “unfruitful works”, Paul was specifically addressing the sexual immorality with which the Ephesians struggled. It is widely accepted that Paul wrote those words around 60 A.D., and centuries later, we are still battling the evil of sexual immorality in our society especially as it relates to our children.

Children are bombarded with sexually explicit material through literature, fashion, advertisement, video games, social media, music, television and the vast unregulated internet. As children are increasingly exposed to toxic sexual content, they become desensitized and more vulnerable to the dangers of sexual exploitation. According to JAMA 2020 analysis of 37 studies, exposure to violent pornography increases a child’s odds for experiencing sexual exploitation by nearly 3 times.

Unknowingly, children can become encircled in a continuous cycle of abuse. As exposure becomes more intense and the images more graphic, the potential for the child to be exploited through child sexual abuse images, pornography, trafficking, or other forms of sexual exploitation increases.

While April is “Child Sex Abuse Prevention Month,” we must be hypervigilant every day because everywhere, countless children as young as infants are being sexually violated, raped and exploited. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 20 boys in the U.S. experience child sexual abuse. These numbers likely underestimate the severity of the problem as children don’t often report sexual abuse. Further, the CDC says someone known and trusted by the child, or a child’s family member, perpetrates 91% of child sexual abuse.

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Our hearts go out to the children and families embroiled in these recent scandals but do not be deceived. This evil does not exist in a vacuum; It does not only exist in Hollywood; and certainly, it does not only happen to someone else’s child. The reality is sexual predators can be anyone and anywhere, and they are seeking out our children. They exist in every corner of this country and can come from all walks of life, socio-economic backgrounds, education levels, and professions. It is critical for each of us to understand the dangers children face every day. Educate yourself, your children, and your grandchildren, not only of the threat of sexual exploitation but also of common-sense preventative measures to prevent youth from falling victim to this evil.

As difficult as it can be, we as parents and grandparents have a duty to stay on top of the issues and become the first line of defense to protect the innocence of the children in our lives. Our children's emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual well-being depends on us; that's why God gave kids parents as a sacred stewardship. Discussing healthy and unhealthy sexual behavior with children can be difficult, and uncomfortable even; but it is imperative that you have ongoing, open, and honest conversations with your children. Know the warning signs, what motivates a predator, how they think, how they interact with children, and how to keep your children safe.

Donna Rice Hughes is Enough Is Enough's CEO and President.

Dean Grigg is Director of Government Relations and former Deputy Attorney General in South Carolina.

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