Friday, April 07, 2006

"The enemy has plans for your children..."

This ‘alert’ on the book I began reading a couple of days ago was never more graphically illustrated than by the story of Justin Berry:

The 13-year-old boy sat in his California home, eyes fixed on a computer screen. He had never run with the popular crowd and long ago had turned to the Internet for the friends he craved. But on this day, Justin Berry’s fascination with cyberspace would change his life.

Weeks before, Justin had hooked up a Web camera to his computer, hoping to use it to meet other teenagers online. Instead, he heard only from men who chatted with him by instant message as they watched his image on the Internet. To Justin, they seemed just like friends, ready with compliments and always offering gifts.

Now on an afternoon in 2000, one member of his audience sent a proposal: he would pay Justin $50 to sit barechested in front of his Webcam for three minutes...”

So begins the December 19, 2005 New York Times article by Kurt Eichenwald, "Through His Webcam A Boy Joins a Sordid Online World.”

Eichenwald goes on to detail Justin’s descent into internet pornography. It is not a pretty story. Thankfully, it has a happy ending. With Eichenwald’s help, Justin broke with his sordid online world and is this week testifying before a U.S. government committee investigating exploitation of children over the internet.

For links to a variety of articles related to this story, go to Stacy Harp’s Writing Right.

Don’t miss her 8-minute podcast snippet of Mr. Eichenwald’s testimony.

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