Friday, December 9, 2011

A Trip to Hastings Exposes 5 Year Old to Porn

I took my original post down to do some editing. Well it is no longer here, so I had to rewrite the entire thing.  Below are the events that happened.

We went to Hastings Entertainment on Tuesday, December 6th for our weekly movie trip. Hastings in Lawton has a great selection of Christian/Family/Kids movies. Plus the 2 free kids movies at a time is a bonus to keep us coming back. We got our movies and I decided I was going to purchase a book I've been wanting by Dr. Laura Schlessinger "The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage." I had looked at the book the week before, but decided to wait until now to purchase it.
The book was located on the wall in the "marriage/relationship" section. I knew the book was near the area with "sexuality" which was also on the wall. Along the aisle bookshelf was "parenting/education/family" and there was a small sitting area with 2 chairs in the middle of all of it, but they were far enough from the wall if a book of 18+ nature was being previewed by another customer or facing outward they couldn't see it. Luckily, no one else was in the area and all those books were placed with the spines facing outward.
 I told my older two children ages 5 & 3 to sit in the chairs, I had my 2 year old in the cart. I was just going to walk over to the wall, locate the book then leave. As I was locating the book, my 5 year old says "mom look at this naked girl." I turn and see my 5 year old son holding a SWANK Magazine. He said it was in the chair! 
{"Swank is a pornographic magazine for heterosexual men published in the United States. It includes hardcore sex, such as the use of sex toys, lesbian sex, and sexual intercourse between men and women."  Source Wikipedia}
I was very upset! I asked to speak with the store manager. The store manager apologized and explained they try to prevent this type of thing from happening by walking the departments every 30-45 minutes to put away lost items and check for mature content being left out. She explained the store policy is to not allow it to be looked at in the store and they put them in special bags. I asked "why aren't they behind a counter or in a special room?"  According to the store manager it's the corporate office that sets up the store policies and the layout of the stores. As a courtesy, I was given free movie rentals because I've become a regular there, where the cashiers are starting to know me.
As any concerned mother would do, I called the corporate office and I more or less got the same response: "I'm sorry. We try to prevent it." When I made a suggestion about doing more to prevent it from happening again, I was told "I'll pass that along to that department."  Which translates to me "I'll mention it, but we may not do anything about it."
I called our attorney to find out what are the laws. There is NO law that requires pornographic magazines to be covered or placed in bags. There is NO law that requires them to be placed in an area that's off limits to children.  So legally Hastings Entertainment did "nothing" wrong, but morally they did.
The night after it happened our son ended up with a migraine. So the next day we took him to the pediatrician. We explained his symptoms of the migraine and any stresses he'd had. He's a child with ADHD/ODD and very "high strung." So we showed the pediatrician the pictures I took of the cover of the magazine along with the texts to my husband. She examined him and decided it was either allergies or stress that caused the migraine. She decided to go with allergies because he was showing signs of an allergic reaction to something. However, if the migraines come back with high stress then we will know the actual cause. His pediatrician is the best I have ever met, AND SHE'S ACTIVE DUTY! (All the military wives will understand what I mean there.)
 What is the purpose of this blog?
  1. To inform others to be VERY careful when going into bookstores.
  2. To inform others that if your kid sees pornography, the bookstores are not legally liable and there is no protection in place besides what the stores deem appropriate. 
  3. To get the word out that things need to change.... laws or store policies need to be better to protect children.
I was raised to do my best. To evaluate my best and improve it however possible. To "try" was to allow an excuse for failure. Excuses are not an option. If they had done more preventable measures then it wouldn't be such a difficult subject.

What's the problem?
Even though it was just a brief encounter, he still remembers it. His mind will remember those images for years to come. It will require more effort on my husband and I to teach him the harms and shamefullness of pornography. The dangers on the development of children after viewing pornography is well documented and a summary is available at Protect Kids.  For a more in depth study see "The Harms of Pornography Exposure Among Children and Young People" from La Trobe University, Australia.  More studies are listed on the Porn Harms website.

Could they have done better? YES!
  1. Put all 18+ content in a "behind the curtain room" where the contents are monitored and purchased before being taken into the main part of the store
  2. Put blacked out covers for 18+ with just the Title, Articles, and Issue information for people to be able to request the magazine from behind the counter.
  3. Put all 18+ content in a section of the store where they must purchase the item to leave the area.
 I will be contacting Senators, Congressmen, and State level representatives to put into place a better system to protect children from the harms of view pornography, even by accident. I would hope that whoever reads this would also contact their legislative leaders to request better standards for the selling of such horrendous material.

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