Some of you reading this right now may be wondering who Amber Cole is, and some of you may be very familiar with her story. But what we all have in common is that while we may not know this young woman personally, we all have an Amber Cole in our lives. To bring you up to speed here is a summary of the story:
Amber Cole is a 14 yr old girl in Baltimore who was performing $exual acts on a young man while someone recorded it. That person or persons then went on to upload the video online and it went viral. The story became a trending topic on Twitter and the video has been hosted on several websites and blogs. Because of the ages of both parties involved it is considered child pornography. While the federal authorities have gotten involved, Amber’s name and reputation has been torn apart.
The purpose of my post today is not to get into the details of the story…there are several different versions of how Ms. Cole got to be in this predicament. However the one verifiable fact is that she is 14 years old. Legally and in the world of common sense, she is not old enough to consent allowing the video to be made or posted online. What have we become as a community when this type of video of a minor is posted publicly and ridiculed by what are supposed to be adults? What I find more disturbing than the video is the reaction and comments that I have read from what are supposed to be adults. By labeling her a whore, fast, making jokes, and creating YouTube rap songs that further denigrate her sends a message to all of our girls that they have no value to the world. Behavior that should be shunned and corrected has become entertainment. The internet is not a bathroom stall, the images and words posted cannot be erased with a good coat of primer. This will follow her all of her life, long after the wisdom from this lesson is prayerfully deeply ingrained in her mind.
What we all need to accept and come to understand is that more children are born into single mother households than ever before. Studies show that girls that have strong relationships with their fathers wait longer to have their first sexual experience and tend to make better choices. The rampant lack of consistent, positive male role models in our daughters’ lives leaves them vulnerable to making poor choices, and easy prey for people with everything but the best intentions in mind. It is very easy to click on a link and shake our head at today’s trending topic then close the window. But if you look around at the young girls in your own family it is important to realize that this can happen to them. And if by chance it is not your daughter, sister, or cousin understand that it could be her best friend. Between mainstream media and popular culture, our children today are oversexualized and desensitized. What was once taboo and scary has become the new normal. Social mores and lines have faded. Where truth once gave boldness to our actions, immaturity has stepped in.
As a community we should be collectively surrounding her and outraged that two of our children who clearly are not fully capable of making any life altering choices were blasted across the internet for all the world and pedophiles to see. The images have been posted on blogs that make money from advertising and amount of traffic to their site. Two of our children are being exploited and one of them branded for life by people who are only interested in making money.
This story should be used as a teachable moment for our sons and daughters. Use this as an opportunity to begin a dialogue with your teens and preteens about sexting, online persona, accountability, and the importance of standing up when someone is being wronged.