0:00:00 – Speaker 1
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0:00:31 – Speaker 2
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0:00:35 – Speaker 3
Today, we’re talking about how we can all play a part in the fight to end sexual exploitation. Man, that is a big mission right there. You guys may remember, in 2018, we went to Washington DC to a conference with the National Center for Sexual Exploitation the global summit that they did. We learned so much, first of all, and we made a lot of contacts. Since then, we have been part of their preventative task force. It’s called the Safeguard Alliance, made up of a lot of global organizations that are on the preventative side of sexual exploitation. But today we have a guest from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, because they do a lot more than just the preventative piece that we are a part of. We want to talk about their big mission and really how they are changing the world. Jake Robertson is here. He is the Creative Director and PR Manager. Jake, welcome to the show.
0:01:35 – Speaker 4
Thanks for having me. I’m glad to be here.
0:01:37 – Speaker 1
Tell us a little bit about yourself before we dive in here.
0:01:41 – Speaker 4
Sure You already talked about what I do with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, but that is what I’ve done for several years now in other organizations. That spent half a decade leading digital, creative and social media marketing at a nonprofit called Focus on the Family, and so I’ve just really poured myself and my career into learning what it means to connect people through causes and the organizations that fight these causes, and how we best connect on that human level and bring people together to affect change.
I love that And then, you know, on a personal level, you know, i’ve been married over almost 11 years now And my wife and I have four young kids nine, seven, five and three. So we’re in the thick of this parenting thing ourselves and figuring out what it looks like to raise a family and to raise, you know, kids and to adults who can operate in, you know, sort of this new world that has been created for them.
0:02:39 – Speaker 3
And so I, you know I had a career as a parent and I love when I, when we meet other organizations that you know, like our world changers, like here you are, you’ve poured your life into working at Focus on the Family and now National Center on Sexual Exploitation, which, in short, is called NACOCI Right, that’s how you pronounce that. And here you are saying you know you’ve poured your life into this and you’re saying it’s a whole new world as a parent.
0:03:04 – Speaker 1
And I think that’s you see it through a different lens once you’re parenting it, don’t you?
0:03:09 – Speaker 4
Oh yeah, for sure, because you know so much of we know about humanity and human thinking and self-focused. But kids force a different lens on us. We can’t afford to be so navel-gazing as we could maybe get away with accidentally before having kids. Not that kids are the only way of forcing that, but they’re such a powerful and incontainous way of forcing that lens on us as human beings and making us think about what kind of role we’re called. Are we shaping for the next generation? You know, those thoughts don’t come naturally to us and parenting is a pretty powerful way of pushing us there.
0:03:48 – Speaker 3
Well, and so many times I just want to go live on a remote island because it’s just so overwhelming. It’s overwhelming right as a parent And you just want to bubble wrap and you’re like I don’t want my kid to see this world. But you know, i’ve got a 15 year old and a 12 year old and they’ve seen their fair share way more than I knew when I was a kid, absolutely. And you know, we found it just extremely important on this preventative piece to have that healthy dialogue, that open communication where we’re constantly talking to them about the difficult subjects And that’s not easy to get them to open up.
0:04:23 – Speaker 4
No, it’s not, But it’s the only thing that we can do, because, as much as the temptation to isolate them, to get away from it all is powerful and pretty attractive, you know, it’s just not realistic And it’s not helpful. And you know, because what are we meant to do? What are we meant to run away? and just you know, take care of ourselves or to push into people and community and take care of others. And I think it’s the latter and we can’t do that really well if we’re kind of creating this isolationist mindset in our kids. And so I think just the fact that parents continue to push in, that we wake up each and every day and try again, through the failures, through the mess, you know that’s one of the biggest examples we can set for our kids is that, no matter how crazy this world gets, no matter how tempted we are to remove ourselves or to be discouraged, that we keep going back into the fray with them, with others, day after day.
0:05:17 – Speaker 1
I love how you put that. It’s kind of a summary of our mission, but kind of returning back to Nicosia. In our experience with going to the Global Summit, we deal with these subjects every day and others, and we were in shock after this summit. There were things we learned that we hadn’t heard about in technology, beyond what we had an understanding of, and so we left with more of a fire for what we do, and I can only imagine the same goes for you. But we want to share that a little bit with our listeners how we can all play a part in fighting to insexual exploitation, which I think is a good place for us to start. Maybe you can define exactly. What does that even mean?
0:05:59 – Speaker 4
Well, it’s as broad and as succinct as saying that sexual exploitation is any actual or attempted abuse of a position of vulnerability, differential power and trust, and or trust for sexual purposes.
So that can look like child sexual abuse, that can look like sex trafficking, like prostitution. Even the pornography industry is built on these abuses and attempted abuses of power and trust and vulnerability. So it’s everything from that abuse of a child to the trafficking of humans And again even into the porn and prostitution industries, where there are so many examples, nearly the examples of how these industries use power, these trust or abuse of trust, to trick people into being exploited, to manipulate people into being exploited. I mean, you can look at, there’s a lawsuit right now where almost two dozen women are exposing how this pornography company tricked and manipulated and coerced them into appearing in pornographic content, and so that’s an example, just one of many examples of ways that these industries that we don’t have maybe historically thought of as sexual exploitation because they try so hard to position themselves with libertarian and free speech and all that, but they’re actually exploiting people sexually.
0:07:32 – Speaker 3
I think that’s a trend that I see often is the free speech here and coming up against that. Well, we have the right to produce a video with two people having sex if they want to. But I think what correct me if I’m wrong a lot of the research and work that you guys are doing are showing in a lot of times, most cases, it is that manipulative factor that is happening. It’s not really two people wanting to do that, or it’s a mindset that’s been manipulated, or like a picture that’s been painted of a great lifestyle that’s not actually going to be a great career path.
0:08:14 – Speaker 4
Right. yeah, we strongly believe that pornography exploits both the performers and the viewers, because the performers are very dubious, what amount of content is involved, and oftentimes it’s even qualifying as sex trafficking victims and their bodies are being commoditized and abused on the job. that’s very normal. But then on the viewers side, the research shows that pornography has led to shifts in the neurological and psychological development of viewers of any age, especially those that are exposed to children, and how that affects their physical and psychological and neurological development. And so, just across the board, it’s a form of sexual exploitation, from those that are performing in it and those that are viewing it.
0:08:59 – Speaker 1
You know, as Mandy mentioned before, we’re more on the preventative side of this. What really is the mission for Nicosi? What is it that you all are hoping to do in changing this world?
0:09:12 – Speaker 4
Yeah, so we see ourselves as being dedicated to the eradication of sexual abuse and exploitation in all of its forms And as such, we look at the broad range of these exploitative industries and how they’re interconnected with one another so that we can come up and advocate for and create allies in the fight against exploitation across the board.
Because what happens in the fight is that there’s a lot of siloing where there’s individualized and specialized sectors of these networks and resources, and they’re doing really good work, but a lot of what gets missed is the intersectionality of the abuse and exploitation issues between these industries, and so what we do is we want to educate and unite all these different silos of work, as well as the general public, and then mobilize us as a movement towards making corporate and legislative change that actually undercuts and pulls the plug, economically, legally, at corporate levels, on the money and the laws that enable and oftentimes even benefit these exploitative industries. So, beyond just the preventative, we want to unite the movement to cut off sexually exploitative industries at the needs. So everything’s important to prostitution and all these in demand and all how all these things feel, child abuse and other forms of sexual abuse. So we’re looking at that holistic picture in order to take on the industry as a whole.
0:10:49 – Speaker 3
One thing I learned at the global summit was, you know, in my mind, sex traffic is a child gets kidnapped, right and then they get sold into sex. The one thing that I just hadn’t thought about when we went to the global summit was kids being sex trafficked from their bedrooms. So they’re you know, and that was presented in a way, and then actually we’ve had some cases pop up with our nextTalk organization where you know we’re seeing the manipulation that’s happening behind the scenes. You know where kids are on these platforms like roblox or something like that, and you know the profile picture pops up and it looks like a 12 year old kid that they’re communicating with, but it’s really literally a sex trafficking pimp and they’re trying to establish that relationship. They’re trying to get the kid to do something bad, you know, like say an F word or say he hates his parents or whatever.
Catch them in a situation where then it’s like you got to send me a picture of yourself naked. You know it’s that. It’s that form of manipulation where it literally could evolve into a kid being trafficked from their bedroom. Like turn on your webcam every night from this time to this time, or I’m going to text your parents these pictures that you’ve now sent me. And I think that is where the preventative piece is so important, because we got to be talking to our kids and we also have to be the place that if they do accidentally send something, they don’t get caught up in that manipulation. You know, if they send a nude photo, that they feel comfortable coming to us and saying mom, i did this, it was the wrong thing, but they can see the manipulation taking place. I think that’s such a great piece of the preventative that the global summit really brought it together in my mind for that absolutely, and it’s such a huge point for parents to be aware of that.
0:12:46 – Speaker 4
This happened, like you said, on forums for things like Roblox. It happened on Instagram and Snapchat. You know we’ve met with, you know, young teenagers, 15 year old, survivors of trafficking in Washington DC, and they showed us their Instagram accounts and how they’re getting dozens of unsociated messages from adult men every week and from these cute boy accounts and other examples. You know there’s many different ways that you know these traffickers, these explorers, try to get in and then blackmail them into this, and so there’s the preventative piece with the parents.
But something big we’re working on to be a resource to parents and hopefully help make this fight easier for parents is actually a push right now called six app ratings, because one of the big problems that we have with these forums or with these apps like Snapchat and Instagram you know now TikTok is that there is no accountability for the tech companies that are making these apps more for Google or Apple and their app stores.
That forces them to accurately rate and a, you know, segment off their apps for younger users, because our laws are outdated and give immunity to these tech companies and so these apps are rated for kids you know that are way too young to understand how to be using them properly and to be stewarding them properly.
And then there’s and then when these app and then the tech companies themselves have no reason to build in, you know the right as far as their financial incentives or legal incentives to build in protection for the kids that are on their apps, and so you have, you know apps like Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram and TikTok that these really young kids are using and open themselves up to sex distortion and pornography and sex trafficking and stuff like that, and there’s nothing you know parents right now can do to put any of that pressure or accountability. And so we’re working with several allies and you can check it out at sixappradingscom but we’re working to create legislation that will force better accountability for these tech companies so that they actually have to put in the effort to better protect kids from this, the very type of sex distortion and trafficking that you were describing. We think that that will help parents have another tool in their toolbox as they help raise kids to avoid the stuff and to become defenders of human rights.
0:15:19 – Speaker 1
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0:15:44 – Speaker 2
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0:16:16 – Speaker 3
We have Jake Robertson here with the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. We covered a lot of stuff in the beginning. We were just talking about the Fixed App Ratings campaign. This is why I love what you guys are doing, because I saw this come together as a collaborative effort with the preventative side, the Safeguard Alliance. One thing we were seeing is on these apps, my kid could be playing a 9 plus app that I vetted and I feel like it’s safe, but it pops an ad with literally it was two men in bed together. I started doing screenshots and sending them to Dawn, which is your coworker over there. That’s what I love about what you guys are doing. She took it seriously and was like we got to add in the ad component and make sure that it gets fixed too is because you guys are listening to all of the people that you’re bringing together and making sure we’re fixing the right thing. I love that about you guys and your mission.
0:17:14 – Speaker 1
You’re kind of the umbrella I think that’s the way you described it in visual form. It’s an umbrella that you guys bring everyone together so we can make the biggest impact both before and after exposure.
0:17:28 – Speaker 3
You mentioned, now that we’re on Fixed App Ratings, you mentioned Instagram a while ago. I think that you guys recently had a meeting with Instagram and I would love to hear more about that.
0:17:38 – Speaker 4
In July, we were actually able to meet with some policy executives at Instagram and we brought along some of our friends from Courtney’s house, which is a drop-in center for sex trafficking in Washington DC.
They came with us so that we could share these concerns about grooming for sexual abuse and sex trafficking and child pornography that are, unfortunately, pretty prevalent on Instagram.
The good news is that, while there is still much work to be done, we were really encouraged by the amount of care and concern that Instagram voiced over these issues. While we were meeting with them, there were some really exciting opportunities for continued dialogue about digital safety and well-being, as well as working on collaborative and survivor-informed solutions that we think could be implemented, and that they were very encouraging of and gave us a lot of hope for the work that can be done. In fact, there are still some things that I can’t go into all the details right now as things are being hammered out, but we’re still working with them directly. As a result of that meeting, we’re really encouraged by the amount of care and importance that they’re placing on these issues, Very excited about that and about the opportunities for not only the policy at a legislative level, but also at this corporate level of working with these companies and pushing them to be more accountable and proactive in this fight, rather than reactive and just caring about their PR.
Yeah, that’s so encouraging.
0:19:08 – Speaker 3
I love that you’re tackling it from all aspects. You’re tackling it from the corporate side, like getting in there at these organizations, but also from a, like you said, a legal aspect of it. Let’s get some more laws in place to make sure our kids are a little safer.
0:19:22 – Speaker 4
Right? yeah, because we do it in many other ways, and rightly so, to protect our kids from harmful products, and so you know it’s really a tragedy that it’s taken us so long to see that, in the age of the internet and online access like that, our kids need to be, you know we need to protect them from certain aspects of it. They’re just not capable of being able to manage it. It’s hard enough for adults, and so why do we pretend like they don’t need any safeguards in this arena when we believe that they do when it comes to their physical safety elsewhere? It’s the same thing.
0:19:56 – Speaker 3
It’s like teaching them to drive a car. Teaching them to be online is like teaching them to drive a car And it literally has to start years before you give that kid a phone. You have to be having the conversations, But I love what we’re doing. I don’t want to get on the preventative piece because I talk about that all the time. That’s my passion, and so I want to stay focused on what you’re doing, because this is just fascinating to me. I’m in awe of what y’all are doing.
0:20:19 – Speaker 1
Yeah, it’s exciting. Jake, tell us a little bit more about the dirty dozen. That’s something that y’all put out every year.
0:20:26 – Speaker 4
Yeah, that’s right.
So it really springsboard off of that conversation with Instagram and that, you know, in our world, corporations drive so much of our culture and they influence how people communicate, how people dress, the kind of information we receive, and so we truly believe that when companies make positive changes that stop the promotion, or you know, of sexual exploitation in any form, that it has a huge ripple effect that influences countless lives.
So, with the dirty dozen, what we do is we recognize that there are many well-established brands and corporations in America that do facilitate or profit from sexual exploitation show.
Starting in two thousand thirteen, we came up with the annual dirty dozen, but that is our way of publicly calling out the mainstream players in america that a perpetrating sexual exploitation, whether that’s through pornography or prostitution, sexual objectification, sexual violence or sex trafficking.
So the dirty dozen with an activism tool that gives power back to individuals just like you and me, and mom and dad and grandpa and grandma and aunt and uncle, and across the u-s and what to look at the culture. And so, uh, what we do is we put together the dirty dozen with and then we put together for each member on the list, uh, set of actions that they take everything from email to social media to phone calls and things like that, and what we’ve seen is thousands of people united in targeting these corporations such as google uh helping worldwide for rising wal-mart, even the department of defense and seeing real change uh impacted at these corporations are are inundated with messages and uh again, specific policy. We’ve seen them actually, you know, make their company less exploited and put in policies in place that protect people that’s awesome.
0:22:23 – Speaker 3
One other thing i wanted to ask you about specifically because we’re running out of time and i feel like there’s so much we could cover here. Uh, this past spring you guys also dida child on child sexual abuse conference and kind of brought together researchers, and can you tell us a little bit about that? because we are seeing an increase in that and other preventative organizations that we work with are also seeing an increase and we think it’s it always. It’s typically linked to pornography, like an early exposure kid and they watch it so much and then they want to act it out and brothers and sisters and friends are around and then we’re seeing this huge rise in it in in good families, like good solid families. This is happening in sometimes and can you talk about that? today conference we we’ve only got a couple minutes left, but can you tell us about that a little bit?
0:23:17 – Speaker 4
sure, yeah, and so in march we get a national symposium on confronting this ride on child on child harmful sexual behavior, and so we brought together, in collaboration with the national catholic school social service, and there was over three hundred fifty people that came is great, and uh, the idea is that uh, but again, we need to, to collaborate better to to understand how these different aspects uh in package so that we can create a solution that’s tailored to the problem, because are are judicial and mental health in them.
Uh, systems tend to treat these problems uh with an adult mindset rather than attract a child mindset, and so what we want to do is bring together is of these policy makers, medical professional, educators, more so that we can look at how we help and heal the victims and at perpetrators, because we understand the, the reasons that these uh harmful, problematic sexual behaviors come up, whether that’s because kids were victims of abuse themselves or neglect, or have been exposed to this pornography at a really young age.
And so, uh, we want to make sure that we’re not just putting some turnkey, adult based solution in place, but instead tailoring the solution for the kids and the reality of their facing. So that was, you know, the the, the purpose behind the conference, the symposium that we did and the continued work that we have going forward, and you can uh, if anybody interested about learning more on that. We actually have a whole section of our website on that if you go to nsexualexploitationorg and search for child and child or child and child sexual abuse and that’s the website to learn more about nicocian general.
0:25:07 – Speaker 1
Um, that’s right, which we really just touched the surface. We could probably do ten shows, but, jake, um, our time is out, but thank you so much for spending time with us and educating us and showing us a little bit more of how we can learn about you and what y’all are doing to fight against sexual exploitation now we really appreciate it.
0:25:24 – Speaker 4
Uh, you guys have enough on and we look forward to continuing the conversation and continuing the movement toward a world free from sexual exploitation great thanks jake, yeah, bye thanks for joining us on nextTalk radio with mandy and kim on a m six thirty the word.
0:25:39 – Speaker 2
You are not alone trying to figure out how to parent in this digital world. We are here with practical solutions to help you. Follow us on facebook, instagram and twitter. Find our video series and podcast at nextTalk dot org. Are you ready for the next time?
Transcribed by https://podium.page