Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
I’ve been writing about the best practices in raising children since 2006. During this time, I’ve covered a variety of subjects, but never did I think I would end up writing about a topic like this. No matter where you live or how you choose to educate your children, this database scandal could likely affect your family.
Behind the safety net of yellow signs, for the past 35 years schools and libraries have been categorized by the United States as “safe places” for children. Sadly, the majority of these “safe places” are exploiting children by spoon feeding them pornographic images, videos, and illicit sexual articles through databases that have been marketed to schools and libraries as “safe and secure.” This seedy material is promoting risky sexual behaviors — including prostitution recruitment services
However, we can’t fully fault the “safe places.” None of the school or library administrators I’ve spoken to about the obscene content found on these secure databases have ever known the sexually explicit content was there. In fact, we’re told by the database companies that their databases make searching for content safer than using internet filters.
Last year, one family in Colorado found pornographic content, including prostitution recruitment services for children, on their son’s school-issued tablet database. Following this discovery, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) notified the Colorado database company, EBSCO (one of the largest global database companies) about the sexually explicit content they found. The company said it conducted a clean-up of the databases. But, when the databases were inspected again it was clear the clean-up unfortunately didn’t work. The obscene content was still there.
Various lawmakers were also contacted in 2017, but no one took action. NCOSE representatives visited Senator Orrin Hatch from my state of Utah. But, from what we can tell, no one received a warning about the EBSCO content from Hatch.
When I heard about EBSCO and the Colorado problem, I immediately started asking friends if their children had ever been exposed to explicit materials, like pornography, at schools. Almost every friend I talked to said that their child had been exposed to explicit materials on school computers. Many of them had said their child had had his or her first exposure to pornography on a school tablet or computer in an art class, computer lab or library at school. I then searched the Utah databases hosted by the Utah Online Library and the UEN (Utah Education Network). These organizations provide databases to schools, homeschool charters, libraries and colleges.
On multiple EBSCO databases that are part of the Utah Online Library, I found pornographic content giving “how to” instructions on sexually risky behaviors, advertisements selling sex toys to children, videos and images of graphic sexual conduct, and literary accounts of risky sexual encounters with objects and people. This pornography was being supplied to school children through the schools — unbeknownst to school personnel, district authorities, government officials or parents.
With a few other concerned women helping me, we’ve now uncovered around 9,000 sexually graphic items in our short searches of what the UEN are calling “journals.” The main database we looked at in Utah is EBSCO, an international database. It’s important to know this database goes by many names because EBSCO has bought many other databases and carries them under its umbrella.
A few of the other database names that parents have found obscene content on (as defined by our state laws), are GALE, Summit, OverDrive, ProQuest, Cengage, Folio, Explora, Stacks, Open Athens, etc. Some of these databases are related to EBSCO.
I went to a Utah senator about my findings, and then he took it to the state school board, the UEN and to the news. Here is a link to the news story.
The UEN has temporarily disabled the EBSCO databases for schools. But it has not disabled GALE and others where we’ve discovered pornographic content. They’ve also kept all the databases accessible, including the sexually risky content, for libraries and colleges in the state.
Last week, the UEN voted to keep school EBSCO databases disabled a little longer. Parents are happy about that. But, there is no guarantee that children are still safe from this kind of content and that they won’t get it back again in the future.
When commenting about her support of EBSCO and her view that there is no reason for the UEN to protect the children from the sexual content on databases, Colleen Eggett, a member of the UEN board and the head to Utah libraries, said. “I really believe: that maybe 30% is the technology of the database (of what is going on) and probably 70% is training. Parents can train their students of what they should and shouldn’t look at. Teachers can train students how to have good digital citizenry.”
This 30% is a very big problem to have with the databases being supplied. And when parents, teachers, administrators and children are all told that a database is “safe” and approved to look through, can 70% of the blame of children finding pornographic content be on the children? It was shocking to think that Ms. Eggett really didn’t feel that schools and libraries should keep children safe from sexualization and digital perpetration.
Who Is EBSCO Really?
EBSCO is a periodical aggregating company. They drive traffic to other periodicals. They receive money from subscribers like schools, states, libraries, churches and colleges. They also receive money from periodical companies to drive traffic back to the periodical. EBSCO promises magazines and contributors to their database that they will have “increased web traffic” and “increased subscriptions.” (Source: EBSCO website) The company says they help magazines like Cosmopolitan, Skateboarder, Seventeen, GQ and others find their “target audiences”. They do this by validating their content as clean and safe for all audiences.
EBSCO also does training for libraries to help library patrons to “be radicalized” (Source: EBSCO website) and serve the library and their social agenda. EBSCO has been undetected in Utah for 10 years.
What You Can Do
- Wherever you live, look into what databases your schools, homeschool charters, libraries, and colleges are using. Don’t assume that private or religious schools are safe either. Remember, they’re told the database is 100% safe. This is a lie.
- Never allow your children to search databases alone.
- Proactively teach your children what to do if they ever see an inappropriate image.
- Tell people about the international database scandal our world is in right now so that they’re aware, ask questions and take action to replace those databases.
- If you live in Utah, send the UEN an email thanking them for removing the databases until a suitable solution is found that keeps children safe.
If we do our part to get informed and teach others about the database problem, then these database companies will have their feet put to the fire. It reminds me of a line from Disney’s Bugs Life, “Ants don’t serve grasshoppers.” We are more than them, and we don’t need to take this kind of treatment. We can still keep our children safe and make schools and libraries “safe places” again — but only if we choose to take action.