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Week: 550.2 Guest: Merriam Kubasek, National Coalition Against Pornography Topic: Pornography on your home computer Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: Cyberspace....a place of wonder: learning, communication, entertainment, productivity...but like some places people go, it can also be nasty and degrading. Today, we're talking about pornography on the Internet with Merriam Kubasek of the National Coalition Against Pornography...and how to safeguard our kids from it....Merriam, what's out there...?

KUBASEK: A wide range of sexually explicit material...from soft core pornography, like Playboy or Penthouse, all the way to the very, very hard-core stuff - bestiality, bondage and domination, and to child pornography as well. Part of the problem though is not only what is available, but how easy children can access it. You can access all these kinds of pornography within about five minutes. And you can get it for free. And most children know how to get around the Web, and know how to get around the Internet.

NEMA: Can it be that easy?

KUBASEK: You can come across this stuff without planning to....for instance, if you're doing a search for a research project...I talked with a parent not too long ago whose child was interested in dogs, and they were doing a search for that, and ended up with, on their screen, some sites that were devoted to bestiality. So, there are some challenges there that parents need to be aware of.

NEMA: Is there a way to block access to these web sites..?

KUBASEK: There are a variety of software packages out there...there are many of them that allow parents to monitor or to screen what their children are accessing. There are some packages that will screen things based upon code words that the parent gives it, and so parents need to really devote some time to understanding the software packages that are out there and see which ones meet their needs...because they are all different. One of the down sides is that some children who are real computer savvy, can get around them. They're not 100% effective, and so parents really need to educate themselves...and not have the child be the only computer user in the home.

NEMA: Any tips you can throw out to parents....?

KUBASEK: Some parents keep their computer in a more public area of the house, and this maybe would be more appropriate if you have younger children...teenagers may not like the invasion of their privacy, and that certainly is an issue....but think about keeping the computer in a public area, where you can see what your kids are doing on the computer. Also, if your child has subscriptions to computer magazines, or gets these kinds of free magazines in the mail, go through them with your child...because some of these magazines have advertisements in the back for games and software and CD ROM's that would be very inappropriate for children. And you need to know what's in there and make sure that your child isn't ordering those on the sly, or maybe your child might have questions about it...this is a good chance for you to talk about these kinds of issues...but talk to them about what they're doing. I mean you wouldn't send your child down the street without really finding out where they're going and what they're doing. It's the same way with cyberspace.

NEMA: Our thanks to Merriam Kubasek of the National Coalition Against Pornography for our tour of the Internet, and some of its darker sides. I'm Steve Girard.


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