This is a draft of my final essay for my effective writing course. It is supposed to be persuasive and cover any counter arguments. We had to turn the draft in, and overall my professor liked it. She said I needed to work on my counter arguments. I am having a lot of trouble identifying the counter arguments. She also said my thesis needed work. I guess when I was told it could be two sentences that person was wrong? Any suggestions would be highly appreciated. It is a ten page paper, so I will post it in parts.
The Virtual World: A Parent's Worst Nightmare
Sara was eleven years old when she first started to download pirated music and view sexual material online. Eventually, she started taking drugs that she bought from online pharmacies and moved on to heroin when she found the instructions to make it. By the age of fourteen, she was highly addicted to drugs and had sex with multiple older partners that she had met online. Local police started an investigation when a concerned friend told them they had not seen her for days and then informed them about Sara's online activities. Unfortunately, they were too late. Sara was found in a back alley strangled to death; it appeared she had suffered torturous rape sessions for forty-eight hours before her attacker let her rest. This may sound like an extreme case, but it is not. Everyday millions of children encounter situations on the web that can be detrimental to their lives.
Online predators, pornography, drug trafficking, piracy, and hate sites are just the beginning of these experiences. It is the parent's job to use prevention tools, and instill safe surfing habits into the lives of their children to keep them away from these sordid affairs.
Don't talk to strangers. This is good advice and children should adhere to it. The reality is most usually do not, especially if they are online. Online predators have established ways to trick children into trusting them so they are able to take advantage of them. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation,
Some of these individuals gradually seduce their targets through the use of attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts. These individuals are often willing to devote considerable amounts of time, money, and energy in this process. They listen to and empathize with the problems of children. They will be aware of the latest music, hobbies, and interests of children. These individuals attempt to gradually lower children's inhibitions by slowly introducing sexual context and content into their conversations (A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety, 2007).
Predators can be any age or sex, and they victimize in different ways. Some talk to children about adult situations like sex. Others ask children for pictures of them that are sexual in nature. Vast amounts of online predators strike up friendships with children and get them to meet them off the internet (A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety). Once a child is with the predator, the predator will molest, rape, or kill them. A study conducted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, states that 1 in 7 children aged from 10 through 17 have been approached online by someone with the intent of sexual relations (Wolak, J., Mitchell, K., & Finkelhor, D, 2006).
Children need to know how to handle situations like this. Report any person that seeks personal information or media, wants to send obscene materials, tries to lure children into a sexual situation, or any innocent sounding URLs that direct to sexually explicit sites. Reports can be made at CyberTipline.com or by calling 1.800.THE.LOST (Don't Believe the Type, Š 2007). More often than not, these predators will use pornography to show children what they want, or to explain what they mean.
Pornography on the Web
The web hosts multitudes of sites aimed towards sexual gratification. The United States alone has 244,661,900 of these pages, making that 89% of the pornography sites on the web (Ropelato, Š2007). Sadly, most of these sites are extremely indecent and some are even illegal for adults to view. Rape, snuff, bestiality, sadism, masochism, bondage, scat, necrophilia, and child pornography, are all types of pornography that can be found on the net. Running across sites like these could be detrimental to a child's life. Constant viewing of material in this nature could lead to children becoming sexually active at a young age. This increases the chances of under-aged pregnancies and/or sexually transmitted diseases. It could also infuse an outlook on sex that is anarchic or abnormal, and could lead into sexual depravities. Not all children who are exposed to pornography at an early age will develop crude views on sex, but an extreme number of them will. "...pornography short-circuits and/or distorts the normal personality development process and supplies misinformation about a child's sexuality, sense of self, and body that leaves the child confused, changed, and damaged (Enough Is Enough, Š 2006)." When children experience negative impacts that cause emotional damage they will often turn to drugs for an escape (Your Child Needs You!).
Drug Trafficking Online
Who needs to meet up with a shady character on a street corner or darkened alley to purchase drugs when all they have to do is go online? Parents may think their kids are safe from buying drugs online, but that thought could be a deadly mistake. Numerous online pharmacies sell prescriptions of common controlled substances, with only a questionnaire and without the need of a doctor's permission (Parents. The Anti-Drug). This makes it relatively easy for children to get drugs such as valiums, morphine, OxyContin, diet pills, steroids, and just about any drug available in a pharmacy. The fact that teens are using over-the-counter drugs to get high should make this dilemma a viable concern (Parents. The Anti-Drug).
Of course, if children want to make their own drugs like marijuana, LSD, heroin, and crack all it takes is a simple Google search to locate the instructions. Furthermore, several sites online sell seeds of popular drugs like marijuana, peyote, and numerous different kinds of plants and cacti that parents may never have heard of. Some of these sites sold the actual dried plants. Most of these sites that sell the seeds or plants have a disclaimer stating that they do not ship to countries that have laws against this. However, what would stop children from asking their friends from other countries to buy it for them?
Another thing parents need to worry about is pro-drug sites that encourage people to use drugs. These sites are very professional looking and often make scientific sounding points to promote their views (Parents. The Anti-Drug). In order to support their habit, kids will often start stealing from their families or companies (Your Child Needs You!).
Piracy & Peer-to-Peer Networks
Today's pirates do not embark on journeys, searching the high seas for victims to loot. However, like the pirates of the old day, modern pirates are thieves and scoundrels. Instead of looting ships and pillaging villages, they search for new media and copy it for distribution. Unfortunately, many of these pirates are children. Piracy is defined as, "Copying or distributing protected works or products without the permission of the true owner/author of an intellectual property," by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Stop Piracy, 2006). According to the FBI, people caught with pirated work face fines up to $250,000 per file and possibly five years in a federal prison (Investigative Programs Cyber Investigation). Taking a camera to a movie or concert and recording it, purchasing a CD and making a copy for friends, and making a copy of any media and placing it on a Peer-to-Peer network for sharing are forms of piracy (United States Patent, 2006). Piracy does not only apply to the people who are doing the copying and distribution. People who download these files willing from a Peer-to-Peer network or off the web are also guilty of piracy and can face the same punishments (Copyright and Digital Files, 2006).
Children are often exposed to other risks on a peer-to-peer network such as, seeing files of pornography and other disturbing videos or images, infecting the computer with viruses and spyware, and granting access to a hacker on the affected computer (Don't Believe the Type, 2007). Parents must educate themselves on the many ways material from the internet is pirated in order to put a stop to it in their home. One of the best ways to keep children from entering these illegal networks is to give them an allowance for downloading files from a legal peer-to-peer network that already has the permission from the original creator (Protect your family, Š 2007). Another risk of continued exposure to drug usage is children feeling isolated and is unable to fit in. This can lead kids to groups of people that prey on this type of behavior and make them feel welcome.
The net is overflowing with sites that promote their hate-ridden views on racism, religion, and sexual orientation. In several of the sites that promote race supremacy, they claim they do not hate any race. They just simply love their own. These same groups have slaughtered numerous people from other races and are actively seeking out children to become their future leaders. In the past, these hate groups used word of mouth and pamphlets to recruit misguided teens. Now, they have websites filled with their ideologies and are designing the sites to attract young people. A majority of these sites use patriotism, religion, nationalism, and quotes from historical people to cover or boast their real agendas. "Young people may be susceptible to online racist propaganda because they don't have the experience or facts at hand to refute the lies and myths being fed to them (Media Awareness Network, 2007)."
The actual definition of the word cult is "a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies" (Dictionary.com, 2007). Looking at it like that, all religions are cults. However, the more popular definition of the word cult is "a religion or sect considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader" (Dictionary.com, 2007). Religion is one of the most controversial subjects in the world. Therefore, it is really up to the person beliefs to decide what a cult really is. Scattered across the web are numerous sites that contain religious beliefs or ideas. Many of them are considered mind-controlling groups and parents should be very aware of the thoughts that are being placed in their child's mind.
Children often feel they must hide the fact that they are homosexual because of the hate it inflicts in others. Anti-gay websites are extremely harsh on gay people and provide others with messages such as "kill gays". There is an actual game on the net where a hunter must kill all the gay people before they rape him. Sites such as God Hates Fags are specifically vile towards homosexuals. These kinds of attitudes are resulting in young gays to become emotionally distressed and may attempt to kill themselves because they fear being homosexual in today's culture (Guidelines for Psychotherapy, Š2007). The strongest support a gay child can have is that of their parents.
Parent's Can Make a Difference
Parents need to be extremely careful what their children experience in the virtual world today. Taking the Internet away and not letting them use a valuable learning tool could be hurtful from an educational standpoint. However, with so many threats targeted towards children, it can feel overwhelming and many parents find it difficult to keep up. Rest assured there are methods that can help combat the terrors in the virtual world, and may even help in the real one. The first thing parents must do is educate themselves on the potential dangers. Secondly, talk to your children about your findings and demonstrate the importance of being careful online. Don't be afraid to talk to them about these problems like an adult. Children often know more about life than they let on. Create with them, a set of ground rules when using the internet (Protect your family, Š 2007). Help them understand the importance of not giving out personal information and arranging meetings with people on the net. Encourage them to talk about their online experiences, and show where they go online. Exploring the web with children is an exceptional way to open communication and spend time with them. Even after good communication is established, parents still need to make sure they are watching what their children are doing online. Always maintain access to any email or instant messaging accounts they may have. Know their passwords and regularly check to see what is going on and who they are talking to. Check the history of the Web browser to see which sites they have visited. Watch what programs are being installed on the computer. Make sure to keep a good eye on credit cards and any other online accounts that you may have (A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety). Also, be aware of what mail and packages are coming to your home (Parents. The Anti-Drug). Keep the computer in a room that is occupied most of the time. To help make sure damaging sites are not coming to a child while they are surfing the web, there are parental control programs that block vulgar and harmful sites (A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety) There are also web services that keep track of what children do online (Protect your family, Š 2007).
A parent's job has become that much harder with the firm impact the internet has had on our society. Not only do they have to make sure their children are safe in the real world, but they also have to create security in the virtual one. Just like the real world, the virtual one has dangers like predators, pornography, drug trafficking, theft, and hate. Sara's parents grieve over their daughter everyday. Both wished they would have known the risks their daughter was taking online. They would have talked with her more about it, but now they will never have the chance. Sara hid her activities from her parents well, and the cost was her life. Do not let your children be in the same predicament. Open communication with them; it could save their life.
I'd be happy to give you some input on your excellent essay!
I tend to agree with your instructor that your thesis is a bit weak. It needs to stand on its own a little more, rather than referring to "these experiences." Something like this: "Online predators, pornography, drug trafficking, piracy, and hate sites are a constant threat to children who use the internet. Only by teaching them safe surfing habits and employing the proper prevention tools can parents protect their children from the dangers that lurk online." (I'm not aware of a rule that says a thesis must be only one sentence, but instructors' preferences do vary.)
Something I noticed:
Another risk of continued exposure to drug usage is children feeling isolated and is unable to fit in. This can lead kids to groups of people that prey on this type of behavior and make them feel welcome. - This seems rather out of place in the section on downloading piracy.
Be aware of matching single subjects with single verbs, and plural with plural. For example, "Open communication with them; it could save their lives." It is usually best to end with a sentence or two that mirror your thesis. Don't use the exact same words, but make it similar.
I'm a little unclear on the "counter-arguments." Are you supposed to argue (or include others' arguments) that parents should just let their kids do whatever they want online because no harm can come from it?! Or is it that parents shouldn't waste their time because the problem is so widespread there's nothing they can do besides not allow internet in their homes? This doesn't strike me as the kind of subject there would be a strong counter-argument for, but I suppose your instructor must have something in mind. Perhaps you could include information about how easily children learn to get around parental controls.
You've done a lot of work and some really good writing! I hope my comments have helped some!
Thank you for reviewing my essay. I liked the input you had to offer! I really loved the rewrite of my thesis. Do you mind if I use something similar to it?
I had a lot of trouble forming a transitional sentence in between the piracy and hate-ridden sites. I really could see no way to bring the two together. So, I thought maybe continuing the effects drugs have would work. When I put the final touches on it, I will have to think of a good way to bring them together. Although, I plan to add a few more subjects in this essay that might work instead of having the two next to each other. Hackers and hacking rings is one of those subjects that may be able to fit in the middle of those. Online cheating, cyberbullies, and violent sites are other things I plan to include in the final. I really did not want to submit all of that with the draft. How boring would it be to read the same thing again?
In the essay, she wants us to address possible counter arguments that others may have and establish a way to negate them. I agree with you. I do not see this as a subject that has many arguments. I thought that I was a little too opinionated and could not see any. I do not want either one of my children involved in any of this on the internet and figured other parents wouldn't as well. I mean what parent openly tells their children to go home with strangers, view porn, take drugs, and steal whatever they want??? Hopefully none! Although, many parents raise their children to hate certain people and already have certain religious beliefs that they expect their children to follow. I tried to write those parts as objectively as possible. It is not my right to tell them what to believe. I cannot morally tell people to think those groups are wrong, but I can make people aware of it.
I'm glad I was able to help! You are more than welcome to use not only my ideas but any of my words you find appropriate, as well. We're here to help! :-))
You're right, about others having the right to their opinions, but I feel we all have the right to speak out against things we feel are morally wrong; I didn't find your essay opinionated in the least. I suppose one could make a First Amendment free speech argument with regard to what people post online, or put on their websites...the extreme view being, we have to surrender control of what our children see online to whoever wishes to put their views out there; free speech must win over the safety of our children! (No one would actually say that, but that's the logical outcome of preventing all interference with free speech--and I say that as a strong supporter of the First Amendment! It's a tough balancing act!)
Best of luck!
Thank you for all of your help. I really appreciate you for letting me use your rewrite of my thesis. I have tons of trouble creating them sometimes. You have had some really good ideas for some counter arguments as well.