social networking sites

Another Type Of Google Alert: Protect Your Children, Monitor Even Their "Harmless" Online Activities

Last year we formed a relationship with Enough is Enough — an organization that educates parents on Internet safety, as well as with the Interfaith Center for Public Policy and the Attorney General's office, to bring Internet education to parents through churches in Virginia. Through that effort, we've distributed dozens of Enough is Enough's very effective Internet 101 curricula. While the program focuses on protecting our children from Internet predators who stalk Facebook and other social networking sites, there are other dangers online that, while not physically threatening, are problems nonetheless. For example, the online conglomerate Google currently is promoting an art contest for students called "Doodle-4-Google," offering prize money to schools and prizes to winners. Sounds harmless enough and, for the most part, it is.

Except in early online parental consent forms (and forms distributed to schools) Google asked the children participating to hand over private information, such as home addresses, dates of birth and the last four digits of their social security numbers. This is information that is perhaps worth millions of dollars to marketers and retailers. They also ask for the children's place of birth — information that, when combined with one's date of birth, can be used to take a statistical guess about the first five digits of social security numbers.

Now, there is no evidence that Google plans to financially benefit from the information. It simply may plan to toss it. But if that's the case, why ask for it in the first place? Under pressure from advocacy groups, the company did change the parental consent form and no longer requires the social security number, but many schools participating in the contest still are using the original form.

This is just one example of why it is very important to monitor what our children are doing online and, just as important, teach them not to share personal information online. Whether it's sexual predators or marketing executives, our childrens' safety and personal information is highly valuable. Please take the time to monitor everything your children do online — even when it seems "harmless."

Share It!

You may have noticed a new little gadget to the bottom and left of each post, right above the tags. It's a share program we installed the other day as part of our ongoing upgrades which, most noticeably, include our new design (or, "theme" in blogspeak). The share plug-in is another way we hope to make this site more functional for you, so as to better enjoy our site. While we may not have all the technological wizardry of the big boys, we hold our own and continue to improve that part of it. But our content never lacks for anything or to anyone. So help us — all of us: By using the share program to more easily circulate our posts  throughout the Internet — to social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, to  bookmarking or search sites or other blogs, or to e-mail them (or by using the 150 other tools it has) — we reach more people. The more we reach the more impact we have in advancing issues which reflect traditional values and limited government. (Sign up for our RSS feed as well, in the top right corner, so you won't miss a post.) As ever, thank you for already making us one of Virginia's most read political blogs. (Our numbers have been huge the last few months!)

Now, what are you waiting for? Forward a post. Maybe the last one. Remember, it's nice to share.

Setting The Record Straight

One of the responsibilities we at The Family Foundation take very seriously is challenging the misinformation, distortions, or outright lies propagated by those opposed to traditional values, particularly as spread through the Mainstream Media, which shapes so much of popular culture and thought. It's one of the reasons we started this blog and other social networking sites — to provide the truth. (Our YouTube channel, for example, provides uncut video of lawmakers in committee, where you can judge for yourself their attitude toward common sense, pro-traditional values, limited government legislation.) Two examples of misrepresentation in the media have occurred over the last two weeks. One was the murder of Kansas abortionist George Tiller. Our own president, Victoria Cobb, was interviewed about it last week on the popular Richmond's Morning News with Jimmy Barrett (hear it here) on WRVA-AM. In the interview, she dispelled the notion repeated by abortion extremists and some pundits that the murderer of George Tiller is representative of the pro-life movement in America.

She told listeners that, just as the pro-life movement was gaining headway(witness the recent Gallop poll that found a majority of Americans now consider themselves pro-life), pro-life advocates must expend precious time and energy to counter the notion that the murder somehow represents the overwhelming majority of thoughtful, peaceful pro-life Americans.

We know that some abortion extremists and mainstream media organs are using the murder to paint all Americans who seek to protect human life as enablers, morally equivalent to the acused murderer. That kind of rhetoric serves no positive purpose. Instead, it gives opportunities to extremists to label as dangerous law-abiding citizens who legally seek to protect unborn human life. It advances no cause and brings us no closer to resolution in this debate.

The other example was an opinion piece by Lindsay Oliver of the Richmond Reproductive Freedom Project, published in the Richmond Times-Dispatch a few weeks ago. She claimed that, "Although 15 states use their own funds to cover abortions under many circumstances, Virginia is not one of them." 

This statement is absolutely false and Victoria responded as such in a letter to the editor the Times-Dispatch subsequently printed. In fact, despite legislative efforts by The Family Foundation, other pro-life organizations and thousands of pro-family citizens, Virginia continues to fund abortion — taxpayers even fund elective abortions! As Victoria wrote:

The Federal government subsidizes abortions only when a Medicaid-eligible woman's life is at risk or in the cases of rape or incest. In Virginia, we fund abortions beyond the Federal requirements. Incredibly, from 2006-2007, Virginia tax dollars have funded 301 elective abortions (149 in fiscal-year 2007, and 152 in fiscal 2006).

Public interest is in favor of ending this funding. The Family Foundation and the Virginia Catholic Conference co-sponsored a Mason-Dixon poll in December 2008, and when asked if they supported Virginia's policy of using state money to pay for abortions falling outside the categories of rape, incest, and endangering the life of the mother, 46 percent of respondents were opposed to the funding with only 39 percent in support.  Furthermore, a recent Harris poll found that 63 percent of Americans oppose the taxpayer funding of abortion. Combine this with the widely publicized recent Gallup poll showing that 53 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal only in certain circumstances, and it's clear the tide against abortion on demand is growing.

The Family Foundation is honored to serve as a voice for traditional values in the public square. Correcting the lies and distortions of the left is a full time job, but one that we are more than willing to do.