schools ebsco
February 10, 2018

How One Family Is Taking A Stand Against Pornography and Sexual Exploitation in America’s Schools

Guest Post By Robin Paterson


The truth is so shocking and unbelievable that many people do just that: they don’t believe it. But, as the parents of a middle school child, we discovered porn in the school sponsored digital databases last year.

We discovered, quite by accident, while perusing articles on “grade 7 biology”, that there were hundreds of articles streaming sexually graphic text and images, full color advertisements for sex products, with links to the vendors, articles promoting the use of pornography for “sex education”, with links to hard core porn sites, articles espousing sexual violence, with ads for the BDSM industry, graphic articles, with images, encouraging and detailing the use of handcuffs, floggers and gags during sexual activities, promoting “hook-ups.”

EBSCO Information Services and other K-12 “homework” database providers, such as Cengage’s GALE, and ProQuest, are becoming promoters for Big Porn and, much like the Big Tobacco of years past, they are targeting children with advertisements. And they are using our schools to do it.

We have found articles advertising, and even providing live links to Russian Bondage Porn Sites, the Adult Video Network, MindGeek, Butt Club, Kink.com, Zaragosa Escorts, which actually invites girls to “sign up”, and scores of other, similar, venues. Porn Sites and Sex Toy Shops are being actively marketed to kids through these K-12 school digital databases.

In Colorado, in the now infamous Cherry Creek School District, we reached out to our school administrators with our horrific findings – and we were shut down at every twist and turn:

  • From the beginning, we were told not to speak of the porn to other people and were threatened that “something would happen” that we “wouldn’t like” by the Director of Middle Schools.
  • We were systematically ignored when we called and wrote letters to the Board of Education and the Superintendent even called us “haters” in a public meeting we attended
  • We were ridiculed as “lone voices in the wilderness” and issued letters advising us that we had no right to determine what was educationally sound for others, that the material in question was an appropriate use of “sensitive and controversial material” and that it was required for “inclusive” excellence.
  • We were shouted down, and heckled, during our many presentations before the School Board.
  • We were told by one board member that she had no opinion on the use of pornography to educate children.
  • The Superintendent reported us to the local police for reading their own material to them, and threatened to have us arrested.
  • We had others parents tell us that our names came up, and we were ridiculed, during coffee-with-the-principal meetings.
  • We were called liars by the Cherry Creek’s media office when reporters called to ask for information.
  • We contacted the president of the PTCO, who reached out to the District but was dissuaded from pursuing the matter.
  • In response to our complaints, high level District Officials stood before the Board of Education and denied publicly that there was any problem, even putting in writing “there is no porn”.
  • The School had their librarians publish lengthy articles in defense of EBSCO, even interviewing the manager of our state’s database wholesaler, the Colorado Library Consortium.
  • We called our local TV stations, but reporters either dropped or soft-soaped the story,  likely under pressure from the district.
  • We reached out to our school’s parent teacher associations but they wouldn’t allow us to come and speak, presumably because the school principal had slandered us, damaging our reputation. In speaking one-on-one with parents, many would share our horror, but they were afraid to stand with us in public. We even received anonymous letters from frightened parents encouraging our fight but explaining their fears of expected retaliation against their children.
  • The school principal made a loud display of throwing us out of the library when we tried to look at the books on the shelves. Not only was she not disciplined, but was later promoted to a Director position within the District.
  • We spoke to all of our child’s teachers, raising awareness of the database content, and spoke with some who, outraged at the obscene material, told us they refused to use them but could not speak publicly for fear of being terminated.
  • We tried to work with the head of the local teachers union, who shared that some teachers had been disciplined for raising concerns about porn, and then stopped talking to us after apparent intimidation by school administrators.
  • We contacted EBSCO’s then CEO, Tim Collins, and reached out to other database providers directly to ask that they remove porn from school products, and were just given the “run around”

And, all of this because we wanted the Cherry Creek School District to do the right thing by protecting children from the damaging effects of violent and degrading pornography.

This is just one fight, in one district, of one state.

EBSCO and the other database providers sell these same K-12 digital products to schools all over the country, and even internationally. Colorado is ground zero in the fight, but it’s everywhere and parents need to wake up to this egregious assault on America’s children. This is happening in our schools, in our public libraries, under our noses; in the very places where our children are supposed to be safe, protected, and nurtured. Our schools are sponsoring it with our taxpayer dollars.

EBSCO is one of the worst offenders, maintaining a “non-censorship” policy with its valuable publishing clients, such as Hearst, Conde Nast, and others, who are allowed to stream adult magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Esquire, and more, full of lucrative advertising from their sex industry advertising partners, into digital products which are then packaged and sold to schools. And this is not your mother’s print version of these magazines. Hearst and others have found that it is easy to insert the most graphic and dehumanizing images into these subscriber databases and, with the complicity of our schools, develop a growing consumer base of pornography.

It’s not just pop magazines, there are numerous sources of advertising for the sex industry embedded into EBSCO school products, even so called “academic journals” with titles such as “Spanking Natasha…”. EBSCO digital products are proprietary; they cannot be filtered and are protected by lucrative, contractual arrangements with EBSCO’s publishing clients.

Federal money is used to fund EBSCO in states across America, through the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and most states appropriate tax dollars to fund EBSCO for schools and public libraries. Across the country, public libraries are actively channeling child traffic directly into EBSCO’s path by advertising the database products as “homework” tools. There is nothing passive about the delivery of this material to our nation’s kids – they are being directed by a new generation of “teacher librarians”, activists, really, who have found their way into our schools and libraries, bringing the twisted ideology of the ALA, under the leadership of Jamie LaRue, who is on public record as responding to the suggestion that EBSCO stop streaming porn, with the charge that it would be an “… attempt to impose censorship…”. And your point is, what, Mr. LaRue? That there is some special 1st Amendment need to protect a child’s access to pornography?

LaRue is wrong and the ALA has branched out like a cancer, spreading harmful misinformation and indoctrination in defense of porn for kids.  The US Supreme Court has already ruled that protecting children from obscene and harmful material does not constitute an unreasonable infringement on the 1st Amendment. Why, then, does LaRue and the ALA feel they must continue to provide it to our children. What sick ideology supplants the safety of our children?

It has been a long, and sometimes lonely fight for our family. We have been slandered, ridiculed, and threatened. We were interviewed by one local TV station only to have the story killed, and later by another which soft-soaped the facts. But we are not alone – and numerous brave people and organizations have now entered the fight. It may be our generation’s most important social battle, the protection of our children from this damaging material and in defense of our kid’s rights to just be left alone, unmolested by the deviants in our society. Children need to be left alone. They are not a consumer base. They are not political tools.

Last fall, Brian Camenker, of Mass Resistance (massresistance.org), had the courage to break the story and we will be forever grateful to him for his help and guidance. Others have followed his lead. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (endsexualexploitation.org) named EBSCO to the Dirty Dozen list, bringing world-wide attention to the problem. Under pressure from NCOSE, EBSCO has made some slight changes but these appear grudging and inadequate.  EBSCO continues to falsely market its K-12 products and waits to be confronted by angry school leaders, if they find out what’s really embedded. EBSCO doesn’t tell the schools – they wait until they find out on their own.

In fact, the Chief Information Officer of our school district described shouting matches with EBSCO employees, anger with the bait and switch marketing tactics, and anger at all the clean-up work he has been forced to do, without assistance from EBSCO, under pressure from angry parents.

Not unpredictably, our school district and many others in Colorado, and across the country, have become endemic with sexual assaults. Garbage in – garbage out. We have allowed Big Porn into our schools, to sexualize our kids, to normalize sexual violence and then we wonder why so many children become victims, or even perpetrators of sexual violence.

A 2017 Associated Press investigation estimated that the numbers of student on student sexual violence is sky-rocketing. Literally, every day there are more teachers indicted for sexual assault of students. In our school district, the Cherry Creek School District, there have been 5 recent indictments, some for multiple assaults at Prairie Middle School and cover up by the administrators. The Cherry Creek Middle School Director has disappeared with no forwarding address, and the Superintendent retired hours before the most recent indictments were handed down. People don’t resign or suddenly retire for being caught doing good things.

We are just ordinary parents, but we have been able to make a dent in this problem, with the help of NCOSE, Mass Resistance, and others. The momentum is growing and all parents and citizens need to demand accountability for EBSCO and other database providers that promote the 95 billion dollar sex industry through school portals.

Parent’s can make a difference but to be heard, you must stand up and be counted. You may sometimes feel discouraged but, in defense of our children, there is no battle more worth fighting, and fighting with everything you have got.

We call upon our nation’s schools to get rid of EBSCO and to say no to their financial incentives, to their “awards”, “grants” and other bribes and inducements to use their products.  And we call upon state and federal law enforcement to enforce the laws that are already on the books – not only is it morally reprehensible, but it is against the law to distribute pornography to minors.

The sex industry should not be institutionalized in America’s schools.

Take action and email EBSCO executives:

National Center on Sexual Exploitation

Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health crisis of pornography.

Further Reading

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