Is EBSCO in the information delivery service… or the censorship business?
We don’t know who is behind the “Wikipedia War” but we have to assume they have a vested interest in keeping the EBSCO Porn scandal out of the public eye.
So, whether the entity responsible for the censorship war is EBSCO, Tim Collins, or perhaps the ALA or some other entity (it has a strange similarity to the wording in Jim Duncan’s “Strident Claims” manifesto) … we want to set the record straight.
This is the accurate and referenced submission by
Concerned Citizens to Wikipedia regarding the so called “EBSCO Controversy”:
The information in the above section, “Controversy” has been the subject of an interesting “Wikipedia War”. Originally, our factual commentary was published on Wikipedia by
Concerned Citizens. This information provided Wikipedia readers with the facts about the controversies that have troubled EBSCO concerning its K-12 school products.
Later, the information was deleted by another user, in an apparent attempt to censor the information, facts and references so that Wikipedia readers could not learn about the controversy.
Our factual submission was replaced with the following, highly truncated version. There are many facts and references omitted, creating a highly misleading account of the controversy. The usurping of K-12 “homework” databases to stream sex ads and porn at students is trivialized by the author as follows:
Every time the factual submission by Concerned Citizens has been deleted, we have replaced it. We go round and round in circles with the censor on the other end.
This has taken place a number of time, creating a battle between information and censorship. How ironic that an information company should be at the center of a censorship battle.
For their second year running, EBSCO has been named to the Dirty Dozen List by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) as a major contributor to the sexual exploitation of women and children.
As awareness spreads around the country, many parents and teachers remain unaware of the dangers embedded in EBSCO digital “homework” or “research” products. Information, including video evidence, is available at the NCOSE website.
FORMATION OF CONCERNED CITIZENS FOR SCHOOL DATABASES IN RESPONSE TO EBSCO SCANDAL
Almost 2 years ago, the Colorado Library Consortium, or “CLiC”, was notified of pornographic content easily available to children through innocent searches in the EBSCO K-12 databases. They failed to act to protect children.
In response, Concerned Citizens for School Databases, a Colorado community group was formed and has fostered relationships with numerous parties and organizations around the country.
EBSCO is not just a Colorado problem. EBSCO sells its K-12 products to roughly 55,000 schools all over America, as well as internationally.
The mission of Concerned Citizens is to increase awareness around the country that digital, school portals have been usurped to advertise and promote the $95 billion dollar sex industry. We call on schools and public libraries to demand that EBSCO remove any and all pornography, obscene material, and sex toy ads from the EBSCO digital database products .
We call on lawmakers to enforce existing laws prohibiting the display of obscene and pornographic material to children.
For background on how EBSCO positions itself in the market, and with its publishing partners, see, “EBSCO The Natural Partner”. This document clearly details EBSCO’s sales pitch to its publishing partners on how EBSCO can help them increase brand awareness and market penetration.
Why would these be important considerations for content publishers in a product designed for K-12 schools? More on this later.
CLIC LASHES OUT AT THE COMMUNITY IN RESPONSE TO GROWING COMPLAINTS
In an apparent response to the rising number of concerns, the CLiC, EBSCO’s wholesaler in Colorado, has produced a lengthy “Guide” for librarians with advice on how to push back against the community. This document, written by CLiC Manager, Jim Duncan, can be read in its entirety at Understanding Strident Claims.
It would be hard to imagine a more hysterical pamphlet than that produced by the CLiC.
Despite the breathy, high-pitched tone of the screed, nowhere in his lengthy rant does Jim Duncan, Director of CLiC, ever deny the existence of the obscene and pornographic content in the EBSCO products “designed” for minors. Why would he, EBSCO itself does not deny that there is pornography in it’s k-12 products. You would think that fact alone might clarify the issue for Mr. Duncan but, sadly, it does not.
It is notably ironic that the title of the CLiC’s raving is, “Understanding Strident Claims About Electronic Resources” and yet, reading through its 25 pages, it is truly difficult to imagine anything more stridently alarmist. Anyone concerned with the delivery of pornography and sex toy ads to children is denounced as a “book burner” or a “censor”. Clearly, Mr. Duncan doesn’t know the job of a parent, maybe he doesn’t have kids. One of the primary jobs of a parent is to act as the family censor; it is a parent’s duty, springing from love of their child, that requires them to protect their child from any material that is not appropriate for their level of development and which might harm a mind not yet ready for some material.
Let’s try to penetrate the hyperbole, hysteria, misinformation and alarmist tone of this document and actually get to some facts.
FALSE ASSERTIONS MADE BY CLiC ALONG WITH OUR GROUPS RESPONSES
a. Patrons Voicing Concerns about Porn-for-kids are “Book Burners”
From the outset, the “Strident Claims” document labels those who raise concerns about child safety as “Accusers” who demand nothing less than a full-scale BAN of all databases and certain e-book products.
Such accusations are absurd and the CLiC knows this.
For the record, there have been communications with CLiC representatives, EBSCO representatives, school administrators, and library officials wherein we have repeatedly asked only that the pornography be removed from the K-12 databases being made available to children.
Through the course of our inquiries and research, we have learned that much of the obscene and pornographic imagery, text, and hyperlinks will not be removed from EBSCO’s digital “homework” products. EBSCO has indicated that, by contractual arrangement, the material submitted by their publishing partners cannot be filtered.
No member of our group is demanding a “ban” of all databases. The position of Concerned Citizens for School Databases is that digital products for minors, currently in use, be filtered to block all obscene and pornographic material for minors. If that is not possible, then they should be replaced with other, similar products which do not contain obscene material.
This is an eminently reasonable request and one which would no doubt be shared by the majority of concerned parents, educators, librarians and citizens.
Instead of dealing rationally with community concerns, the CLiC, much like Chicken Little, screams that the sky is falling..
CLiC’s position is, however, consistent with that of the American Library Association (ALA) that, “…Library policies and procedures that effectively deny minors equal and equitable access to all library resources available to other users violates the Library Bill of Rights…” and, “The American Library Association opposes all attempts to restrict access to library services based on the age of library users”
Many in the community would take exception with such a policy as radical and harmful to minors. Such policies stand in direct contradiction to filtering and other statutes designed to protect minors from obscene material.
Yet, our public libraries are placed between a rock and hard place when it comes to upholding community standards of safety, and meeting ALA policy expectations. Librarians are placed at odds with the communities they are supposed to serve.
b. The “Strident Claims” Document States That School and Public Libraries Possess The Expertise And Responsibility To Choose, License Or Buy Whatever Content They Deem Valuable And Useful To Their Local Communities
It is interesting to note that the CLiC seems to be of the impression that libraries set the standards for the community they serve and not the other way around. Yet, the community, through their tax dollars, pays for all of the library products and, surely, the community has the ultimate say in what material is valuable to them, and what is not. Libraries, it seems, are no longer in place to serve, but to dictate. That’s good to know.
The “Strident Claims” document appears designed to set our libraries against the communities they were established to serve. It advises all librarians to anticipate “attacks” and be on the look out for “book burners” (yes, these are quotes). The “Strident Claims” document uses established propaganda techniques to incite fear and anger, making liberal use of inflammatory imagery such as the pouring of gasoline over books, and images of libraries going up in flames; Farenhiet 451 just around the corner.
To any rational person, this is nonsense.
c. The CLiC’s “Strident Claims” Manifesto Cites Concerned Citizens for School Databases as Claiming That “…librarians do not care about the safety of our children…”
Let the reader be the judge!
You will note that in the CLiC’s handy guide to dealing with community concern, there is no denial that the pornographic material is present in the EBSCO, and other, databases. No one denies that. EBSCO does not deny it. CLiC doesn’t deny it. Their position, as noted above, is all material to all people, regardless of age and appropriateness. If that means pornography to children, which is the CLiC and ALA position, then child safety is clearly not one of their priorities.
d. The CLiC’s “Strident Claims” Document Makes False Claims About Compliance With CIPA and State Law
This, obviously, is a legal question and we don’t see that any licensed attorney has co-authored the CLiC’s “Guide”.
However, let’s look at wording of the CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act)… kinda says it all, doesn’t it?
Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA)
CIPA is administered by the Federal Communications Commission. CIPA was enacted by Congress in 2000.
What the act does, simply, is mandate certain internet protections for minors for any organization that receives discounts, funds, or grants from the federal government in the, so called, e-Rate system. Organizations wishing to receive these discounts must “certify that they have an internet safety policy that includes technology protection measures. The protection measures must block or filter internet access to pictures that are (a) obscene; (b) child pornography; or (c) harmful to minors (for computers that are accessed by minors)”
In addition, “Schools and libraries subject to CIPA are required to adopt and implement a safety policy addressing:
access by minors to inappropriate matter on the internet;
the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms and other forms of direct electronic communications;
unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking” and other unlawful activities by minors online;
unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors, and
measures restricting minors’ direct access to materials harmful to them
Now, since no one denies that there is pornography in the EBSCO, and other, databases and this material is actively promoted for use by minors (as “Homework” help), it is exceedingly confusing that CLiC would have us believe that libraries and schools using EBSCO are in compliance with CIPA.
Since this type of material can be accessed by minors, while within the EBSCO databases provided by the library, it seems clear that they are not CIPA compliant.
Libraries will, we can assure you, claim that they have filtering in place. The problem is, these so-called, “top site filters” cannot reach inside the proprietary EBSCO databases to filter anything. If you have any doubt about this, please see EBSCO on the Dirty Dozen List, then go to your local library and do some searching in the children’s recommended “homework” resources. What you will find will be very alarming.
2. Colorado State Law CRS 24-90-603 Also Specifies That Children Be Protected From Obscene Material
The CLiC and libraries are governed by Colorado State Law and must therefore comply with the following provisions:
CRS 24-90-603 Adoption and Enforcement of Policy of Internet Safety for Minors Including Technology Protection Measures – Public Libraries CRS – 24 – 90- 603
(1) No later than December 31, 2004, the governing body of each public library shall adopt and implement a policy of internet safety for minors that includes the operation of a technology protection measure for each computer by the public library allows for access to the internet by a minor.
The definition of what constitutes “technology protection measure” under CRS 24-90-630 is:
(7) “Technology protection measure” means a specific technology, including without limitation computer software, that blocks or filters internet access to visual depictions that are
(c) Harmful to minors, except that no technology protection measure may block scientific or medically accurate information regarding sexual assault, sexual abuse, incest, sexually transmitted infections, or reproductive health.
Hmmm, scientifically and medically accurate? Maybe to Jim Duncan.
g. CLiC’s “Strident Claims” document cites Colorado’s Adams 12 Five-Star Schools As Having Well Established Policies For Citizens To Challenge Material
It is certainly interesting that CLiC raises Adams 12 Five-Star School libraries as example of a library well equipped to deal with materials challenges. In fact, the Adams 12 District has been very responsive to concerns raised by parents allied with our group.
When shown the offensive material and the ease with which it can be accessed by children, Adams 12 took swift action. It seems they shut down access to the databases, contacted EBSCO, and demanded action to clean up the products before reinstating student access.
The rapid responsiveness of Adams 12 Five-Star District to community concerns begs the question: Why do other libraries and CLiC refuse to take the same safety measures?
h. CLiC’s “Strident Claims” Document Declares “…Technology Solutions (such as filtering software or network devices) Are Used To Manage Blacklisted Web Sites…”
This is an extremely disingenuous statement.
First, EBSCO is not a web site and CLiC knows this.
EBSCO provides a database which can only be accessed by subscription. It is not the same as a “Google” search on the open internet. Material embedded within the EBSCO databases cannot be filtered from the outside and EBSCO has stated that they are bound by contract not to filter out any publisher material. Rather, they will remove entire publications if requested to do so.
So, there is no protection, short of a “pick-list” of publications (such as that created by Adams 12, see above).
Our Arapahoe Library District has not chosen to use the so-called “Adams 12” pick list, despite our advising them of its availability. Some school districts have made use of a “pick list” to partially remove content that is obscene for minors, however it is cumbersome and one district CIO has said that trying to sort through it with EBSCO is exceedingly frustrating.
And it is a constant effort. New material is added daily. It would take a full-time team to keep the pick-list up to date and what school district has the money for this? And why should they have to do it?
i. CLiC’s “Strident Claims” Document States Correctly that “…Filtering is not perfect”
We finally agree. No, it is not and, in the case of an EBSCO database, it is not effective at all because EBSCO is shielded from top-site filters.
According to CLiC,, “The best organizations understand that “students, parents, teachers and community members are all concerned about internet filtering – so districts [and libraries] are more successful if they communicate their policies to all these groups”.
Conspicuous by its absence is any mention of CLiC or libraries being concerned about blocking obscene material from access by children; apparently, the important point is that they convey their policy. It seems protection of children is only a “student, parent, teacher and community members” concern.
It is also interesting to note that the primary concern of CLiC seems to be that “they communicate their policies to all these groups”, not that they do anything to protect our children, just that they communicate their policies, which, as we have seen, are that all materials be available to all patrons, at all times per their “Library Bill of Rights” policy. They make no distinction between material that maybe appropriate for adults and material that is completely inappropriate for children. The distinction is irrelevant to them.
So, have libraries communicated this policy in a clear and transparent manner? Are Colorado parents aware of the Library Bill of Rights? Do they understand that by allowing their children to use the library they are agreeing that librarians may steer them to “homework” help resources containing obscene material? Doubtful.
Most parents would likely just keep their kids away from the library if its policies and Bill of Rights concerning minors were posted in a sign over the front door?
What is CLIC’s justification for making pornography available to children and fighting so hard to maintain it?
To really understand the level of intransigence, just look at the suggested email template that libraries use to gain a “City Official(s)” trust and support:
Thus, the CLiC manifesto, “Strident Claims”, advises librarians to deceive city officials as to the nature of complaints received by community members. It is also interesting that the manifesto assumes, a priori, that complaints are invalid and should be summarily discredited without any investigation. Of course, knowing the material is there obviates any need to investigate.
j. CLiC’s “Strident Claims” Manifesto Specifies Certain “Strategies that will make your library or school look great”
Note, nowhere in its list of actions does the CLiC actually suggest that the librarian review the material with the complainant and then respond directly to the complaint. All the steps are designed to maintain the material, not to engage in any consideration of its merit in the library and certainly not any consideration of the appropriateness of the material for children.
And, to be clear, if any further clarity is needed, no one is challenging Huck Finn or To Kill A Mockingbird. We are talking about extremely graphic and obscene content, including advertisements for sex products, made available in your school and public libraries, under the cover of “Homework” and “Research” resources.
k. “Strident Claims” States That “…Nationwide, school educators and librarians make purchasing decisions based on collection development guidelines or curriculum needs”.
So, can there actually be a “curriculum need’ for pornography?
l. “Strident Claims” States That “…these individuals [raising concerns about porn in kids’ digital products] claim that databases from EBSCO contain at least 200 obscene articles, stories, and images of a graphic nature”
Well, we counted 200 and then we just got tired of logging them all. The amount of pornography and sex toy ads is astounding. I wonder how much, or how little, is OK for our children? By CLiC’s standards, how much must there be for it to be unacceptable? No amount, no matter how much, seems unacceptable to CLiC.
CLiC seems to believe that the likelihood of a child just stumbling upon this offensive material is like winning the lottery but we have found it through benign ESBCO searches such as “diabetes”, “respiration”, “boy’s stories”, “girl’s stories”, “animal stories”, “human biology”, “fashion”, and so on. You can imagine what comes from these searches.
In fact, EBSCO school databases are preloaded with obscene search extenders i.e. live search recommendations for terms such as “lust”, “leather communities”, “bdsm”, “group sex” and many, many others. The very terms that should be properly filtered out are embedded as helpful search extenders.
m. The CLiC Manifesto Asks: “How Credible Are the Claims?”
Here, we again find something to agree on with CLiC: that you be the judge.
Go to your local library and raise the concern and see where that gets you.
Raise the issue with your school principal and see what the result is.
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation
CLiC appears to deride and denigrate this organization for trying to take steps to protect all of our children from the various methods of sexual exploitation.
Again, we encourage parents and anyone concerned with the effects of pornography on children to visit the NCOSE site and decide for yourself whether this organization should be scorned, or applauded.
Finally, we think any public entity is beholden to the community they serve, not the other way around. It is not CLiC or librarians that decide what products are appropriate for a publicly funded institution, it is the community of tax payers that foot the bill. There is an old saying that he who pays the freight calls the weight. Well, the community pays the freight and it is time that CLiC understood this.
EBSCO is a 3 billion dollar corporation that boasts of providing K-12 research databases to over 50,000 schools nationwide. These databases contain some journal articles and newspaper stories but, in general, have been widely criticized as disjointed and random in their search results. The journal articles appear to be a loss leader for the true product: magazines and advertisements. Yes, schools all over the country are streaming advertising at K-12 kids. And a good deal of this advertisement is adult in content, very adult. There are hundreds of sexually graphic ads for “sex toy” shops, complete with links to the online shop venues. There are sexually graphic articles, images and even links to hard core pornography sites. This obscene material is streamed into K-12 school databases by EBSCO’s publishing clients and include adult “pop culture” magazines such as Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan, Lesbian News, Glamour, Chatelaine, Ebony, Esquire and other magazines and articles that have absolutely no business in a homework database, and believe me, these are not your supermarket, news rack versions.
What child, ever, used Cosmo as a homework resource?
Our group is networked across the country to expose this horrific problem, and we have thus far identified obscene EBSCO content in school linked databases from 15/15 states that we have been able to investigate, including Colorado, Florida, Connecticut, Nebraska, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Nevada, Georgia, Ohio, New Jersey, Minnesota, Kansas, West Virginia, and New Hampshire.
Marketed as a Scholarly Datbase But Links to Hard Core Porn Sites From “Academic Journals”
Members of our groups have recently taken a closer look at some of the academic journals contained in EBSCO’s Explora school databases. We have found live links to a myriad of hard core porn, and violent “BDSM” porn sites embedded into the “academic journals” streaming into EBSCO’s K-12 Explora Secondary School databases.
If that’s not bad enough, EBSCO search results are disjointed, repetitive and random. The Emperor truly has no clothes when it comes to EBSCO’s “school products”.
THE OBSCENE FACES OF ESBSCO SCHOOL DATABASES ACROSS THE NATION
What are we teaching our children?
Pornography has been shown to contain heavy themes of misogyny as well as the glamorization of sexual violence. Children exposed to pornography can be harmed – for more details, see the National Center on Sexual Exploitation which has named EBSCO to its 2017 Dirty Dozen list as a major contributor to the sexual exploitation of women and children (http://endsexualexploitation.org/ebsco/ ). As might be predicted in a country where 50,000 schools are streaming EBSCO porn at their students, the rate of student on student violence has reached alarming proportions (https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/sexual-assault-fellow-students-17-000-reports-4-years-ap-n753106 ). Teacher/student sexual assaults have sky-rocketed. Do these predators use EBSCO as a classroom grooming tool? Do they send students to EBSCO, where they are bound to locate sexually graphic content because it is pushed to the top of the search results, perhaps in the hopes that children will become desensitized and accepting of sexual advances? How else to explain these alarming trends? Every day there is another breaking news story about a teacher who has sexually assaulted a child in their care.
Colorado leads the fight against EBSCO
The prestigious Cherry Creek School District of Colorado recently contacted EBSCO and asked for the ground breaking, “Adams 12 Exclusion Package”. This removes a number of adult, graphic, pop culture magazines which are known to stream obscene content into children’s homework and research databases.
What a fight! It took more than a year. But every school district in the state of Colorado that we have looked at has been identified as infected with EBSCO porn. EBSCO is distributed across the state by the Colorado Library Consortium (CLiC). EBSCO was introduced to Colorado through a collaborative venture between the CLiC and the CDE/State Library, although recent attempts to ask the CDE for help led to a scrambling restructure to remove CLiC from the state education umbrella. What are they hiding?
Coloradans can “thank” Gene Hainer of the CDE State Library, and Jim Duncan, Manager of the CLiC, for introducing the EBSCO atrocity to our state.
The CLiC has advertised EBSCO databases to our K-12 institutions as a valuable and appropriate school resource while nothing could be further from the truth. When confronted with the reality, the CLiC denied any responsibility, callously claiming they “just sell” the products and ridiculously claim they bear no responsibility should their school customers misuse the products by allowing students to have access.
Every school district in Colorado was notified almost a year ago, and so was the Colorado Association of School Executives (CASE), the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES), but it appears that, with the exception of Adams 12 and the Cherry Creek School District (CCSD), our leaders have just buried their heads in the sand.
Only two districts that we are aware of have responded and that would be Adams12 and the CCSD. Although they have not solved the problem, they have made a transitional gesture of removing many of the adult magazines that are the worst offenders for streaming obscene content. This is a valuable first step but the problem will not be solved until EBSCO subscriptions are canceled. EBSCO has shown itself to be a thoroughly corrupt corporation that appears to be knowingly, and with full deliberation, exploiting millions of school children nationwide for profit. They can never be trusted and they will always find new and creative means of pushing lucrative advertising for the 95 billion dollar sex industry into our schools, targeting a captive audience of children and minor youth as potential new consumers. We have even located articles that encourage young girls to enter the escort and sex work industry. No, EBSCO can never be trusted again.
There truly is no depth too low for EBSCO to sink in its gluttonous pursuit of profit. The EBSCO name has been sullied beyond repair.
Bryson Stephens, grandson of Founder, Elton Stephens and, apparently, a respected member of his community in Birmingham, the headquarters of EBSCO Industries.
Every concerned parent and taxpayer should contact EBSCO 1 (800) 653-2726 to express their outrage and should also contact their local School District to demand that EBSCO subscriptions be canceled. Don’t let them tell you that they “filter” EBSCO – this is a lie. The Cherry Creek School District tried it with us, and they are on record issuing this misinformation to concerned parents, teachers and reporters who called with concerns. But the truth is out: EBSCO database products are proprietary and cannot be touched by external or top site filters.
If they could have filtered the obscene material, Adams 12 and the Cherry Creek School District would not have created an Exclusion Package. The fact that EBSCO cannot be filtered has been confirmed by A12, the CCSD, the Arapahoe Library District, and EBSCO upper management in private communications. EBSCO even publicly admitted to having “problems” with its school databases in an interview with WBRC Birmingham (http://www.wbrc.com/story/35775174/could-your-kids-find-pornographic-articles-on-school-computers ) and they promised to be working on internal filtering, which we have yet to see. In fact, our most recent information is that EBSCO is planning to dump even more responsibility onto their school customers by asking them to manually, “cherry pick” objectionable articles from K-12 products. Does EBSCO think that more taxpayer money should be squandered to hire a full time cherry-picker to stay on top of the porn streaming into its K-12 databases?
When we spoke with EBSCO management, we were told that the content of the K-12 databases was protected by contractual arrangement with their publishing clients. EBSCO values its publishing clients far more than they value their school customers. These “non-censorship” contracts, that permit streaming of porn and sex toy ads, must be very lucrative to EBSCO. After more than a year of nationwide pressure, and even being named to the Dirty Dozen list, EBSCO adamantly refuses to filter its K-12 products. EBSCO is dedicated to the protection of its publishers and advertisers and appears firmly committed to granting them free ranging, unfettered access to a captive audience that ranges into the hundreds of millions of school children across the U.S., Canada, and other countries.
What’s in it for the schools?
Maybe the million dollar question is this: Why would our schools want to be complicit in EBSCO’s advertising of porn to kids? In Colorado, schools were notified a year ago, and only 2 that we know of have responded, even partially. Are they ashamed to admit there’s a problem? Afraid of legal liability if children have been harmed by exposure to porn through school databases? Are they getting kickbacks? All of the above?
Surely, EBSCO is generous with compensation to its school and library customers. EBSCO hands out grants, incentives, money for trips and awards. Some libraries even receive the $100,000 “solar grant” award each year. EBSCO is linked with the ALA and this country is now waking up to the fact that our “library community” has morphed into something that most adults wouldn’t recognize anymore. In fact, the Director of Intellectual Freedom, Jamie LaRue, was quoted as stating he would be “happy to go pick up [the Dirty Dozen] award” from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2017/07/EBSCO_online_databases_filter_inappropriate_material.html ). He likes EBSCO.
The pressure is mounting
With Colorado beginning to backpedal, now is the time for other states around the country to take a stand. We have confirmed EBSCO porn in 15/ 15 states that we have investigated and we have good reason to believe that it is present in every state across the country. Parents need to understand that the problem is not limited to public schools. We have found EBSCO Porn in private and parochial schools, and homeschooled children do not avoid the assault if they are using public libraries, which peddle EBSCO as “homework” databases, often driving traffic to them with promotions and ads that target minors.
There can be no justification for the egregious assault on the health and safety of our children by EBSCO. Schools and libraries should take the high ground and get rid of EBSCO lest they become morally and legally complicit.
It’s been a struggle but the momentum is building. We will not back down and we encourage others across the country to get involved.
NewsProject does allow commants and since the author of the article, Christopher J. Ferguson, was incorrect in his analysis, it required clarification and correct. As a result, we posted our response in NewsProject.
Unfortunately, it seems that the champions of the anti-censor movement have absolutely no problem with censorship that they deem appropriate and, like so much of the progressive liberal intelligentsia these days, it is just another case of do what I say, not what I do. Our post was deleted. Hypocrisy reigns in the halls of the anti-censorship drones.
So, to correct the record, here is what we posted.
As one of the parents that discovered this material in the Cherry Creek School district library catalog, I would like to respond to some of your comments.
First, it is important to understand that EBSCO advertises, markets, and sells these databases as being differentiated and customized for different grade levels. Nothing could be further from the truth.
We discovered this material in our daughter’s middle school library catalogue last September (2016) and, early on, we had discussions with executives from EBSCO, including CEO Tim Collins. We were told that the only differentiator between any of the “school products”, including the college level offering, is lexile level.
Lexile level is a measure of vocabulary complexity and, as facetiously stated by an EBSCO account executive, there just ain’t many big words in porn. He admitted that because of the simple lexile filtering, some of this material might well be in elementary school products. Consequently, and as we discovered, filtering the middle school databases on a lexile of 8th grade, and a category of human biology, yields results like “Orgasms for All”.
Once a child selects this, as you term it, “click-bait” and opens the article, they can then expand their search into other areas of sexuality and sexual behavior, by clicking on the convenient links the publisher provides; bondage, sadomasochism, rape, sex-toys (with very graphic illustrations), and, as you have mentioned, the joys of “fisting”. Fisting, as the term might suggest, is the insertion of a person’s fist and forearm into the anus or vagina of their tormented partner. Is this really appropriate for middle school children?
Importantly, as I have described above, a child does not have to search around for this information. It is presented with giddy abandon through innocuous search terms such as “stories about boys”, or “animal stories”. I leave to your imagination what is found in the search results for “animal stories”.
Rather than being “maddeningly short” on details, the stories in both massresistance.org and endsexualexploitation.org (NCOSE) are very long on the details, providing explicit screen shots of the material readily available within EBSCO. Again, why is this material being made available to minor children, in a product that EBSCO markets and sells as being age and grade level appropriate? Clearly, there is some severe misrepresentation in EBSCO’s promotional material.
As you have pointed out, there are links to material such as “Spicy Videos to Share with your Partner” and there are other videos. One video we found displayed 2 men having anal sex. Hey, kids, have a look at this!
This is categorically pornography and should not be made available to minor children. Links within some of the EBSCO articles also lead to the Adult Video Network, where, again, extremely graphic, sometimes violent, always exploitative, videos are being presented to children. Samples are available, so, no, they are not being hidden behind any paywall. I am just not certain why this seems OK to some people. It is not!
The fact that the American Library Association (ALA) says that few parents have complained is disingenuous. We have heard the same thing from our school district (Cherry Creek School District) and from our local public library (Arapahoe Library District). Yes, both admit that they have done nothing, and will do nothing, to actually inform parents of the potential danger. If they truly feel that this is not an issue, let them inform their constituent stakeholders of what is available, then we will see if parents lack concern about this. I know where I would place my money.
But they won’t inform parents. They know what would happen.
As to filtering, both EBSCO and our school district have admitted that the material, including the videos and other graphic depictions cannot be filtered out of a database. You are clearly misinformed as to how school filters work. They are top-site filters and cannot filter out the material resident in the EBSCO databases.
There is no distinction between accessing this material from home, from the child’s school, or from your local public library. You can access this from anywhere and most disturbing (as if all of the above is not disturbing enough), is that now, the schools and EBSCO are collaborating on providing children with phone apps so that this material can be accessed in the school yard. Talk about customer service!
Parents may well have filtering at home but that protection ends the minute their child leaves the home and directly accesses the school or library EBSCO databases. Parents also assume that if the school provides the resource, it has been vetted and that it is safe. It is a reasonable, albeit false, assumption.
As you have suggested, we, as parents, have approached both the school district and EBSCO about removing this material and have fought a 10 month battle trying to gain any meaningful action. EBSCO, as we have been told by executives, maintains non-censorship contracts with its publishing clients. That means that they cannot and will not filter out any of a publisher’s material.
In fact, it is contrary to EBSCO’s financial interests to do so, since they are likely paid according to the volume of distribution; similar to a newspaper being able to structure its advertising rates according to distribution.
To be fair, EBSCO has made some changes to its product, now allowing customers to “cherry pick” articles and content that they do not want displayed. However, this is only after 10 months of battling with the Cherry Creek School District and EBSCO, and only in baby-step increments along the way. EBSCO also is not advising their customers of this option, so the schools are unaware that this functionality is even available. So, it is for appearances only. Of any real substance, little has been done.
It is curious that you raise the issue of the LGBT community and I wonder where you received your talking points? Our school executives raised the same issue months ago. At no time, no time, during our 10 month battle to have this material removed, have we, the parents, ever mentioned the LGBT community. However, in a written response from 6 school executives, we were told that the material we encountered was vital to the district’s “commitment to inclusive excellence”. What, exactly, does this mean?
Have you, and our school district, identified an LGBT segment of the middle school community that are avid consumers of pornography and claim their consumption of it is some basic human right, or that it is in pursuit of some educational goal? What has pornography being made available to children got to do with LGBT issues? You either feel that porn should be made available to children, or you do not. Are there other segments of school children that are being under-served in this regard? Please, spare me this ludicrous misdirection!
We are not in favor of banning books. We are not in favor of censorship. We are in favor of making only age-appropriate material available to children. That is a parent’s duty; to protect their children from harmful and damaging material and behaviors until they are of an age where they can properly, and in a healthy way, process the information they are receiving.
Scientific research shows that the human brain is not fully developed until about 28 years of age. Consequently, decision making, processing, is not fully developed until at least that age. It is just not appropriate to make this type of material available to children before they can fully understand and process the information. Before this age, it can be confusing and damaging to a developing child. This is also clear from research. Yet you, the Cherry Creek School District, the ALA, and our Arapahoe County Library seem to know better. You place some misguided ideology regarding censorship ahead of the safety and health of our children and you should all be ashamed of yourselves.
The Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear that filtering material harmful to children is not an unreasonable infringement on 1st Amendment rights but you all clearly know better. Clearly, the rights of publishers of pornographic material trump the rights of children, in your mind.
Within some of these databases, we have found that children can be lured down paths to material that promotes a rape culture, promotes violence against women, glamorizes the sex-trade industry and, allows access to “sign-up” sheets for those interested in a career in the wonder-world of being an escort. Are you kidding me? This is a clear abetting of sex trafficking, yet you want to protect it.
Finally, our position is not that some material “slips through”. Our position is that EBSCO, and its publishers, are in the business of promoting and fostering an active consumerism in children, aimed at increasing the profits of the pornography and related products industries into the future. It is clearly a very calculated and callous maneuver, designed to foster early childhood acceptance of all of the joys that can be made available to children if they just click on the link. It is disgusting and indefensible.
Again, our reply to the article was deleted. What a bunch of hypocrites!
We have encountered this same type of hypocrisy in dealing with Superintendent Harry Bull and Asst Superintendent Scott Seigfried. While accusing us of being mere censors, they refuse to notify the parent community of the material in the EBSCO databases that pose a danger to their children. This is censorship, pure and simple.
Our local Smoky Hill Library, through the Arapahoe Library District has taken the same position; we are censors but they will take no steps to warn parents that pornographic material can be accessed by children.
Clearly, they are all fine with censorship, as long as it is their form of censorship. The irony is stupefying, as is their position.
Parents should be aware that, while the focus, here, is on the egregious behavior of the Cherry Creek School Board, your local libraries are doing the exact same thing, and more.
On a recent trip to the Smoky Hill Library, part of the Arapahoe Library District, we visited the children’s section of the library and logged in to one of the available computers. These computers, reserved for small children, had the same problematic data base resources as the schools, and more!
We have made the Library District aware of the issue and they have shown little concern. Now, I know that, if pressed, the Library would offer the exact same rationale as the schools; that they are anti-censorship, that the kids need access to research material, etc. These people are all cut from the same cloth; they march in lock-step to a tune only they can hear; the rest of us understanding that, as adults, our primary job is to protect our children.
However, what is the exact need for children, aged 0-10 for “research” data bases? And exactly why do they feel kids of any age need to be able to access pornography.
Parents, keep your kids out of these libraries (and they all have it) until they clean it up. This is not your Aunt Bea librarian. These are people with an agenda and it is not protecting children
As if it couldn’t get any worse, another data base resource used by the schools, GALE, has links to an escort site called Zaragosa. Here, children are bedazzled with stories by escorts about how fun and lucrative a job as an escort can be.
Stay in luxury hotels, meet rich men, stay on their yachts, live the life of leisure. And kids, you can apply right there on the site.
This atrocity was brought to the attention of the Cherry Creek School Board in the April meeting, yet nothing has been done to remove GALE. Is GALE a good corporate citizen? Is GALE really providing any educational value to school kids, I doubt it.
This month, the Cherry Creek School Board sent out a self-serving newsletter defending the use if these types of data bases.
This document is so full of conflicting statements, faulty logic, rationalization, and self-justification that it would take PAGES for me to fully discuss them. Let’s just look to the highlights.
I will paraphrase
1. STATEMENT- The internet is full of bias but EBSCO and other databases are not.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In a recent test we performed on Gale, around the issue of Sex Education, there were 15 articles in favor of radical Planned Parenthood based Comprehensive Sex Ed and 5 abstinence based articles. Of the 5 abstinence articles, 4 of the links were disabled, only one active. Of the 15 for CSE, all 15 links were operative.
We found similar patterns of censorship elsewhere in Gale and the other databases. So, I guess your view of objectivity and censorship depends only on your version of the truth. How egalitarian.
2. STATEMENT- The data bases are vetted.
Since Jim Duncan of CliC and Tim Collins, CEO Of EBSCO, both admit that EBSCO contains pornography and, according to EBSCO, it is problematic, how well could these data bases have been vetted?
You either fully vetted these products, missing the fact that huge volumes of pornography will be available to children, in which case it was an incompetent job. Or, you fully vetted these products, knew the pornography was there, and decided to put it in front of our children anyway.
Pick your poison.
3. STATEMENT- Denise Wendl states that the products are “grade level appropriate”.
Unless you are saying that pornography is age appropriate for kids as young as elementary school, then this statement is just out of touch with the reality.
In a discussion with an EBSCO executive, we were told that ‘the only segmentation by grade level is on lexile and (as the executive then went on to facetiously state) porn does not contain a lot of big words, so it is quite possible that some of this is in our elementary school products’.
In addition, why would a search on Human Biology filtered for a lexile of Gr 7/8 return Orgasms for All? Is this something that we should be presenting 12 and 13 year olds?
4. STATEMENT- “Some of the respect for the content has to come from teaching students and parents that things are going to show up once in a while. But they’re going to show up on the general web, even more so”.
Let me make the very simple and somewhat obvious observation that objectionable material cannot just “show up” if it is not in the content. It will not just “show up” if you purchase products that do not contain objectionable material.
The fact is, and remains, that these data base resources are full of pornography and rather than deal responsibly with the issue, the Cherry Creek School Board is fully content to continue to expose children to the real risk of encountering disturbing depictions and images.
The board is content to continue to do business with EBSCO, a company that has been added to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s Dirty Dozen list as a major contributor to the sexual exploitation of women and children.
It is long past the time for the district to do the right thing, sever all ties with any company that provides pornography to children,
Nobody likes to be lectured to but sometimes it necessary.
Case in point: The last Cherry Creek School Board meeting.
The primary item of the evening, if you can believe it, was an over 2 hour presentation of the study, the analysis, the rationale, and the time frame for implementing a 15 minute change to the school starting times. There were speakers during the public comment session that, quite literally, had tears in their eyes as they argured passionately either for, or against, the change in the starting times.
This is not to diminish the importance of the issue; particularly to teenagers.
Anyone that has teenage children knows how important sleep is to them. Making the decision to delay the high school start time was, therefore, a laudable one; made in the interests of student health and safety.
However, I have to ask; where is that same level of concern for health and safety when it comes to the issue of making pornography available to kids? Where is the parent concern over what, arguably, is an issue that, in importance to the health of children, leaves sleep times in the dust?
I wonder, could we, like the start times meeting, have an expert attend a school board meeting and deliver a discussion of the effects of violent and dehumanizing pornography on developing minds. How do these images and messages shape a young person’s view of the world and of their relationships? What expectations are created? What fantasies that will never be fulfilled?
I am pretty certain what they would say. They would describe the high incidence of failed relationships, the problems holding jobs, the incident of partner violence; all of which they learned from exposure to pornography.
Do you really want your son growing up to think that a leather mask and a gag, while being whipped into submission is route to happiness?
Do parents really want their daughters growing up to think that they merely exist as an object of casual use by men?
The effects are well documented in adults: desensitization, unreal partner expectations, damage to relationship building, bonding issues, divorce, mysogenistic views of women, poor body image; addiction to pornography; the list goes on and on.
And these are the effects on adult brains. What can we expect from in the undeveloped, mushy grey matter that is still forming as a child’s brain? Is there a connection to the current rape crisis in our colleges? Is there a connection to the rapidly rising incidence of STDs and AIDS among young people; those in the 18-25 year cohort? I have my guess. What’s your’s?
This should be of a huge concern to parents. These kids are our future. Is this the future you want for them?
Why does this not concern parents?
We have 2 daughters. We want them to grow to be confident, independent women; secure in themselves and in their relationships with men and to view those relationships as mutually supportive, to the benefit of both partners to the arrangement.
What does the Cherry Creek School District want for the children in their care? Well, they want them to have sleep. We know this from the action they have taken.
It seems that they also want them to have pornography. We know this from the lack of action they have taken. Why would they ever want this? God help them.
This is a major announcement, linking EBSCO to the significant international problem of sexual exploitation, in all its forms: prostitution, child pornography, pornography, sex trafficking, rape, and other forms of sexual exploitation.
Will the Cherry Creek School District continue to do business with this business? Are they proud of this “business” relationship? Will they continue to defend this company as a valued provider of “sensitive and controversial material” and material important to the District’s goal of “inclusive excellence”? By what measure, exactly, do they measure the “value” of the offensive and dehumanizing material that is being made available to our children?
To be fair, EBSCO is by no means the only online data base provider. There are others, such as Pro-Quest and Cengage, that do exactly the same thing. Let us hope they will take note of the impending fallout on EBSCO and proactively take steps to root out pornography from any of their products that they make available to school children.
All of these are currently being used by the the Cherry Creek School District. Are they insane? Or just corrupt.
Last night, at the monthly school board meeting, the district community was treated to the spectacle of the Director for Middle School Education, John Kennedy, conducting himself in a most unprofessional and juvenile manner.
A very kind and thoughtful lady took the podium during Public Comment and addressed the Board on the ongoing matter of pornography being made accessable to school children. During her 3 minutes, this lady went to great pains to praise the board for the action they had taken on school start times and for other positive things she had felt they had done. However, she did call on them to remove the availability of pornography from the resource data bases that the District makes available through its web portals.
During this thoughtful and calm presentation, John Kennedy, squirming like a school boy in church, could barely contain hiself at the blistering wit that he no doubt felt he possessed.
Setting his cell phone to mimick the bell signaling a speaker’s presentation time was finished, he set it off at about the 20 second mark; then proceeded to laugh and giggle, along with his doltish and bovine companion.
Is this the best the district can offer? This man makes in the 3 figures and yet he seems incapable of restraining his rude and juvenile antics. Unacceptable.
It is typical of his bullying behavior, behavior which, in a child, the district seems to demonstrate zero tolerance for. Like a bullying child, however, John Kennedy seems to think he can either threaten or demean others into his way of thinking. Not true.
This insignificant, rude, little, little man attempted to threaten us into silence when we first raised the issue of pornography to the school district and, it seems, he continues to practice this same behavior.
It is an indication of the challenged intellect of this man that he continues to practice what clearly is not working. We will not be silenced,either by threats or by sophmoric wit.
Mr. Bull, you employ this man and he is not only an embarrassment to the District, he is an embarrassment to you, personally. Is this the calibre of “professional” that you employ? He reflects very poorly on the district and should be terminated….immediately.
Mr. Bull is very keen on admonishing others that he finds disruptive but maybe that only extends to admonishing them if he disagrees with their opinions; for those that he agrees with, a disruption is perfectly acceptable. Is that pretty much how it works, Mr. Bull?
Taxpayers of the Cherry Creek School District, this is where a significant portion of your tax dollars are going; to a clown. Buyers remorse anyone?
Recently, over the past several weeks, we have been accused repeatedly of “being censors”. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
We believe that adults have every right to consume information that they think appropriate. Don’t like the subject of a movie or a book, then don’t go see the movie, or don’t buy the book. That is your right as a consumer but you do not have the right to tell another adult that they cannot read that book or see that movie.
What you do has no negative affect on me, so have at it.
When it comes to children, however, responsible parents are responsible censors. That is our job. We must protect our children, physically as well as emotionally and psychologically.
Further, the “do as you want as long as it doesn’t affect me” philosophy, as it applies to adult behavior, does not extend to children.
We are all well aware of the “pack” mentality of children. What one child does and another finds “cool”, soon spreads like the plague through a school or community. Think Poke Mon cards, Furbbies, etc.
This is particularly worrying when we consider the easy availability of the dehumanizing, often violent, and frequently disturbing pornography available to children in the Cherry Creek School District.
According to Harry Bull, he is “not comfortable” making the decision for all families to remove the EBSCO, ProQuest, and Cengage data bases that are responsible for almost all of the pronography being made available to our kids. According to Harry Bull, there are “others” who feel that the data bases should be maintained. Is he seriously suggesting that there are parents in the school district that want to maintain the availability of pornography for their children? I can’t image any parent agreeing to this.