A Nurse’s Call to Arms: Safeguarding Our Children in the Digital Battleground

A Nurse’s Call to Arms: Safeguarding Our Children in the Digital Battleground

As a former emergency room nurse and the founder of Hoʻōla Nā Pua and Pearl Haven, my days were once filled with the immediate task of healing physical wounds. Today, my mission is to mend the deeper, invisible tears in the fabric of our children’s lives – those infected by the trauma of abuse and the dark world of online exploitation.

The internet, an endless frontier of information and connection, has also become a perilous landscape where predators lurk and innocence is traded. The statistics are more than numbers; they are a siren echoing the urgency of the crisis – with 36 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation received by NCMEC’s Cyber Tip line in 2023 alone. Behind each number is a child, a life scarred by the shadows that we, as a society, have a duty to protect.

These traumatized children, stripped of their innocence, stand at a crossroads where the risk of falling into exploitation is ever present. The staggering number of online dangers – from pornography to predators armed with deception – is not something we can afford to ignore.

As I cry out for a culture that honors the sanctity of childhood, respects the inherent worth of every individual, and relentlessly pursues a society free of sexual exploitation, I am reminded that this is not a war to be waged by the few. It is a movement that demands the courage and conviction of all.

The climb is steep; a 422% increase in the production of child sexual abuse material over a decade and a half is a mountain of misery that no child should have to scale. Yet, there is hope on the horizon. Initiatives such as EIE programs are on the frontline, combatting this crisis by equipping communities with knowledge and tools essential for deterrence.

We must come together as a collective and resolve to “stop the madness,” safeguard our youth’s well-being, and reclaim the internet as a space of safety and growth. To affect change, we must stand together to support vital child protection bills:

Kids Online Safety Act
Stop CSAM Act
Shield Act

These legislations are not mere policies; they are shields for our children, protective measures that we must uphold with never-ending advocacy.

I implore you – let your voice echo in the halls of power. Contact your senators, let them know that the protection of our children is non-negotiable, that you stand with those who seek to forge a future where every child can navigate the digital world without fear, fortified by our collective vigilance.

In service and hope,

Jessica Munoz

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