Less than two weeks ago, North Carolina's state legislature passed, and the governor approved, an innocently named bill with the title "HB2."
In the ensuing shitstorm that has followed, it has come to be known as "The Bathroom Bill."
It gets this ridiculous title because the content of the bill is pure crap.
Actually, that's not the real reason, but it still works just as well. The supposed "purpose" behind this bill was to "protect" the children from North Carolina from men, posing as women, entering the bathroom and assaulting little girls.
On the most basic of levels, there are a number of flaws with this bill. But what truly burns my grits (especially as someone is a proud Southerner and has lived in North Carolina) is that it makes an assumption that is 100 percent completely false -- that someone who is transgender is a pedophile. Having worked in a Child Crimes division of a District Attorney's office and prosecuted the scumbags that prey on children, I have literally NEVER encountered a transgender person who was the assailant.
In fact, if you try to search for an example of this supposed scenario happening, you will see that it has NEVER HAPPENED. You know how I can be so sure? Because if it had, the bigots of this country would be holding it up constantly as an example of why we would "need" this law.
So let's recap really quickly: North Carolina called a special legislative session, which cost the taxpayers $40,000, to pass a bill to "prevent" something that has never actually happened.
If North Carolina REALLY cared about children, what they should be doing is updating their cyber crimes laws instead. (Well, and fix their education system, and support teachers, and a variety of other things -- but I am focusing on this for right now.)
Everyone's children are living in an age where an innocent tweet, text, picture, Snapchat, whatever, can turn their entire lives upside down. It can also place children unknowingly into extremely dangerous situations. Don't believe me? Go watch an episode of SyFy's "The Internet Ruined My Life."
I stumbled upon this show this morning and enjoyed a mini-binge session before the realization dawned on me -- the laws we have to protect our children are decades behind the scary, dangerous, and even violent situations children (and adults) are now facing due to the rise of the Internet.
More than 50 percent of kids have been bullied online, and more than 1 in 3 have been threatened online. Further, "1 in 10 adolescents or teens have had ... damaging pictures taken of themselves without their permission, often using cell phone cameras [and a]bout 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others."
The Department of Justice released figures from 2006 that showed 1 in 4 victims of stalking were cyberstalked. Since this study is a decade old, it is highly probable that those numbers have increased. Pew Research shared findings from 2014 where 40 percent of adults said they had been harassed via the Internet.
This harassment and stalking online has an effect on the every day lives of the victims. They will miss work or school, they become depressed, they become reclusive or anxious (or both), and suffer serious emotional damage. It can even lead to either suicide, or murder at the hands of the cyberstalker.
Yet, with all of these statistics floating around, you might be surprised (or not) to learn that there is a serious lack of legislation on the books at the state level regarding exactly how to prosecute these events.
Let me spell that out even further: North Carolina wasted taxpayer dollars and time, passing a law to "prevent" a potential crime that has never happened. Yet there are children (and adults) being viciously attacked, harassed, stalked, bullied and more every day on the internet.
How about states, including North Carolina, stop trying to protect children from some theoretical bo0geyman and instead pass laws that actually protect our children from proven harm?
Just a thought...