About the Safe Families Program
Safe Families is a program of TechMission, Inc. that was formed to assist parents in protecting their children from pornography and other dangers on the Internet. TechMission started in 2000 with its first program, the Association of Christian Community Computer Centers (AC4) with the goal addressing the digital divide, which is the gap between those who have access and training with computers and those without. AC4 is the largest association of faith-based community computer centers in the world with over 500 member serving over 50,000 individuals each year. As AC4 assisted in getting people across the digital divide, it became clear that it was one thing to get people across the digital divide, but it was another thing to get them across safely.
Our vision for AC4 is "Computer Skills to Make a Living--A Spiritual Foundation to Make a Life." We believed that it would not be much progress if a low-income family finally got a computer into their home only to have the children exposed to pornography and online predators and their parents addicted to pornography and online relationships. The problem was there was a lack of training and software tools for online safety in low-income community. With many low-income families buying their first computer second-hand for $50, it is not reasonable to expect them to pay another $50 for Internet filtering software. Because of this, Safe Families has committed to distributing over 100,000 copies of free Internet filtering software in the next year.
We realize that for parents, just having software is not enough because parents need to be trained on all strategies for protecting their kids online. Because in most low-income communities, churches are the most prominent institutions, a major part of our strategy is to provide workshops overcoming pornography addiction through churches. Just as many recent anti-drug and anti-smoking strategies have called on adults taking increased responsibility with their children, we expect adults to take increased responsibility in maintaining their own media sobriety to set an example for children. Just as with smoking, many adults became addicted as children. Nearly all adults addicted to pornography had their first exposure to pornography through second-hand smut. We believe that adults suffering from pornography or media addiction should enter pornography addiction recovery process just as with other addictions.
Second-hand smut from adults is like second-hand smoke--when smut is around everywhere, it affects everyone around it including children. A recent study showed that children with high-access to second hand smut were 2.2 times more likely to have sex between the ages of 14 and 16 than other children. Because of the damaging effect of second-hand smut, we believe that society needs to start treating second-hand smut like they do second-hand smoke. Adults need to take responsibility for protecting their children from second-hand smut online, in the home and elsewhere. Because of this, we provide adults with a media sobriety covenant and recovery resources to help serve as a positive role model with children and break porn and sexual addiction.
As we move into the information age, society is experiencing changes unlike ever before. We believe that it is important for all individuals to take an active role in addressing the social issues of the information age (like the digital divide) as well as the moral issues (like online safety and media sobriety). For those who have not crossed the digital divide, we believe it is a social and moral imperative that they cross the divide, so that they can adequately protect their children online and compete in the information economy. For those who have become information and computer literate, we believe that it is a moral and social imperative that they set an example of media sobriety to protect their children from second-hand smut and dangers online.