Bowling Green Daily News. May 21, 2021.

Editorial: Leaders right to object to child-focused social media network

It is alarmingly common for the Daily News to report on criminal cases involving adults using social media in efforts to engage in inappropriate behavior with kids, and these local cases represent a tiny fraction of such instances nationwide. For all of the internet’s positive contributions to modern life, it does have an undeniable dark side, particularly in its misuse by those who seek to harm children.

That’s why we are thankful that Kentucky leaders have voiced opposition to Facebook’s apparent plans to create a version of Instagram – a popular, photo- and video-based social media network – that would ostensibly be reserved for children ages 13 and younger. Facebook, which owns Instagram, has argued that a children-specific network is safer than the practice of kids lying about their age in order to access apps and websites that lack adult oversight. We suppose there’s a case to be made for that idea, although we are troubled by the concept of establishing virtual hunting grounds for bullies and child predators. No matter what security and safety measures are implemented, it seems obvious to expect such networks to be infiltrated by adults with harmful, and sometimes criminal, intentions.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, and Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s attorney general, share our sentiments – which, we presume, are also held by many parents.

“Research demonstrates that social media can be harmful to the physical, emotional and mental well-being of children. There are rapidly worsening concerns about cyberbullying on Instagram. Child and sex predators use the platform to target children, and children are too young to navigate the complexities of what they encounter online – including inappropriate content and relationships with strangers,” Brooks said.

Cameron joined 44 attorneys general in publicly opposing Facebook’s plan for Instagram, a show of strength that – at least for now – seems to have tempered the tech giant’s interest in releasing such a product.

We hope Facebook genuinely steps back and takes a hard look at its ambitions in this matter, rather than simply biding its time until the coast is clear.

In the modern age of computers and cellphones, it is nearly impossible to totally shield children from the potential dangers lurking on the internet. But the burden of protecting children falls entirely on parents and guardians, who must make choices that are best for their families and be diligent about monitoring kids’ online activity. Even if Big Tech sincerely aims to create a safe space for kids to interact online, there is simply too much risk in trusting these corporations to truly safeguard our children’s health and safety.

___

Ashland Daily Independent. May 21, 2021.

Editorial: Human trafficking real issue

Human trafficking might seem like a problem for a larger city, but it happens everywhere, big city to small town.

In fact, Ashland has its share of the heinous crime; it’s not unusual for this newspaper to publish stories about people being arrested and charged with human trafficking. And those are just the ones who have been caught.

Unfortunately, it’s a crime that strikes the most vulnerable. Statistics show 40-60% of victims in the United States are children and 70% are female.

Fortunately, Kentucky is aware of the issue and is doing something about it.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s Trafficking and Abuse Prevention and Prosecution has begun an education program in partnership with Kentucky Beer Wholesalers Association to enlighten beer distributors about human trafficking.

At a glance, it might seem an odd sector of the population to target with the information, but Cameron said beer distributors have unique access to areas where trafficking can occur and their partnership could help increase reporting for an extremely underreported crime.

It’s good to know the commonwealth is proactive in combatting human trafficking, but everyone can work toward helping those who are enslaved.

Warning signs of human trafficking, according to the International Catholic Migration Commission, include:

• Someone living with their employer.

• Someone younger than 18 involved in prostitution.

• Very poor living conditions and/or multiple people living in a very small space.

• Not being able to speak to the individual alone.

• Employer holding passport or other identity documents.

• Signs of physical abuse, like bruising or other injuries.

• The individual seems submissive or fearful.

• The individual is unpaid or is paid very little.

• The individual’s responses seem to be rehearsed or scripted.

To report human trafficking, call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888. Reporting is anonymous and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

___

Frankort State Journal. May 20, 2021.

Editorial: County should pony up another $200K for new animal shelter

The Franklin County Humane Society has asked the fiscal court for $200,000 in additional funding for a new animal shelter, and as county leaders work on the fiscal 2021-22 budget in the coming weeks, we believe they should pony up the money.

Fifteen months ago, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Frankfort City Commission pledged $1 million toward the project. In March 2020 the county committed $800,000 of the $1 million FCHS requested. The local government contributions were a strong statement as the organization raises the balance needed in private donations.

Now, the humane society board of directors is asking fiscal court to match the city’s contribution.

In its recent letter, the board cited an estimated county budget surplus of $3 million and $10 million in federal funding that the county will receive through the American Rescue Plan.

It shouldn’t take a mathematician to figure out the county can afford to give the humane society the $200,000 it is seeking, even though we acknowledge many requests from many worthy causes as elected leadership sets priorities for the coming fiscal year and beyond.

The animal shelter funding request is urgent. After all, it took $56,000 to clean and restore the Kentucky Avenue animal shelter after the sixth flood in its history closed it for a month earlier this spring. The county has the power to help make that the last flood the aging facility has to endure.

While he realizes there are many projects in need of county funding, Sam Marcus, president of the Franklin County Humane Society, told The State Journal on Thursday that time is of the essence and the new animal shelter project is ready to go as soon as funding is secured.

“Our opportunity to start construction in September is shrinking,” he explained. “The additional county contribution could make a huge difference and send a positive message to anyone sitting on the fence that now is the time to get this done.”

There is also the chance that the price of materials and labor could drive up the shelter’s price tag even further. Those increased costs already added $1 million to the total price for the now $5 million animal shelter, which would be located on the city-owned Carpenter Farm off the East-West Connector.

To date, FCHS has raised nearly $1 million of its $1.6 million capital campaign goal.

We encourage those who are thinking about making a donation to visit https://www.flipcause.com/secure/classic/ODY4ODg= or send a check to the Franklin County Humane Society, 1041 Kentucky Ave., Frankfort, Kentucky, 40601. Be sure to specify the new animal shelter on the memo line so it will be deposited into the right account.

END