The Word on the Week


The jailing of Matthew Horan, the 26-year-old sex offender, this week has highlighted the dangers inherent in the misuse of social media. Horan was using Skype, Snapchat, Instagram and Kik. All designed to promote social interaction including the transmission of pictures.
As is usually the case this sex offender comes from a difficult background. Amongst other things he had been a loner and found making internet friends a way around his difficulties of forging relationships. Those he contacts become like Little Red Ridinghood, unaware of the Wolf (who sounds like a Granny) sending sweet messages and making arrangements to meet!
At the conclusion of the trial there was an opportunity for the victims to make a ‘Victim Impact Report’. One 10-year-old girl described how she felt ashamed, scared and alone.
The insecurity created by realising that you have been deceived by someone who you thought was a friend must shatter your confidence and make you want to avoid getting involved with people.
There is a need for boundaries to be imposed but often the parents are less computer literate than their children who can easily frustrate their efforts. The cry goes up that the Government should do something. Or the computer industry, or the schools but primary responsibility lies with the parents.
It has been suggested that parents raise issues such as the Horan case and ask “What do you think about people who lie and pretend to be children when they are adults?” Another way is to ask vicariously “what would you say to your friend if they told you that this had happened to them?” They would probably tell them to go to the teacher or their Mum and Dad. This enables you to say “that’s really good” and talk about what else could be done.

The Government have done something insofar as the 1998 Act makes sexting illegal where it involves people under the age of 18. They are also considering following the example of Australia and making an appointment of a Digital Safety Commissioner. Also there are helpful websites such as and Zeeko.
Our need to build up our children’s coping skills has just got harder! There now two areas to address – on-line and off-line. No longer is limiting “screen time” much use as the smart phone is almost part of the young persons’ clothing. There is a way to cope however and for that we turn to the Bible.
Adam and Eve didn’t have sexting but their rebellion against God left them, as the little girl said, ashamed, scared and alone. One of the first things the Lord did was to cover their nakedness (Genesis Chapter 3 verse 21). It is a sign of our ongoing rebellion that we find it so appealing to uncover at the drop of a hat!
Our battle to do the right thing is never going to be won. The sinful nature always wins out.
That’s why we need a saviour (Romans Chapter 7 verses 24/5). To engage with the Lord Jesus Christ is foundational to coping with life’s problems be they on-line or off-line.
We have been considering the deceitfulness of sex-offenders in their devious ways. But the Bible broadens it out to what it calls the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews Chapter 3 verse 13).
It is universal – the problem with deception of course is that the one being deceived doesn’t know it is happening to them!
God’s word says it plainly (Romans Chapter 3 verse 23) and there are no exclusions. The good news is that God has in Jesus provided the remedy which he will apply to all who put their faith in Him (Romans Chapter 3 verses 24/26).