Sarah J Hurley

GDPR: Are You Ready?

As of May 25, 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) takes place. While the regulation is an EU one, coming from the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), it pertains to U.S. companies operating within the EU and/or handling EU citizens’ data.

Data breaches result in heavy collateral damage to companies including the loss of customers and plummeting stock value. According to the 2017 Ponemon Cost of Data Breach Study, U.S. businesses lose an average of $3.6 million per data breach. The Equifax data breach led to the company’s stock price falling by about 20% while Yahoo’s sale price was reduced by $350 million when it was damaged by the largest breach in history.

In addition to these losses, the GDPR allows for individuals to bring claims and receive compensation if they have suffered damage as a result of noncompliance. Further, the GDPR allows for hefty fines, including $22 million or 4% of a company’s global revenue—whichever is higher.

 The ICO moves the compliance needle further away from a tick mark on a compliance checklist and more toward full-integration into the framework of a company’s privacy and operational culture.  GDPR stipulates that companies maintain adequate data records; notify regulators in the event of data breaches; ensure customers the right to be forgotten; and enable customers to take their data with them.

To meet these requirements, you’ll need to document what personal data you collect and hold, as well as where it came from and with whom it was shared. If your organization doesn’t have current procedures in place for these things, it may require an information audit. You’ll also need procedures in place to detect, report and investigate data breaches. It’s not uncommon for organizations to identify a data breach months afterward. If you fail to report a breach in a timely manner, even by accident, you can be fined $11 million or 2% of “global turnover”. Again, whichever is higher.

Further, you must appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO) if you are a public authority, conduct monitoring of individuals (e.g., online behavior tracking for marketing purposes) or process (or are involved with processing) sensitive data, like health or criminal records. A Data Protection Officer cannot have a dual role as CTO or another position that may create a potential conflict of interest.

Another expansive requirement within the GDPR includes the provision of more information to customers, including data retention and the consumer complaint process to the ICO. The provision also allows for additional customer rights to access their data, correct inaccuracies, erase their data, and transfer their data safely. These requests must be completed within 30 days and free of charge (although there are contingencies for excessive requests). Finally, there must be parameters in place to protect from direct marketing and profiling including changes to consent as GDPR clearly states that consent must be clear and involve an affirmative action. This effectively bans pre-checked opt-in boxes and mandates that consent be separate from other terms and conditions.

As the deadline approaches, is your company ready?

With stringent requirements and hefty fines, it’s no surprise that a 2017 GDPR Preparedness Pulse Survey conducted by Pricewater Cooper Consulting found that 92% of respondents considered GDPR compliance a top priority within their data privacy and security agendas while 77% planned to allocate at least $1 million toward the effort.

While we’ve captured some of the key requirements here, this blog is by no means exhaustive. Make sure you’re up to speed on all the changes and requirements. At SmartFile, it is our goal to support our customers to the best of our ability. We will continue to provide top-notch service and support to all we serve.

Let My Child Fail

Isn’t it amazing how two kids from the same gene pool can be so completely different from one another in almost every way? For instance, my stepdaughter is organized, studious, inquisitive, and works well independently. My stepson is funny, polite, thoughtful, and likes being in front of a crowd. He does not, however, work well independently. In fact, homework has been an ongoing challenge.

His last years in elementary school were, at times, very frustrating when attempting to help him with homework. He would lay his head down for an hour, sigh loudly, and outright complain. By the end of fifth grade, I was tired of it. I felt like I was doing all the work, which wasn’t helpful. He had a big project that was to account for a significant portion of his grade. The assignment consisted of writing a story about someone of his choosing; he chose his father. The assignment had multiple parts to it and lasted over the course of several months. I knew Language Arts may very well be his least favorite subject, but the content was his choice and the research consisted of simply asking his dad and other relatives questions and gathering some pictures.

One day after battling it out with him for over an hour, I told him I was done. I told him his mom and dad and I would not be there when he’s grown to stand over the top of him and force him to do what was expected of him. I told him we all have choices to make and there are consequences to those choices; some are good and some are bad. I told him I was going to allow him to choose whether or not he wanted to complete the assignment and I would push, help, nag, and cajole no more. I gave him a day to make a decision. The next day (after filling in dad and bio mom), I asked him what his choice was and he stated that he was not going to complete the assignment. I said okay.

I reached out to his teacher to give him a head’s up and let him know what conversations were had at home. I was certain the teacher would understand and appreciate the need for children at that age to reap the natural consequences of their decisions and learn valuable life lessons about decision-making and responsibility. After all, not one person has ever been denied college entrance due to a failing fifth grade Language Arts assignment, and I felt this lesson was better learned in fifth grade than in high school.

Was my stepson pleased as punch about not having to work on his story every day for the next month? Yes. Was he okay with receiving a failing grade in that class? I think it wasn’t ideal, but he would suffer that part of the consequence since it meant he was home-work free for quite a while. But do you know what he didn’t think about? He didn’t think about the day when all the kids get dressed up and present to a classroom full of their peers and all their parents where he would be sitting there by himself – the only one not dressed up, the only one to not present (which he loves), and the only one whose parents were not in attendance. And he would have been utterly embarrassed. What kid likes that? He would also have to deal with his teacher’s disappointment in him (who was well-respected), and the looks from his classmates.

Imagine my surprise, then, when his teacher refused to accept my stepson’s choice. The teacher stated that it wasn’t fair to the other kids who put in the hard work to complete the assignment, especially during the allotted times at school they were given to work on it. He talked about my stepson having a sense of accomplishment at the end. He said he would have a teacher’s aid help my stepson and allow him to turn in the assignment late. Not helpful.

The next day, my stepson came home with interview questions clearly written by an adult.

I don’t question this teacher’s passion or his heart and I think he is a good man. I actually don’t think he handled it differently than many teachers today would have, and I know teachers are under uber-pressure. But I have to ask the question: when did we stop allowing our children to fail? When did we all start bailing out our kids at every turn, attempting to stave off bad feelings and unintended consequences? And I have another question: how is that working out for them?

Do you let your children fail? Have you ever been thwarted by a well-meaning individual in doing so?

She Said, “Vagina”! 7 Reasons You Should Call Your Kids’ Private Parts By Their Proper Names

Several years ago, my now five-year-old (she was two or three at the time) wandered into the bathroom as I was putting on make-up and my husband was getting out of the shower. Upon seeing my husband, she put her hand over mouth and started giggling. When we asked her what she was laughing at she pointed to my disrobed husband and said in a giggly voice, “You’ve got something sticking out of your vagina!” I told her the proper name for what she saw and kept moving on with our business of the day. We began keeping tighter boundaries on bathroom privacy after that incident.

Many people wonder whether or not they should call their young ones’ “private parts” by nicknames or by their proper anatomical name. The vast amount of options for nicknames includes the more ubiquitous (wiener, willy, pee pee, etc.) and the downright ambiguous (pocketbook, turtle, hoo-ha, etc.). So what is the right way to go? Most experts agree  (such as the American Academy of Pediatrics) the proper anatomical name should be taught. I agree with their stance. Here are 7 reasons why:

  • We don’t come up with nicknames for hands and feet and foreheads. Penises and vaginas are also body parts. Each body part has a name and should be called as such.
  • The idea that proper names shouldn’t come out of a child’s mouth or that it is off-putting to people is an interesting notion and probably says more about the person with the issue and discomfort than it does about the child using proper terminology.
  • If parents are uncomfortable or embarrassed about discussing body parts with their children, the children will pick up on the tension, which could lead down a path to shame and secrecy.
  • There is evil in this world. If, and I pray to God this never happens, your child needs to tell you or a teacher or counselor that they were touched inappropriately, they should be able to say so clearly and articulately. If a child says someone touched his or her “flower”, the actual act could be overlooked, or at the very least confused.
  • It is our responsibility to love and teach our children. Don’t wait until they learn it at school or from another child. Exercise your authority and responsibility to lead your children well.
  • Naming your children’s body parts sets the stage for deeper (albeit much later) conversations about privacy and sexuality. To have these discussions, and to do so with kindness and honor, prepares your child to be comfortable in their own skin and in the image in which they were created.
  • Laying the foundation early for healthy, honest communication will help to ensure that the door stays open as the child grows. Don’t you want to be the one they come to with serious issues and questions? Open, honest communication is an essential part of any relationship – parent/child is no different.

A Gallup poll showed that 67% of parents use the proper anatomical names for body parts with their children. Do you? Why or why not?

The Importance of the Father Role to his Daughter

Fathers, be good to your daughters. Daughters will live like you do….” ~ John Mayer

When most people think of sex trafficking, what often comes to mind is the young Cambodian girl who is sold into slavery by her family. The other image is a young girl kidnapped right off the street, as in the movie Taken. And while these things can and do happen across the world, there is another scenario that is incredibly common: the girl who chooses or is manipulated/coerced into “choosing” to work in the sex industry only to be stripped of her rights and free will and every ounce of free will she thought she may have. Here are a couple real-life examples with a common theme.

Scenario 1
A girl comes from a middle-to-upper-middle-class family with parents who are still married. Her father works many hours. He loves his family, but he is not engaged in his daughter’s life. The father’s tween daughter is contacted online through Facebook by a guy she believes to be close to her age from out of state. At first, she is hesitant to respond, but decides there is no harm in a simple conversation. The guy, however, continues to pursue. He contacts her daily and their relationship grows. He compliments her, tells her how beautiful she is, and how he is falling in love with her. He tells her he will take care of her and love and protect her. He earns her trust over a 6-month period. Finally, he convinces her to lie to her parents and meet him somewhere close to her house. When she gets in his car, she realizes he is much older. He takes her out of state. He then has sex with her before trafficking her and taking every bit of money she “earns”.

Scenario 2
A promiscuous, teenage girl experiments with partying and drugs alongside her troubled young boyfriend before developing a strong addiction to methamphetamine. The girl, who had an absent father, was drawn to boys and to relationships and sex in an attempt to gain the security she never felt she had. The boyfriend tells the girl he is very sick, and needs money for drugs and a place to stay for the next few nights. He asks her to sleep with a couple of his friends to help him out, just once. She is hesitant, but doesn’t want to risk losing the only guy in her life so she complies. The money runs out in a couple days, however, and the boyfriend asks again. This time, the girl says no, but the boyfriend physically assaults her and tells her to do it anyway. He takes physical control of her from that point forward.

Scenario 3
A girl with a background of molestation takes a job at a local strip club. At 20 years old, she is attractive and has learned she can use her body to make money. She subconsciously believes in doing so, she can at least be in control of her body in a way that she was not able to through her sexual abuse. The money is good and she has no one in her life to hold her accountable, let alone show her love. Her baseline for love is distorted and so she believes one of her clients that say he wants to date her and take care of her outside the club. He tells her he has an opportunity for her overseas. If she will go to Europe for 3 months and work for an escort service, she will make enough money to get by for the next couple years. Then, she can come back and be with him and get out of this life; live happily ever after. The jump from stripping to prostitution in what was described to her as an exotic and glamorous environment does not seem that severe so she agrees. When she arrives in Europe, however, her passport and papers are taken from her and she is taken to a hotel where she is under lock and key and forced to have sex with 10-12 men a day in a tiny room. She never sees any of the money and has no escape.

Fathers
Do you see the theme here? Every one of these scenarios, which are from real life, are similar in that the role the girl’s father played was, at best, disengaged and/or absent, and at worst, unhealthy and dysfunctional. Are there girls who get drawn into trafficking that had good, healthy relationships with their fathers? Sure, they’re out there. Trafficking crosses every ethnicity and socio-economic range. But by and large, you show me a girl who works in the sex industry or is a victim of trafficking, and I will show you a girl who didn’t have the relationship with her father that The Lord designed. I’ll show you a girl that was desperate to be seen and known and loved. And as one pimp said, “you can smell their desperation.” It’s not that difficult for a predator to identify his victim.

The role a father plays in the life of his daughter is critical. It is the baseline, the foundation, for every other relationship she has with a man. Fathers, you set the bar. Set it high. Be present and engaged in your daughter’s life. Know what she’s doing online. Show her love by spending time with her, hugging her, praying with and for her,listening to her and encouraging her. Let her know the expectations of the man who will one day replace you as the man in her life. Because, guess what? He may be a lot like you.

Take A Personal Inventory
1.) When was the last time you spent one-on-one time with your daughter?

2.) What are your daughter’s favorite things? What does she love? Can you easily answer or are you completely stumped?

3.) How do you treat your wife? Your marriage is the example to your daughter for how a woman should be treated by a man. Would you want your daughter married to someone just like you?

4.) Do you participate in our hyper-sexualized culture (i.e.Regularly viewing pornography, allowing unfiltered access to graphic movies, shows, and song lyrics for your family, letting your daughter wear inappropriate clothing, etc.)?

These are tough questions, dad. I know. And if you don’t parent perfectly (and none of us do), don’t think your daughter is going to automatically end up in one of the aforementioned scenarios. But please do understand the role you play in your daughter’s life. It doesn’t matter if you are married or divorced. It is never too late. Make a commitment and prayerfully consider areas in which you need to adjust. Your daughter will thank you for it.

CATCH Court: A new Approach to the Oldest Profession

In a small municipal courtroom in Columbus, Ohio, a group of thirty-some people converses over lunch amidst hugs, smiles, and encouragement. In attendance are CATCH Court participants, a couple CATCH Court graduates, drop-outs who are drawn back in, volunteers, and mentors. I am introduced to the group who listens attentively and acknowledges my presence.
After about an hour, a staff member (who is also a licensed social worker) comes in and leads the women through a group exercise. She tells the women she loves them all and talks about “running amok.” She is direct and firm, and yet somehow very loving and nurturing. She is a woman who knows her purpose and seems to have been made for this role. She wraps up her session and takes a seat next to the bench.
Enter Judge Paul Morgan Herbert.
Judge Herbert presides over this municipal court and is the creator of the CATCH Program. CATCH is a 2-year program for women with prostitution charges, most of whom were trafficked. The focus of the program is on long-term, comprehensive care for these women including housing, substance abuse treatment, mental health treatment, and mentoring/relationship.
Prior to CATCH, the recidivism rate for prostitution charges was over 99%. So when Judge Herbert proposed a new program, people let him go for it… once they could contain their laughter. After all, it couldn’t get any worse. Fast forward a little more than 5 years later, and here are some of the outcomes:
  • Twelve percent of CATCH participants have successfully completed the rigorous two-year program <strong>(a 120% improvement).
  • Of those who stay in the program for a minimum of 6 months, 72% incur no future charges.
  • The cost associated with these cases has decreased from $5.5 Million to $200,000. That’s a $4.3 million dollar savings.
Not as many people are laughing now.
Judge Herbert didn’t always champion the human trafficking cause, however. So, what happened? What got him from viewing much of prostitution as the oldest profession to viewing it as the oldest oppression? After praying to God to reveal the purpose of his life, he was in court looking through domestic violence case files. Page after page of beaten and battered women looked up at him with defeat, hopelessness, and despair in their eyes. Then, in walked a woman with a prostitution charge. For the first time, Judge Herbert made the connection. This woman looked the same as a domestic violence victim! Things began to change from there.
Now, if you’re able to sit in on a CATCH Court session, you will hear him say things to the women like, “I’m going to show you grace”, “You’re a precious soul”, “I’m worried about you”, “You’re on the right track. I’m sorry you have to go through this.” And the girls will say things like, “My life looks different today,” and “I play the tape all the way through now. I just do the next right thing”. The court session is part court, part NA meeting, part support group, and it is beautiful and inspiring. The women support and encourage one another and walk through the journey together.
Two points here:
1.) Prostitution and human trafficking are not mutually exclusive. Most prostitutes are trafficking victims. And whether trafficked or not, both have the same risk factors, as well as environmental and relational contributors that lead women to the streets. When 1,500 prostitution arrests are made to one sole arrest for solicitation of a prostitute, something is wrong. Judge Herbert understands that demand must be targeted to ever truly make a difference and he’s got plans for that, as well.
2.) This program works. Whether you look at this program from a cost perspective, a psychosocial perspective, recidivism rate, etc., you can not deny the numbers.
After witnessing CATCH Court in action, speaking to Judge Herbert, partnering agencies and NGO’s, and CATCH Participants (both current and previous), I am a believer. I hope this program springs up throughout the country and I hope Indianapolis is next.

To the guy on Twitter

The other day, I “Tweeted” (actually, I “Facebooked”, but it’s linked to my Twitter account so it posted there, as well) about Holy Audacity. The post basically talked about being bold and expecting God to move in bold ways. Someone I don’t know responded with a sarcastic remark, insulting Christians for what he perceived to be a lack of critical thinking skills. I considered several initial responses, none of which would have represented Jesus well. I decided to exercise a little self-control, take a step back, and really consider the matter.

And him, the guy on Twitter who responded to my tweet.

There is just no way to defend my faith or address the critical thinking issue in 140 characters or less. Even if there were, I firmly believe that if you state something in 140 characters when you could do it in 14,000, well, you’re just not trying hard enough. But then again, I should probably listen more than I speak.

So, guy on Twitter, the rest of this is for you. By the way, I’m protecting your identity – not because of my vast audience (I have none. Okay, I have One), but simply out of respect for you.

My initial reaction to your tweet was anger, which may or may not have been your intent, but my pride is penetrating and deep and you struck a nerve. Once that subsided, however, I went to a different place; I wanted to convince you what you said was inaccurate and present another side. I thought about responding and simply telling you to have a nice day or posting some sort of respectful rebuttal. I wanted to somehow convey to you that not only do I possess critical thinking skills, but I also have done a fair amount of research and really do appreciate Apologetics, as well as a good debate (there’s a little of that pride again – I knew that would be the main thing conveyed in any response from me). No matter what I came up with, I don’t think it would have swayed you to believe in Jesus. Nor will your comments sway me to not believe. So then I decided to leave it be.

For like 3 days.

Because here’s the thing. I don’t know you, but I wonder if we were at a dinner party, or in a crowded restaurant, and you heard me talking about the concept of Holy Audacity, I wonder if you would have approached me in the same way you did on Twitter. I don’t know you so maybe you would have. But I wonder. And that is the problem with social media.

I would love to enter into a discussion on faith, and God, and philosophy, and science. The problem is, though, that conversations about those topics are just that – conversations. Those types of conversations are best had in person. And before we ventured down that path, I would want to get to know you some. And I’d like you to have the opportunity to get to know me. Maybe if you did, you would see me as someone as opposed to something: a faceless entity or an anonymous simpleton. Perhaps if I got to know you, I would see that you are so much deeper than a snide remark. You are someone. In time, we could get to know each other as people, learn about our pasts and our future aspirations, about our hopes and fears, our interests and hobbies, our favorite movies and pet peeves. We could gain an insight and understanding of our life events, our challenges, struggles, and successes: the things in life that shaped and scarred us, created our worldview and made us who we are today.

At some point, we could sit with a warm cup of coffee and settle in for a talk. The kind of talk that hopes all things and shares all things and lasts for hours; lasts so long that you wonder where the time has gone. I would want to know you- who you are, what you’re all about. I would share who I am. Not as a social media presence, but as a person: a someone. Only then could we really engage in meaningful discussion. And there is so much to talk about, isn’t there? It’s not as simple as a tweet. It would hopefully be the first of many talks and discussions, with both sides weighing in, exchanging thoughts, asking questions and neither knowing all the answers.

Maybe, in the end, things would be different. Maybe nothing would change. Maybe more questions would be posited, and new things would be considered and worldviews would be challenged. Maybe we would agree to disagree, but with a new-found respect and mutual consideration. Maybe you would think you wasted your time on the lady on Twitter with no critical thinking skills. With only 140 characters or less between us, I don’t think we’ll ever know. Social media is positive in some ways, but when it comes to conversations between people like us, technology can fail.

I do hope you give someone the chance to have these types of discussions, though. If you’ve tried and found them lacking, that really is too bad. It is true that so many of us aren’t prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have, a defense for our faith. I hope you come across someone that does, and if you do, I hope you will give them a chance. I hope you can sit down with a hot coffee or a cold beer and settle in for the type of talk that resonates with you deep inside your soul, the kind of talk that stays with you forever; an eternity.

Robin Williams: That he may Contribute a Verse

Heartbroken and crushed. This describes so many of our hearts this morning with the news of Robin Williams’ tragic death. I wept yesterday as I heard the news: apparent suicide by asphyxiation. We hear of celebrity deaths with relative frequency, and while each life is a loss, some register on a more personal level than others. Robin Williams is especially hurtful to me, and it appears that he is to others, as well. I don’t know what it is that registers with each of us so heavily.

It could be the range of his talent; trained at Juliard and masterfully easing in and out of a wide range of characters, from improvisational, high-speed humor to deeply emotional portrayals. I think of his stand-up act where he enters the stage, looking out into the atmosphere and proclaiming, “The moon, like a testicle, hangs low in the sky.” I think of my two favorite movies of all time: Good Will Hunting and Dead Poets Society. In Good Will Hunting, Robin gives a young Matt Damon a lesson on what it means to live and to feel. One of my favorite scenes ever in a movie is when he tells Damon’s character that the abuse he suffered wasn’t his fault, to which Damon says he knows. What happens from there is so powerful I cry every time I see it. (Note: this scene does contain strong language).

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In Dead Poets Society, Williams is a masterful teacher, both of poetry and life. His performance and that movie contain some of my favorite things in life: teaching, reading, poetry, mentoring and going against the grain. There are so many scenes from which to choose, but these two captures most of what I just said:

Maybe what resonates so deeply with me is his eyes. Robin Williams had the kindest eyes. There’s a scene in the movie City of Angels where, after Meg Ryan dies, Nicolas Cage and Dennis Franz are sitting together at a table, neither of them speaking, not needing to speak. They simply look into one another’s eyes, into one another’s souls, and that says everything that needs to be said. I feel like that when I look into Robin Williams’ eyes. Like it’s a glimpse into his soul and there is so much there.

Maybe it’s the fact that I understand addiction and, to an extent, depression. I’ve never wanted to kill myself, but I have spent seasons of life in which I did not want to get out of bed; I simply plodded through the days putting one foot in front of the other, catastrophic news, exceptional news, and grocery lists all registering the same to me on an emotional scale and biding the time until I could return to sleep again. There was comfort in sleep. It is kind of like in Queen’s song “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “I don’t want to die. I sometimes wish I’d never been born at all.” There’s so much in the world right now: deadly plagues, innocent children being slaughtered, corruption, civil unrest, tear gas in our streets, and the smaller, personal, everyday tragedies. I identify with his willingness to continue to fight in his announcement that he was returning to rehab a month ago to avoid a relapse and I identify with his hopelessness that then led to his crossing a line from which he can never return. Maybe it’s the fact that he took his life at the age of 63. The only other person I know that committed suicide so late in life was my grandfather. Although statistics prove me wrong (45-64-year-old white males have the highest rate of suicide according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), I intuitively think that with age comes a wisdom and experience that says that no matter how bad things are, and no matter how good things are, they will change. This too shall pass. And, after all, he’d made it through most of his life.

Whatever it is, the loss of Robin Williams to suicide is heart-breaking. Although his father was Episcopalian and his mother was a Christian Scientist, I don’t know where he stood in terms of faith. I know in the play of life he certainly contributed a verse. I pray God has mercy on his soul and that he’s experiencing what he hoped would be at the end in heaven when he was asked by James Lipton on Inside the Actor’s Studio: he’s in a front-row seat listening to Mozart, and Elvis, and an artist of his choosing, and God tells him a joke that begins with, “Two Jews walk into a bar….”.

I also pray that for anyone struggling with depression, especially those who may be considering suicide as an option, that you talk to someone. Remember that you matter. You matter to your family. You matter to your friends. And you especially matter to God. Please get help. Call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

The Weinstein Effect: A Blessing or a Curse?

Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis C.K., Dustin Hoffman, John Conyers, Roy Moore, Al Franken, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, James Toback, Mark Halperin, Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck,…

These are a just a few of the names of men in Hollywood, Media, Business, and Politics who have been accused of sexual harassment and/or assault in the past two months. Since the Weinstein scandal broke on October 5th and #MeToo became popularized by actress Alyssa Milano the next day on Twitter (with original credit going to Turana Burke), hundreds of names have been publicly declared in the U.S. alone, while the #MeToo movement has moved across more than 85 countries with millions of women and men sharing their stories.In fact, the #MeToo movement was just named yesterday as Time’s Person of the Year for 2017.

While many are celebrating the success of what is being called The Weinstein Effect in terms of victims coming forward and being heard, the issue taking a major stage in pop culture, news, and media, and a seemingly newfound accountability for these inappropriate actions, others consider the implications of politicizing sexual assault and whether they should worry about how to engage in their personal work lives and office culture—not to mention the question around what is or isn’t factual. Both sides have merit and should be addressed in the current cultural conversation.

Previously powerful, untouchable predators are now being exposed. A story just broke this morning that Harvey Weinstein is now facing a class action lawsuit and may be charged with the new crime of racketeering while he is also alleged by British actress and model Kadian Noble to have engaged in sex trafficking with her stemming from a 2014 incident in Cannes. Weinstein is accused of using intimidation, coercion, and even spies during named operations to keep alleged victims and the media silent to maintain his powerful status and position—not just within the Hollywood elite, but also the political elite. Women were promised roles and fame in return for sexual acts and they were alleged to have been requirements, at times, for the fulfillment of said promises.

Matt Lauer is alleged to have locked a coworker in his office while he sexually assaulted her over a chair until she passed out and a nurse was called. Other allegations included an incident at the Sochi Olympics from which there is said to be photo and digital evidence. Matt Lauer was the face of NBC’s the Today Show. Matt Lauer had even previously grilled Fox News star Bill O’Reilly about his own allegations of sexual harassment and resulted firing from the network.

Even 93-year-old former President George H.W. Bush Sr. has had several people come forward with stories of him fondling them and joking about it in front of a room of witnesses. And let’s not forget the 1989 “callboy” scandal that had ties to Lawrence King and the Franklin Credit Union underage prostitution/trafficking ring that reached all the way to the White House. Perhaps that story would have received more attention today.

More and more people of all classes, races, gender, and ethnicity are gaining the courage and strength to speak up. RAINN (The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) the country’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, reported a 21% increase in calls the month after the Weinstein scandal broke. Actors James Van Der Beek, Terry Crews, and Anthony Rapp are three men who have spoken out and shared their stories as male victims of sexual harassment and/or assault. In Indianapolis, two young girls accused city councilman Jeff Miller of giving them massages, patting their behinds, and touching the skin on their back under their shirt and the area where the leg and groin meet. They decided to share this with their parents after seeing all the recent news stories.

While there is much to celebrate right now, there are also things of which to be leery. Or, at least, we must not forget to think critically.

93.1 WIBC Radio Host, Tony Katz, spoke on his show about being concerned about workplace culture and how to engage with female employees. He had no concern over him acting inappropriately, but rather whether his actions could ever be perceived as such and he didn’t want to even put himself in a position where that could be a question. Other conversations I’ve had with men this week have introduced questions about where the line is drawn (is it an off-color joke? An inquiry about the status of a marriage?) and even whether male employers may become nervous about making female hiring decisions. In yet another conversation, a man told me he’s confused because he, himself, has been the target of an attempted sexual assault and yet he feels like he is viewed as the predator.

Is the pendulum beginning to swing too far?

The Wikileaks page on the Weinstein scandal lists hundreds of names of people who have been accused since the story broke in October. Several of the names say “one person accused them of sexual harassment and he denies the charge”. Really? What if that particular allegation is false? What if the harassment was an invitation to drinks after work? We have no idea and yet this man’s name is publicly listed along with Harvey Weinstein and Matt Lauer by an unnamed accuser. This is just one area where the line begins to blur.

We have to be aware that women have made exaggerated and outright false allegations (e.g. Duke Lacrosse, the University of Virginia, multiple men released from prison due to DNA testing,etc.). Newsweek ran a story two years ago about what’s happened on college campuses where the accused seem to be convicted with no real questions or presumption of innocence and the accusers are immediately believed. This has real consequences to real lives just as there are real consequences to actual sexual assault. It’s not an all or nothing. We don’t have to shame true victims and we also don’t have to jump on a mob mentality and rush to judgment. To do so detracts from the serious issue of sexual trauma and corrodes any progress that may have been made of late.

Another challenge that makes for murky waters is the apparently subjective nature of just what constitutes sexual harassment and sexual assault. These laws vary from state to state and can be as clear as non-consensual sexual penetration and rape and as broad as any behavior (a glance, a joke, etc.) that makes an individual feel harassed. So we have created a truly bizarre situation in which we live in a hyper-sexualized culture where sex is casualized, we are constantly inundated with sexual images, and we are told any limits to sexual appetites or orientation marginalizes and sexual morality is passé or Puritanical. We even have organizations devoted to normalizing pedophilia (such as NAMBLA) and proposing eliminating age requirements for sex, or others (Virtuous Pedophiles) seemingly less innocuously pleading for empathy for pedophiles and arguing publicly—and with more frequency—that most pedophiles don’t offend, occur with the same frequency as homosexuality, and are marginalized as such. On the other side of this coin, if anything—anything at all— makes someone feel harassed, they can file a charge. Of course, one can always make an allegation without pursuing it, as well. How confusing is this world in which we live?

Please hear me. Many, many people who have been victims of sexual harassment and/or assault have been afraid to come forward or have been personally attacked or discredited for attempting to do so. This is wrong at every level. But we can not expect to create an environment in which all things are acceptable and yet nothing is depending on the subjective feelings of the individual. Bradeis College Title IX Coordinator allegedly told students at a sexual assault forum that “regret equals rape”. While the college denies this, it leads to a sexual assault filing by a female student who seduced a male student and later regretted it. I wonder how many people reading this have regret over a sexual decision they have made. Regret doesn’t feel good. And when feelings are the barometer for what constitutes sexual harassment—or even rape—as opposed to what AT TIMES should be indicators of bad decisions and the consequences thereof, one can avoid responsibility and accountability by becoming the victim, which makes someone else the problem. As a survivor of commercial sexual exploitation, rape, childhood sexual molestation, and workplace sexual harassment, I understand the fear of speaking out, the utter emotional destruction of being blamed and seeing nothing come as a result of speaking my truth. As an adult who has made other sexual decisions for which I alone am responsible and regret deeply, I accept what is my own to carry. And I know there is a difference.

After having worked with sex trafficking victims for the past 6 years, I am disappointed that there is talk of leveling sex trafficking charges against Harvey Weinstein for what is alleged to be a sexual assault. There is a difference.

Is it too much to ask that we think critically and speak knowledgeably?

But wait! There’s more. How did this topic become so politicized and polarizing all of a sudden? Why was it necessary or helpful for Time Magazine, in what could have been a great setting for a thoughtful conversation, to blame one political party for not responding to sexual harassment claims as well as the other? Why was it necessary for them to bring in third and fourth-wave feminism and the women’s march in January of 2017? To include these areas politicizes the issue and further (intentionally?) divides people on what could and should be a non-partisan issue.

The water is murky.

Sex trafficking has seen much greater awareness in recent years; According to reddit.com, there have been 6,355 sex trafficking arrests so far this year; Strip club and street prostitution outreach groups have expanded exponentially; more than 85 countries have climbed onboard the #MeToo train to share stories of sexual harm, some celebrities, and high-profile cases have opened the door to a conversation, an awareness, and accountability that has rarely been seen. But, people are beginning to diverge from what could be an amazing opportunity for awareness and change. There is a lot at stake. Let’s be wise in how we proceed.

Protecting Our Youth in A Hyper-Sexualized Culture

Do you ever feel like you live on an island? Like your morals and beliefs and core values are different from the rest of the world?

Sometimes I have to turn off the news because I have a physical and emotional response to the constant barrage of scandal, tragedy, and division. I have to be diligent about the shows my daughter watches on Netflix and channels that are allegedly children’s channels and the nearly exhaustive amount of content that is available to her. Even something as mundane and seemingly innocent as checking out at the grocery store elicits the need for vigilance as women’s magazine highlighting articles like Best Sex Ever or Positions That Will Make Him Go Crazy In Bed surround my children and me as we wait in line—not to mention the bare-midriff, full cleavage model or actress on the cover. Then we pile into the car and nearly every song that comes on the radio is a direct reference to sex or activities in which I would not encourage my children to partake.

When I really pay attention to my surroundings, when I’m present and not distracted by my own thoughts, my To Do list or my phone, and I actually see the world going on around me, it’s easy to feel like I’m a stranger living on an island unto myself and to become discouraged. Admittedly, working with women who have been sexually exploited may make me more sensitive to such things.

Someone recently posted a Facebook meme showing the girl who became famous on Dr. Phil for saying “Cash me ousside…How bow dah?” and intimating her next step would be doing porn, to which another person commented, “I hope so.”

It has now become socially acceptable to laugh at a troubled, thirteen-year-old girl doing porn.

There has recently been debate as to whether the increased number of trafficking cases has been a result of actual increased activity or increased awareness. I don’t know that we know the answer to that, but much like what we’ve learned about nature versus nurture (epigenetics), I think it may be a little of both.

The increased awareness of sex trafficking has certainly led to more arrests and convictions that previously went unnoticed or were solely focused on the person performing the act as opposed to the context and circumstances of the event. However, as we watch the line of “propriety” get pushed farther and farther, it is easy to see how sex has become casualized to the extent that many believe selling their bodies is actually a viable option. Everything we see points to this lie; we accept the lie as truth; then we’re left wondering how our children are being lured by predators.

When the Cloud Isn’t Enough

Anyone over the age of twenty-three, who has used computers consistently, can probably recall a time when technology failed them in a tangible way. A friend recalled an instance more than ten years ago where they were burning the midnight oil (sans Adderall—can you imagine?), trying to complete a client project that was due the next day. They had spent hours upon hours researching and adding to their burgeoning file when—all of a sudden—their system crashed!

File. Gone. Forever.

If you can recall an event similar to this, your heart may have just skipped a beat as you empathetically identified with this scenario at a deep, personal level. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this make the Mindset List Beloit College prepares every year for incoming Freshmen in the next couple years. If you aren’t familiar with the Mindset List, click here. It’s fascinating.

Fortunately, individuals and businesses alike experience the benefits of today’s rapidly-changing technology like never before. While the nightmare-inducing story described above rarely happens now (at least it shouldn’t if you aren’t living under a rock) due to file back-up, sharing, and management solutions, the particular needs within that solution continue to evolve and redefine per business.

For instance, the cloud initially met the business demand for safe file back-up, storage, and management. However, many of the larger enterprises and institutions now have restrictions on cloud storage for different reasons, such as the risk of file access by a third party (namely the vendor), the business requirement to maintain something behind their own firewall, or other issues specific to the needs of an individual business’s policies or requirements.

For this reason, on-premise solutions are a more recent offering. On-site appliances and virtual file management servers hosted behind a company’s firewall allow System Administrators to manage files hosted natively on their network storage, FTP Servers, Windows servers, etc. while allowing end users to experience the features and tools they desire and the company to meet its business regulatory and compliance requirements as well as maintain accordance with internal policies.

A perfect solution, such as FileHub, will also support scalability as it easily integrates and grows with your business. A perfect solution will also be up and running on your network in a matter of days as opposed to months, freeing you up to focus on other matters – like catching up on the Mindset List. Speaking of which, is it really possible that the college class of 2021 has never heard of a dial-up modem?