Sheriff Shines Spotlight on Harmful Material Marketed to Young Girls

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The book Deal With It! has caused such a stir, even Christie Wood, a Coeur d’Alene City Councilmember, is playing off the controversy to take political potshots at Sheriff Norris.  It appears Wood has taken the position that protecting children from harmful material found on the shelves of our local libraries should not be an area of concern for law enforcement.

On September 21st, the sheriff held a town hall in Hayden, where he covered several subjects from Idaho’s 2023 Legislative Session.  One of those subjects was HB314, The Children’s School and Library Protection Act, which aimed to restrict minor’s access to harmful material in public libraries and schools.  In his presentation, Sheriff Norris highlighted Deal With It! as an example of material that fits the definition of harmful material found in Idaho §18-1514, and he explained that Idaho §18-1515 makes it a criminal offense to disseminate the book to minors.  Norris specified that Idaho §18-1517 gives an affirmative defense to any employee of a public library or school who engages in what would otherwise be a criminal act of disseminating harmful material to minors.  Essentially, the law protects the employees from criminal prosecution for an act that would land a normal adult in serious legal trouble.

Norris specifically noted that the book is marketed to girls as young as 13 years old, and identified page 88 of Deal With It! as meeting the definition of harmful material due to its detailed verbal description of sexual conduct.  Page 88 graphically describes how to perform oral sex on a male, including a discussion of what a girl can or should do when the male ejaculates.   

Further review of Deal With It! shows page 88 only scratches the surface of the harmful content.  The 320 page book was published in 1999, acquired by the Post Falls Library at taxpayer expense, then placed in the teen section for 12-18 year olds, although children with regular library cards can check out any material, regardless of where the material is shelved.  There are local activists who push for minors to have unfettered access to all published material, and they defend Deal With It! and similar books as educational publications helping girls understand the biological process of female puberty.  Parents who seek to protect their children from being sexualized, find it difficult to see how graphic descriptions of oral sex, girl-on-girl sex, sexual positioning, and masturbation fall under that category.  Even the library’s description of the book clearly states it’s sex instruction – for girls as young as 12.

A concerned citizen group known as has identified 93 pages of material in Deal With It! that are unsuited for consumption by minors; including page 108 where advice is given to young girls about the use of sex toys when copulating with other girls, pages 133-144 which promotes queer sexuality in graphic detail, and page 89 which goes so far as to provide a visual depiction of cartoon lips pointed toward female genitalia while describing oral sex on a female.

Deal With It! is by no means an anomaly available to kids in our local libraries.  Coeur d’Alene Library has many comparable books, which contain harmful material and are accessible by children of any age. Red Hood depicts minors engaged in lurid sexual activity, promotes promiscuity and violence.  Nick and Charlie is a book that contains sexual activities between minor boys, and controlled substance abuse by minors.  Sex is a Funny Word, a book marketed to 8-10 year olds, contains graphic illustrations of sexual nudity, gender identity, and masturbation.  Changing You! encourages innocent children under the age of 11 to touch themselves and explore their bodies sexually.  Lighter Than My Shadow is a graphic novel with images that depict frequent obscene sexual activities, sexual assault, nudity, and self-harm, involving anorexia, cutting, and suicidal ideations.

The crème de la crème of the harmful books found on the shelves of the teen section in the Coeur d’Alene Library goes to Let’s Talk About It.  Containing over 40 pages of obscene or pornographic images, Let’s Talk About It illustrates anal, penile, and vaginal masturbation, encourages children to view porn online, encourages sexting and alternative lifestyles like polyamory, swinging, and promiscuity.

Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls Libraries also shelf a collection of material from author Ellen Hopkins.  With titles including Traffick, Glass, Identical, Impulse, People Kill People, Smoke, and The You I’ve Never Known, the Hopkins collection contains themes of explicit sexual activities between adults and minors, nudity, sexual assault and child molestation, violence, self-harm, suicidal ideations, child abuse and the romanticisation of drug and alcohol abuse.

Marty Modance is a retired 24-year veteran of Washington State Department of Corrections as a senior probation and parole officer, who spent the last three years of his career supervising sex offenders, predominantly child molesters. Modance stresses that material such as the Hopkins collection give groomers a way to normalize deviancy. “These books neutralize a child’s natural instincts to protect themselves. Adults predators use language found in these books to confuse children, making them vulnerable and ripe for abuse,” Modance explains. “That is what makes these books so insidious”.

With children being fed a steady diet of harmful material depicted in these books, is it any wonder we are experiencing a mental health crisis in our youth community?

Pediatrician Renata S. Moon, MD emphatically opposes a child’s access to material that damages their innocence. “The mental health of our nation’s children has plummeted off a cliff.  They are confused.  Many are depressed, anxious, suicidal, and no longer have hopes and dreams for a happy life,” asserts Dr. Moon. “Groups like Clean Books 4 Kids help to protect kids by raising awareness of the harmful material found in children’s libraries”. Moon is referencing a local group of concerned citizens who have have created a website to raise public awareness of books found in our local libraries which contain harmful material.

Conrad Woodall is a retired police officer who holds a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology.  He states, “Research has consistently demonstrated exposing children to pornography is harmful in profound ways”.  He went on to explain that, “libraries across the country seem complacent about maintaining standards that expose children to sexually explicit and pornographic material, despite the fact that this will likely create more risk of sexual abuse for children”.  Woodall cited sources from the Center for Disease Control and The College of American Pediatricians where statistics show there are staggering numbers of peer-to-peer child sexual abuse, as well as adult sexual abuse of children.

This is the reality that faces Sheriff Norris.  As a law enforcement officer, it is his duty to ensure the safety and welfare of the children in our community.  Material that creates an environment where minors explore their sexuality on their nonconsenting peers, or younger children, and adults who use the material to desensitize and abuse children, is a concern for our Sheriff.