Can Mama Bears Make a Difference? 10 Fierce Women Who Defend Kids Online

Can Mama Bears Make a Difference? 10 Fierce Women Who Defend Kids Online

Moms all over the world are fighting tooth and nail to protect their kids from the threats technology poses today. From overuse of tech, to access to dangerous pornography and predators, there are so many opportunities for families to prepare to be safe and strong!

These moms, just like you, are doing what they can to influence their own homes and communities.

Meet a few of the awesome mothers making the world safer for kids!

Brittany Homer, Raising Today’s Kids

I am passionate about helping children and families succeed in our digital world! I’ve taught internet safety programs at schools, raised awareness about human trafficking, advocated for victims of sexual assault and more. This year I started the podcast Raising Today’s Kids and have also been lobbying for legislation in Montana to confront the public health crisis of pornography. Montana just became the 13th state to pass this resolution!

In the first episode of Raising Today’s Kids I share five moments in my life that led me to what I’m doing today:

  1. My first time in a chat room
  2. Meeting my friend’s young foster brother and wanting to help kids like him
  3. Dreaming about my daughter being molested
  4. Learning about the huge problem of human trafficking and how it’s being fueled by pornography
  5. Sitting in an orphanage in Haiti and feeling a huge hole where parents should have been

I believe in the power of love. Parents need to understand the issues their children face and have tools to address the issues. But most importantly, they need confidence that they are uniquely qualified to parent their children based on the love they have for their kids. When all else fails, just LOVE your kids!

Melissa McKay, Campaign to #fixappratings

For two years I’ve worked on Utah Legislation to protect children from pornography. Recently I started the #fixappratings campaign with several partners to push for more transparent and accurate app ratings and descriptions.

I have so many favorite moments being involved! As hard as this issue is, the people who work in this arena are amazing. Kristen Jenson (founder of Protect Young Minds) was my first mentor and continues to be one of my best supporters.

Protecting kids from porn is a two-part process. Talking to them about pornography, and having a warm and open relationship with them is the first key. I’ve been reading Good Pictures Bad Pictures with my kids for years.

The second part is doing your best to minimize access. Because children don’t have fully developed brains, they need protection. Taking time to educate yourself about apps, filters, and other parental controls is so critical.

Heather Cowan, White Ribbon Week

13 years ago I realized a loved one had a pornography addiction. Even though my young daughter was just a toddler, I knew I wanted to help empower children to avoid such pain.

When I discovered White Ribbon Week, which teaches children ages 5-12 to use tech in safe, productive ways, I knew that’s how I could help! I plan it at my local elementary school each year. I also help newbie facilitators get their program up and running at their school.

It is one thing to empower your own children, but then to take that further and help out your neighbors and entire school in a fun, easy, positive way is the BEST!

How can moms raise porn-proof kids? Talk Talk Talk! There is power in sharing your stories and helping children realize that everyone sees inappropriate material – and know what to do when they see it. Technology is not going away. We need to teach kids how to navigate it! We can’t be scared of this tech, but keep open, honest conversations going.

In order to keep kids busy, happy, and healthy, I’ve started a new kids summer camp called Kids Go For Gold!

Related: How a Mama Bear is Winning Against the Porn Industry

Eva Gordon, New Social Work Graduate

I was so naive about the harms of porn. I learned about it the hard and painful way. My spouse had an addiction to porn which destroyed our marriage. I learned I needed to work my own recovery to heal from betrayal trauma.

I am so passionate about the recovery and healing process that I went back to school and earned a masters in social work to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). I just graduated on May 1st, 2019!

I take every opportunity to teach parents about the dangers of pornography – preventive tools as well as recovery tools. I have presented at schools, church, and community events such as the Utah Coalition Against Pornography Conference.

This idea is not new, but it is so important: TALK to your kids. Have a plan and role-play the situation of when your kids will see pornography. Check in often and ask “When was the last time you saw or looked at porn”? and then process with them how they felt and what they did; help them feel comfortable talking about it. As normal as asking them “Did you brush your teeth?”

As I found healing in 12-step recovery meetings, I learned to recognize that when my life is unmanageable, there is a higher power that can manage it if I let Him. I allow him to take my fear, pain, anger, frustration, sadness and whatever I might be feeling. I model this process to my kids, and even though they are young they have experienced God’s healing power as we surrender together.

Recently my son was feeling really angry and sad which he expressed with mean comments towards me. I shared with him what I do when I feel angry and sad. I write my feelings down and then call my friend (sponsor) and share my feelings. Then I pray to God and give it to Him. I asked my son “Do you believe He can take those feelings from you?” He said he did. I prayed for both of us since I was also feeling upset and heartbroken to see him in pain. After the prayer, I felt so much love, peace, and serenity. My son was much calmer and willing to follow instructions without resistance.

This is one of many similar experiences I have had with each of my kids. I am not a perfect mom, but recovery has extended to them as I model recovery tools for them.

Mandy Majors, nextTalk

Six years ago, my daughter asked me a highly sexualized question. I didn’t know “this thing” existed until I was a 19-year-old college student. She was nine. In the fourth grade. And, she did not have a phone.

Another child had watched a pornographic video at home and shared the graphic details with her at school.

That was my lightbulb moment that parenting had changed. We’re in new territory. My plan to not give her a phone until she was in high school did not keep her safe. So, I embarked on a journey to find real solutions.

That led me to write an award-winning book called TALK: A Practical Approach to Cyberparenting and Open Communication. I also founded nextTalk, a nonprofit organization helping families build a culture of conversation to keep kids safe in the digital world, and we host the nextTalk Radio Show.

Restrictions and monitoring tools are helpful. But they all have loopholes. Delaying the phone is good, but we can’t delay the conversations. I’ve found a solution that works and has changed our family. It is OPEN COMMUNICATION.

It sounds so simple, but it actually takes years to build the kind of trust and safety families need today.

Melody Bergman, Media Savvy Moms

Like all mamas, I wear many hats. I am co-host of the Media Savvy Moms Podcast, blogger at MamaCrossroads, and an instructor at Defend Yourself Virginia. All these avenues help me teach parents (and kids) how to stay safe online–and in real life too!

In a way, I spent many years as the “Batman” of porn and parenting: Mommy by day and Porn-Fighter by night. In the wake of a shattered marriage due to pornography and sex addiction, I launched into a private journey of healing and anonymous blogging.

After a life filled with trauma and heartache, including childhood sexual abuse, addiction, porn, divorce, single parenting (you name it, I’ve been there), I have an unquenchable desire to tell others: There is hope! You are not alone! We can make it through this!

On the Media Savvy Moms Podcast, we teach parents to “Give your kids a construction site.” This “construction site” is a safe place where we can talk with our kids about anything under the sun. We can throw out ideas, dig deep, bring out heavy equipment, demolish stuff–even bust out the dynamite if needed. Nothing is off limits!

Here are 3 tips to help your “construction site” succeed:

  1. Build a foundation of trust. Concentrate on your relationship first.
  2. Make your child the foreman. Let them ask the questions and decide where the discussion will go next.
  3. Keep on truckin’. The “porn talk” is not a one-and-done conversation. Follow up over and over again.

Be brave. You can do this!

Related: Love Kills Porn! Advice from a Mom Who Cares for One Million Kids

Andrea Davis, Better Screen Time

My husband, Tyler, and I share positive screen time strategies to help parents worry less and connect more with their kids at betterscreentime.com.

It seemed fairly simple to keep technology in check when my oldest kids were young. I didn’t have a smartphone or social media. We kept our TV in the closet, (actually we still do!). We didn’t have Netflix or Amazon Prime.

Then mobile devices and subscription services quickly became mainstream. We gradually adopted some of these things, and now we had five growing kids, including a teenager! I felt lost and confused. How could we hold onto our family culture and still benefit from technology? How could we teach our children to use tech wisely as they grew older?

We talked to other parents and did our research, and began sharing what we learned as we experimented.

In Good Pictures, Bad Pictures, Kristen Jenson shares a fantastic acronym to help kids know what to do when they are exposed to pornography (CAN DO). My husband and I decided to go one step further and help our kids create their own acronym. They decided they wanted to fight a WAR against pornography and when exposed, they will:

  • W = walk away (immediately get out of the situation)
  • A = Alert (tell someone)
  • R = Relax (find another activity to do)

When we involve our kids in the discussion, they are much more likely to retain the ideas we are teaching them!

Kristen Jenson, author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures read-aloud books

I never planned to grow up and write a children’s book about pornography! For me, it was a mother’s tragic story about her 17-year-old son who had sexually molested his younger brothers and sisters that got me started down this road.

The more I discovered how pornography is creating a secret epidemic of addiction and sexual abuse, the more compelled I felt that children needed to be warned. No child deserves to face the porn industry alone! That’s when I started writing the Good Pictures Bad Pictures read-aloud books and founded Protect Young Minds.

Mama bears can be loving guides who go ahead of their children and make sure the trail is safe. That means scouting out where their kids want to go – games, apps, and physical places – to see what dangers are lurking. Then teach kids to stay on the trail and monitor how well they are doing.

So 1) establish yourself as a loving “trail guide”, 2) check out all the places, digital and physical, where your children want to go to learn and play; 3) establish trail rules and boundaries; and 4) provide feedback–acknowledge when your kids follow the rules, provide consequences when they don’t.

That, my dear mamas, is about 30 years of prevention science research in a nutshell!

“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Dina Alexander, Educate Empower Kids

I started Educate and Empower Kids (EEK) after reading about the effects of porn and negative media on kids. As I thought of my kids growing up without the opportunity to be married to a partner who hasn’t been “educated” by porn, it felt like there was a fire inside me. I knew I had to speak to as many parents as possible. I wanted parents to understand the very real hazards of consuming porn, but I also wanted them to have confidence talking about porn, sex, social media, and other topics related to the digital age.

At EEK, we strengthen families living in the digital age. We offer books and other resources that help parents educate their kids about the dangers of pornography, the benefits of healthy sexual intimacy, using technology for good, and how to deconstruct the media that is all around them. In our latest book, Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age we help parents have 30 amazing, timely discussions on social media, changing technologies, LGBTQI issues, integrity, and more.

What’s been most rewarding is the countless people who have thanked us for making these talks simple and doable. How they felt scared, but then realized that they could easily do this. And that is what I want most for parents: to know that they absolutely can talk about anything the world throws at them!

You don’t need to be an expert. Be positive and loving. Let your kids know that you want to talk to them about these important topics because you love and care about them. Your love is what you want them to remember most about these talks!

Related: Police Mom Reveals Secret Weapon to Protect Kids from Porn

Vauna Davis, Protect Young Minds & Reach 10

We raised our kids during the dawn of home internet, so of course, our kids were exposed to things we weren’t prepared for! I saw that families needed more help navigating the challenges of online pornography. I first got involved as director of Utah Coalition Against Pornography. I founded a nonprofit that serves young adults called Reach 10, where we are building a culture of courage, compassion, and connection to overcome the shame, silence and fear that keep people stuck in pornography. I also get to work with Protect Young Minds, and serve as chair for The Safeguard Alliance, a national prevention group.

Here’s a simple tip to strengthen your kids! When a friend wants to show them a video, photo, movie or anything else on a screen, teach kids to ask before they look, “What do you want to show me?” This gives your child a chance to decide if it seems like a safe idea to look, and also lets the friend know that your child has boundaries.

Mothers have a powerful influence

It’s an old saying, but still true, that the hand that rocks the cradle Is the hand that rules the world. Whether or not we take action in public, we are all shaping the lives of our children with our love, and they will create the future world. The impact of mothers is incredible!

Get your free Talk Today, Safer Tomorrow guide to 10 Easy Conversation Starters to begin talking to your kids about staying safe from pornography! Click the image below.

Our Top Posts from 2018: 7 Power-Ups for 2019

Our Top Posts from 2018: 7 Power-Ups for 2019

2018 is nearly over! How do you feel about this year?

What was your first thought? Thumbs up – or thumbs down? Smiley emoji? Frowny face?

4 Questions for appreciating the past and welcoming a bright future

The year’s end is a good time to consider if our kids are thriving in this world of always-on technology and over-sexualized media.

Here are some questions to help you assess how your family is doing. Be sure to give yourself credit for learning and trying – even if it was uncomfortable at times, or you can’t see the results yet!

  1. What are you most grateful for about your family in 2018?
  2. How do you feel about the way your kids are managing their screen time?
  3. What kinds of experiences did your family have helping your kids be ready to reject pornography?
  4. What did you learn this year about the challenges your kids face in our hypersexualized world?
  5. How do you want to help your kids be even better prepared to be safe and strong in 2019? (Tip: reading our top posts below can help you with this!)

When you set clear intentions to help kids make progress next year, powerful things will happen for sure!

The 7 top posts of 2018 for proactive parents and porn-proof kids

Before we move on to 2019, let’s take advantage of the good things that 2018 offered us.

These have been some of our most popular and helpful posts this year. Did your favorite make the cut? If you missed any of them, now is your chance!

So here we go!

Sexual Assault Expert Warns of Heartbreaking Trend Among Children

Parents clearly felt this eye-opening post helped raise awareness on a critical issue, because it was our most read and shared piece this year. Understanding how pornography is influencing the way that kids treat each other is urgently needed in order to protect all kids.

7 Things Your Seven-Year-Old Should Know about Love and Sex

This practical guide lays out the essential things that kids need to know early – probably sooner than you thought! Because in our hypersexualized era, you want to them to learn these things from you before they get confusing messages from dangerous sources such as pornography.

5 Reasons Why Social Media is Not Smart for Middle School Kids

The question of when kids are ready for social media is a big one for families. This post makes some convincing points for the benefits of waiting until kids are older.

5 Sneaky Locations Porn Finds Kids

You probably haven’t considered how risky some of these situations can be for kids. Learn more so you can talk this over with your family – don’t leave them unprepared!

Police Mom Reveals Secret Weapon to Protect Kids from Porn

This officer’s job is to teach other parents how to keep their kids safe online. When she discovered her own 10-year-old son searching for pornography, she called on a powerful concept to help him choose to turn away from such heartless material.

Love Kills Porn! Advice from a Mom Who Cares for One Million Kids

Joy D. Jones (General President of a world-wide children’s ministry) shared 3 ways we can tell our kids “I love you” as we prepare them to reject pornography. Leading with love is definitely the most persuasive way to guide our children!

5 Ways to Teach Kids to Say NO! to Porn with Assertive Communication Skills

Kids who are prepared to recognize pornography and have practiced refusal skills have a great advantage. Parents appreciated this post because it gives practical ways to teach kids to speak up when it matters most.

More power-ups to use this coming year are our read-aloud books, Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids (ages 6-11) and Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds (ages 3-7). Reading these together regularly will help your kids turn away when confronted with pornography.

“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

We hope you have been inspired by this blog round-up! The new year will bring even more great opportunities for us all to make a difference in the lives of kids. Together we can teach children to be strong and safe as they grow in 2019.

Free guide for starting those tough conversations

Wondering what to say? You can get our most popular guide with some great ideas to help you with this! Just click below for your copy of Talk Today Safer Tomorrow: Top 10 Easy Conversation Starters.

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Calling All Fathers! 4 Simple Ways to Raise Confident Daughters

Calling All Fathers! 4 Simple Ways to Raise Confident Daughters

Fathers are super heroes when it comes to raising confident, secure daughters! Involved fathers can even help prevent the sexual exploitation of their daughters.

fathers

That’s the message that Dr. Tim Rarick shares at the United Nations, at national conferences on sexual exploitation and in his classes at BYU-Idaho.

He not only studies father-daughter relationships, but he has real-life experience – he is a dad to 3 daughters and a son.

This post is an abridged and edited version of ideas from  Dr. Rarick’s presentation for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation’s White Ribbon Against Pornography Week in October 2017. Shared with permission.

Did you know fathers are a secret weapon for fighting sexual exploitation?

The importance of the father-daughter relationship is something that is extremely missed in the anti-sexual exploitation movement.

It’s only been in the last 10 or 15 years that we’ve been starting to study fathers and their unique contributions. Of course, I am in no way minimizing mothers! But there is a power (sometimes I call it a superpower) that many fathers don’t realize they have.

I think we’re really good working from the outside in as we combat sexual exploitation, but the role of fathers is all about the inside out.

Both mothers and fathers make unique contributions to their sons and their daughters. What fathers can do for their daughters is different from what mothers can do for their daughters, and the same goes for sons.

Many single moms are doing a wonderful job raising children. They balance feeding their family, taking care of their social and emotional needs and everything else. Single moms everywhere are raising strong, healthy children as they divide parenting or even when a father is not involved.

I also want to recognize what committed fathers can do.

Fathers don’t always do things the same way as mothers, but that doesn’t mean that one parent is less valuable than the other. We shouldn’t assume that dad’s ways of parenting are inferior because he’s a man. I think men get that message a lot when fatherhood is made fun of in sitcoms, ads and other media.

Daughters who have a loving, respectful, active relationships with their father often have an advantage over other girls. The daughter is now being empowered from the inside out. Linda Nielsen, who is the expert on these kinds of relationships, says that studies have shown that dad has a larger contribution on the daughter’s self-esteem than the mom does. The father also has a greater impact on his daughter’s ability to trust, enjoy, and relate well to the men in her life.

When Dads are involved with daughters, girls are far less likely to be sexually active as teens, less likely to struggle with self-worth, and much more likely to develop healthy relationships with men throughout her life. And they are 7 times less likely to become pregnant as teenagers!

We love how this Dove #RealDadMoments video celebrates the wonderful influence of fathers in their children’s lives.

What are the superpowers of involved fathers?

The amazing influence of dads on daughters is not complicated, although it takes commitment. Great things are rarely easy – that is why involved fathers deserve praise and gratitude! Fortunately, every dad who wants to have a lasting influence for good has these tools available.

1. They spend time

When children of varying ages are asked what they appreciate most about their fathers, the most common response is “He spends time with me.”

“In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time.” Dieter Uchtdorf

While special activities are fun and memorable, just being together to work in the yard, go shopping, eat dinner, or read a book are simple ways to build powerful bonds.

2. They lavish attention and affection

Dads often provide the necessities of life. That might include food, water, clothing, a modest home, and a good education. This is a good start, but don’t forget this universal human need: love.

Daughters need to hear that their father loves them. Compliments have a big impact – not only that dad thinks they are beautiful, but that he sees them as smart, creative, capable, strong and so many more powerful qualities! When fathers’ respect their daughters’ thoughts and actions, girls grow in confidence.

When girls become teenagers, that’s a time when dads sometimes distance themselves from daughters. Dads may feel, “Now my daughter is developing sexually and it makes me uncomfortable.” Uninformed parents don’t know what to do about it. But recognizing this dynamic can help dads decide to stay connected during the teen years when daughters will really need their guidance and love.

Don’t miss our free inventory of emotional needs at the end of this post to help you be aware of what your child needs to feel safe and loved.

3. They teach social skills

Girls love to hear from fathers about dating, love, and building healthy relationships. Daughters who have a strong, positive relationship with fathers are more likely to form healthy relationships with men, and far more likely to develop a healthier view of intimacy and sexuality. Again, hitting the problem from the inside out so girls develop a healthier, stronger view of self.

4. They protect and defend

Super dads guard against intrusion of threats both from without and within the home. While they protect daughters from dangerous people and physical threats, today they also teach girls to be safe interacting online, to use technology wisely and to choose good entertainment.

Children benefit when both fathers and mothers teach their children what to do when they see pornography. Good Pictures Bad Pictures makes it easy!

Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures…I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents! –Amazon Review, March 14, 2014. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.

Daddy-daughter dates

Taking time for a fun one-on-one activity is one way that many dads direct some time, attention and affection to their growing daughters. Dr. Rarick shares this story:

After a lovely evening of going to dinner and a dance with my 11-year-old daughter Molly, she wrote me this note that I will always treasure:

Dear Dad,

I LOVED going to the Daddy Daughter Dance with you!! I love you so much! I did NOT think it would be so much fun! That was the best night EVER! Also thanks for taking us to Pizza Pie Cafe. That night could not have got any better. I just love spending time with you. I cannot express how much I felt my love for you, my gratitude, and my happiness! Words can’t say it. I love you! P.S. No one can dance like you.”

Fathers: the secret weapon against sexual exploitation

We could have a stranglehold on the porn industry. What if we didn’t feed it anymore because girls had the confidence to refuse to go into it? I know that’s oversimplifying it, but that’s my vision. Raising strong, healthy daughters needs to be seen as battling sexual exploitation.

Families are where real love and connection is fostered. Unfortunately, girls who don’t have that strong bond with their fathers are vulnerable to seeking attention from abusers, traffickers or pimps who are pretending to be somebody who cares about them.

Now, that that’s a common story I’ve seen. They get drawn into it because they think they’re going to make money or be a star. It comes back to wanting this attention. These girls who are struggling don’t have the skills to navigate the social media terrain. They’re just easy prey. No wonder they’re being exploited. I call it family exploitation.

When young girls have been victimized in the past by family members, they are more likely to believe that it is acceptable for strangers to exploit and abuse them. Why? Because they have developed a distorted form of love. They were never taught how to connect with themselves and with others. And girls with absent or disengaged fathers can have a distorted view of themselves in which they define their worth by using their bodies to get the attention they crave.

Fathers who follow the four ways to bond with their daughters will reap the rewards of connection and cherished memories over a lifetime. Time, attention and affection, social skills, and protection are gifts every dad can give. Their daughters will have a powerful start on a healthy, happy life in a challenging world.

That’s why anything that is pro-fatherhood is also anti-porn!

Get our free list of emotional needs to help identify what kids require to feel loved and secure. Click below for your inventory.

How Grandparents Combat Pornography

How Grandparents Combat Pornography

Why I Fight! Today you get to meet the amazing Vauna Davis, Executive Director of UCAP (Utah Coalition Against Pornography). Their annual conference is in March and guess what? It’s the largest conference in the world to educate the public on problems (and solutions) of pornography

Why leading UCAP makes me hopeful

I have an interesting and unique job as the executive director of Utah Coalition Against Pornography. You might think this job would be discouraging and heavy, but actually I nearly always feel very hopeful. That is because it is more energizing to do something about the things you are concerned about than to sit around feeling worried and powerless.

My concerns started when our four children were growing up during the time when the internet first became standard equipment in homes. My husband and I knew that it could be risky, so we used a filtered service from the start.

Yet over the years, as we discovered the disturbing pornography that our children were exposed to at friends’ homes and on the school playground, we realized that internet filters were not enough. When we looked for advice, we didn’t find very much to help us teach our kids. We felt the lack of practical info to help parents prepare their children for the sexualized culture they were growing up in was a major problem. I decided this was the challenge I wanted to take on.

Vauna Davis bio photo square

How does being a grandma change my perspective?

Now my children are adults, and I am a grandmother of two sweet young ones. They are growing up at a time when pornography is embedded in their culture in a startling variety of forms and channels.

To grow up with a deep understanding of what sexual integrity is and why it is a key to their happiness is going to take constant engagement from their parents, grandparents, and other teachers. I see how busy my daughter and her husband are with parenting, and feel strongly that grandparents have a crucial role to support young families.

Extended families can work together

grandparents find help at UCAP

Grandparents can share what they have learned about parenting, both from successful and less effective experiences.

Grandparents can also:

Children are getting bombarded with destructive sexualized messages. Extended families can work together to push back on this social attack and surround children with values of respectful, loving, healthy sexuality.

This is absolutely essential if we hope to see children growing up to have lives filled with love, purpose, and freedom.

UCAP

NOTE: Register for UCAP here. The conference features over 20 experts speaking on practical solutions to protect your families from pornography. Check out the UCAP website for video of previous speakers.