Military Brats Gone Wild


No military parent wants to see their kid on CNN with the caption, “Porn to pay tuition.”

If your military kid is going to be famous, you might hope it is because they are someone like basketball great David Robinson. Or Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon. Or Hunger Games author Suzanne Collins.

You might hope the child you raised gets ten minutes in the spotlight for pulling a child from a burning building.  Or revamping a troubled inner city school.

You don’t hope that your Duke student starts calling herself “Belle Knox” and announces she will pay her $60,000 a year tuition by performing in the porn industry, right?

You don’t hope your daughter will be compelled to reveal that her father is a military doctor who just returned from Afghanistan, do you?

Maybe I’m soft. Maybe I should use this story as an excuse to be haranguing military parents right about now.

But to tell you the truth, when this story hit the news my first thought was: those poor people. My second thought was: that poor kid.

In my job I meet so many military parents who are devoted to their children. I meet some crappy parents, too. But for the most part, I see how we are a community of people who care about our kids. We want the best for them.

And it ain’t easy to raise kids in the military. I used to think that it was. I used to be one of those moms who thought there was an exactly right way of raising kids.

I used to think that if I made these kids eat squishy green vegetables and dragged them off to school and trundled them to basketball and took them to visit their grandparents and read to them and played with them and told them how much I loved them before I kissed them goodnight, then they would turn out exactly right.

That doesn’t always happen. The older I get and the older my friends get and the older all of our kids get, the more I see that no one can control all the things teens and young adults do.

You can try. We do try. But lately I see that for every military kid that gets into Duke or Stanford or the Naval Academy, there is a kid who gets kicked out of college for a heinous alcohol incident. Or gets arrested for grand theft auto. Or is committed to an institution to try to get a handle on their depression or drug addiction or bipolar disorder.

Those troubled kids might be kids you knew who were troubled all along. Those troubled kids might be the children of troubled parents. Those troubled kids might be the ones who got into Duke or Stanford or the Naval Academy.

Where I used to be so sure of myself when my kids were little, I am less sure now.  Too many things besides parenting happen to young adults for any one parent to control.

Sometimes I think of rock legend Jim Morrison of The Doors. His father was Navy Admiral George S. Morrison who commanded the fleet during the Vietnam war—a time where men were judged as leaders by the way they controlled their families.

Their relationship was rocky to say the least. According to Admiral Morrison’s obituary in the New York Times, Jim’s rebellion was met with blank incomprehension from his father.

Admiral Morrison is quoted as saying: “I had the feeling that he felt we’d just as soon not be associated with his career. He knew I didn’t think rock music was the best goal for him. Maybe he was trying to protect us.”

That puzzlement, that bewilderment, that sifting through the past is something I think the parents of troubled military children must do all the time. It is what you do when you care about your kids and do your best for them and release them into the world.

You hope for the best for your kids.  And sometimes hope is not enough.


About the Author

Jacey Eckhart
Jacey Eckhart is the former Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom. Find her at

29 Comments on "Military Brats Gone Wild"

  1. No moral compass,no dignity,no self-respect,no shame,no self-worth.Nowhere to go after this.

  2. I love the slut shaming here. You know what, lots of lawyers, doctors, scientists, etc strip, do pr0n, work as escorts in order to pay tuition to go to the top schools, to get the best education possible. I'd be more ashamed of the young man who thinks it's okay to shame Ms. Knox for getting an education by whatever means necessary while not seeing that his behavior is exploitative. He recognized her because he was watching porn- to the tune of $300 a month. I don't care that he watches pr0n, but I do care that we hold women to a different standard than men. It's okay to be lascivious if you're a dude in America. No one rocks back and forth in a corner over his actions, they go directly to god forbid my daughter…
    You know what, if my son decided to out Ms. Knox, he'd immediately get cut off. And I'd let him figure out how to pay his Duke U. tuition. I am so tired of rewarding male privilege. I am so tired of spousebuzz slut shaming women.

  3. the first mel | March 12, 2014 at 4:36 pm |

    I don't know why anyone is judging this young woman for doing porn. Just because she is doing porn doesn't mean she isn't a good person or that she won't do anything of worth in her lifetime. This is a stepping stone that she is ok with taking. Also, not everyone is super uptight about sex and if she feels good about herself, what's the problem? I understand that porn isn't what you envision for your child, but she is an adult and you have to accept the choice even though you may not agree with it. Personally, I wouldn't be ashamed of my kid, I would be concerned about her safety.

  4. Maybe she can get a commission and be a general's aide!

  5. Why do people have to assume that the parents did something "wrong"? I can think of any number of "normal" families where one or more of the children have gone in directions their parents wouldn't have chosen for them.

    This young woman is an adult, and able to make her own decisions. This seems to be a matter strictly between her & her family, and the only one I can find fault with is the low-life smeghead who decided to draw attention to it.

  6. Snarky Navy Wife | March 12, 2014 at 10:42 pm |

    Did you seriously compare engaging in LEGAL and consensual sex acts with grand theft auto and heinous alcohol incidents serious enough to warrant expulsion?

    That level of sl*t shaming deserves a slow clap. A long, earnest, begloved slow clap. Because that is pretty incredible.

    Do better.

  7. Jango Soprano | March 13, 2014 at 8:36 am |

    I would say blame the dad, but I have seen over and over and over again where a father tells his young daughter not to wear provocative clothing and the mother fights him on it. Mostly because she wears the same thing. As parents you have to set examples. Kids follow by example.

  8. All sad. But what does anyone do for the military brat. The one who moves around and has no roots. They learn no loyalty to one area. Friends can be replaced. You don’t want them to turn out like her, but you offer no hand up for the unvolunteery childhood they give up. When the parent retires they get sometimes for the rest of there life… What do we give the children?

  9. Googled "bella"…some hard core porn going on there!

  10. Searched on Yahoo, she does selfie porn, she is a star in her own mind! Her sense of dignity and morals can only. Be learned at home! She is another product of us disciplined child rearing who definitely needed a spanking,and she'd put that on the internet! Whoever is paying her is pretty desperate, I can't see how she will raise that tuition money with her looks!

  11. sabrinacking | March 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm |

    This is that point where I just can’t not say something. Even though I am old, and some of the comments here make me feel even older. This absolutely is NOT feminism. Anyone trying to skew what this young woman is doing to herself as some sort of feminist act against patriarchy, and the rest of us as “**** shaming” her…is a moron. Google the woman. She is known for female degradation films. Violent, subservient, derogatory films. The opportunity cost here to not only her life, but to the further increasing of the hegemony which already terrorizes our culture…is horrific.
    Can women empower themselves through objectifying themselves…assuredly, yes, in very specific ways they can turn that on its head to their advantage thereby empowering themselves. However, as women do we really want to promote a woman degrading herself in the types of films this one is known for? Do we want to perpetuate the idea that women are to be violently used, forcibly degraded against their will Etc.? There is no fine line between harnessing your own power through claiming your own body as your own…and GIVING AWAY your power by allowing yourself to become a caricature of woman as men’s disposable object. Google her, you are defending something very different than you think you are if you are coming to her defense as some great advocate for women. What is next? Do we deify the woman who gives her life in "the great feminist cause" of the snuff film? There is adult entertainment…and then there is promotion of violence against women…this young woman, is paying her way through Duke with the latter.

  12. puresaltA1A | March 13, 2014 at 1:18 pm |

    Right or wrong… this lady is getting tons of free marketing by every media outlet… she will have more money than she needs for tuition… most likely she will never get out of that industry now… how many companies would want to hire someone like her???? HR background check would flipout… She will not get into a fortune 1000 for sure, much less a private one… unless she goes into business for herself (outside of porn)… So what good is an education??? You dont need an education to go into business for yourself, unless you are per say a doctor… so what is the point of buying an over price education if you are not going to use it…. its just a piece of paper to get your foot in the door for an interview… but Jacey you are right with your thoughts of what control you have with children… now that you know this you should read the prophet by kahlil gibran… it really gives some great wisdom about who you are and what you can control… my two cents… changed my life……

  13. What's being left unsaid here is the horribly high price of a college education today. I'm a dad and I certainly wouldn't want my daughter doing this, but I am finding it difficult to blame Knox for it. A colllege education makes a huge difference in quality of life later on. If she hadn't been outed, it is possible that she could have left this behind her and started a real career after school.

    The problem is employers frequently do internet searches on prospective job hires, so this will probably have some serious negative career repercussions later.

  14. I wonder how many of the posters slamming this young lady have viewed pornos themselves. Rings of hypocrisy to me.

  15. Just let it go
    She has had her 15 minutes of fame at OUR expense
    The fact she was a military brat is no interest to me.
    nor does it make her unique………many of us are and were……..
    so what?
    She needs to move on in her life and stop
    wearing her chosen profession, to pay for her tuition, like some sort of badge of courage……….

  16. I am not going to judge her. She chose her path which does not intersect mine.

  17. I feel like this was a very thinly veiled attempt to correlate belle knox and the military. Shes an adult now and paying for her own schooling. I don't see what the big deal is. Porn is not illegal and its laughable that on a military site people are trying to shame her for doing it when I'm 100% certain their soldier has par taken in its viewing. She got into and is paying for Duke so in my mind her parents did a fine job. I'd like to know where the parents of the young man who outed her went so very, very wrong.

  18. I would love to know why my post that essentially said “p0rn is healthy” and “I would be proud if my daughter got into Duke” was removed.
    It was far less offensive than some of the other comments I see.

  19. I have a question for all those opposed pornography, I posted it in another thread, but thought it needed a thread of its own.

    If pornography viewing, in your opinion, is tantamount to cheating, what are your thoughts on books, magazines, etc for women? Women tend to be stimulated differently then men. They tend to like to "read" about it, whereas men like to visually experience it. So are women who read books like, "50 Shades of Gray," or "Sleeping Beauty Series" (by Anne Rice), or any other erotic novels also cheating on their husbands? I can totally see a double standard, where a woman can claim that she is reading a novel for the joy of reading the novel, but a man can't watch a movie, because it's considered cheating?

    Personally, my opinion on the Belle is you go girl, if it pays for Duke, more power to you. I certainly couldn't afford Duke, and I wouldn't have done porn to, but I think that as long as she's happy, paying her way, etc stop shaming her. It's the same as fat shaming, skinning shaming, etc.

  20. If we all would just judge ourselves as much and as quickly as we tend to judge others, this world would be a much better place to live. I do not agree with this young girl's choice of profession to pay for college nor do I agree with how our society is paying to see her in porn thus paying her so well that she can afford a 60k tuition. I care for this young woman and wish the best for her and for all and that we all can be driven to reach our dreams without hurting others to do so.

  21. Someonehastoomuchtimeontheirhands | March 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm |

    Thank you, had you not wrote this I would have never found out about Belle Knox. If she’s old enough to go to college and responsible enough to pay for it herself she can pretty much do anything she wants. The fact that she wants to do porn is totally her choice and I’m sure that regardless of what she does her parents still love her. So what’s it to anyone here? Behind the doors in base housing dependentopotamuses spend too much time worrying about everyone else’s business. I see nothing has changed. But maybe I’m the one who’s being judgemental?

  22. R. A. Bates | March 20, 2014 at 1:37 am |

    I agree with many of the comments, that as an adult, one can be responsible and choose their own path to get through life. What I have a problem with is the lack of help military parents get throughout their career. I was transferred to Kodiak, Ak and was informed by my 14 year daughter, after being there just two weeks, that her new friends said "the only thing to do in Kodiak is smoking and having sex". I didn't know how to react to something like that or what I could do to protect her, but 3 months later, after being underway for a month and a half, I was informed my little girl was pregnant. She was treated poorly by the locals and especially bad by the base " moral" personnel. I will never forgive the 16 year old boy, of a military family, who seduced her or the base personnel, who treated her so badly. Makes me ashamed of the lack of support from the people who boast about helping our service members and their families. What a joke!

  23. …"But to tell you the truth, when this story hit the news my first thought was: those poor people. My second thought was: that poor kid."

    A quote from your op-ed, yet the title of your post and the head shot of "that poor kid" only perpetuates and brings attention to an incident that may be better resolved in private with her family. You're only helping to make this woman a poster child for questionable behavior. What if this were your kid? I say leave this woman and family alone and address the bigger issue.

  24. This story really had no point!

  25. Alot of folks on these blogs seem to "cast the first stone". I find it humerous. Perfect people scrutinizing and judging others. Most of you have nothing better to do, get a hobby.

  26. A not so small point–my sister and I were Army brats. My two daughters are Navy Juniors and quite proud of it. Why do you call every dependent child an Army Brat? It's not accurate and basically says screw the tradition.

  27. Antietam1958 | March 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm |

    Move on people. it not your place to judge her. that is left up to only one person and that is "God" and we don't know how he will judge her.

  28. She's not a kid, she's an adult. Her decision to work in porn had little to do with being from a military family. It was a self centered decision, and very unrealistic to not anticipate the repercussions –the least of which would be to have her face on Spouse Buzz! It's all part of the losing side of a battle the family faces in regard to their own privacy: "Although Knox never publicly revealed her real name, people have posted her identity on the Web, along with the names of parents, sisters and other family members in her hometown of Spokane, Wash., and the high schools and middle schools they attended." -HuffPo It would seem she likes the attention, has no intention to quit, and has chosen this path for herself. Her relationship with her family is her business.

  29. sharpshooterjim | March 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm |

    Don't you think, that maybe you should also be criticizing, why it cost $60,000 to go to Duke? Or also go after the ridiculous prices of food? I thought that Mad Cow Disease was over, over 5 years ago. Why haven't the prices of meat gone back down?

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