Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
A task force was formed at the behest of the Connecticut Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal, to study the actual prevalence of minor solicitation on the internet. He’s angry because his task force found that it actually isn’t as prevalent as shows like “Dateline” and “To Catch a Predator” would have you believe.
“Children are solicited every day online,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “Some fall prey, and the results are tragic. That harsh reality defies the statistical academic research underlying the report.”
That may be true. It is true that children ARE solicited on the internet, but according to the task force it isn’t the nightmare scenario many people would have you believe. As with stranger abduction, it’s actually fairly rare, at least compared with how it is depicted in popular media. And yes, when it happens it can be devastating. Now he says the data was outdated, that may be. I’m downloading the report from this page: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/isttf/ so I can see if Mr. Blumenthal actually has room to bitch, or if he’s just sour grapes-ing because they didn’t prove the hypothesis he had in mind.
Regardless, this is NOT an excuse to let your kids be unsupervised on the internet. Because apart from predators, there’s a lot on the net that I wouldn’t want any hypothetical children of mine to see, and I’m not even talking about porn. There are hate sites galore on the interwebz. There are sites where you can see graphic images of people who have died horrifically, of animal torture and mistreatment.
So, while the task force’s findings are not reason enough to just let your kids go whither they will on the Net, they do demonstrate how overblown “stranger danger” is in all of its forms. Children are at far more risk from people they know than from strangers every day of their lives. Most sexual abuse is at the hands of a family member or trusted family friend or other person of authority that the child knows. Most kidnappings are committed by non-custodial parents, or another relative.
Penn & Teller have an excellent episode of “Bullshit” concerning the stranger danger topic, if not internet predators. You can find it in pieces on Youtube.
Download the report here: http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/isttf/
The deeper meaning…
I think everyone needs to take a step back and realize this: the same media that hyped Internet predators on social networks is now glorifying obvious results (to those of us embedded in the issue) that show the fears are overblown and that cyberbullying is a bigger issue.
Bottom line: The predators do exist, but the threat of cyberbullying is far greater. Predators we have to hunt down and lock up. Cyberbullies live in your home. The real message here is parental involvement and awareness. Know how your child acts online towards others and how they participate in the digital world. Know where they go and who they talk to and how. You don’t have to spy and analyze, but you should simply know.
I firmly believe that we could take a huge step towards a ‘nicer’ internet and less bullying if every parent today just said “no more” and went back to basics with their parenting messages: Play nice with others. I ranted a bit here is you are interested: http://blog.pcpandora.com/2009/01/15/internet-predator-fears-and-social-networking-woes%e2%80%a6-overblown/
Trust but verify. Know what your child is doing online. Visit http://www.pcpandora.com to learn about one tool that helps parents KNOW…