Yesterday, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales issued a kiddie porn "wake-up call":
"It is not an exaggeration to say that we are in the midst of an epidemic in the production and trafficking of movies and images depicting the sexual abuse of children," Gonzales said.
"The threat is frighteningly real, it is growing rapidly, and it must be stopped."
The attorney general said one of every five children online is now solicited. He cited a recent estimate that 50,000 predators are online at any given time prowling for children.
Gonzales attributed the one-in-five stat to "one study," which is most likely a 2000 report conducted by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. But way back in 2001, Spiked Online's Sandy Starr actually read that report:
The NCMEC's national survey of 1501 American 10- to 17-year-olds found that 'approximately one in five received a sexual solicitation or approach over the internet in the last year'. There is a huge leap from 'sexual solicitation or approach'…to 'approached by a paedophile'.
The report found that almost half of the solicitations reported did not come from an adult, but from other children: 'juveniles made 48 percent of the overall and 48 percent of the aggressive solicitations.' The report also points out that only 'one quarter of young people who reported these incidents were distressed by them'. 'Sexual solicitations' between children in an internet chat room are the online equivalent of adolescent fumbling, a world away from the threat of paedophilia.
Gonzales himself gave the source for the 50,000 prowling predators, citing "the television program Dateline."