Crime

Also, They Can't Reach Through the Screen and Grab Your Child, à la Freddy Krueger

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Based on surveys of young Internet users and interviews with government investigators, University of New Hampshire researchers have concluded that the risk from online pedophiles is not trumpeted often or loudly enough. Just kidding. In the latest issue of American Psychologist, they debunk the following misconceptions, as summarized by McClatchy Newspapers:

Myth: Internet predators are driving up child sex crime rates.

Finding: Sex assaults on teens fell 52 percent from 1993 to 2005, according to the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey, the best measure of U.S. cri

me trends. "The Internet may not be as risky as a lot of other things that parents do without concern, such as driving kids to the mall and leaving them there for two hours," [sociologist Janis] Wolak said.

Myth: Internet predators are pedophiles.

Finding: Internet predators don't hit on the prepubescent children whom pedophiles target. They target adolescents, who have more access to computers, more privacy and more interest in sex and romance, Wolak's team determined from interviews with investigators.

Myth: Internet predators represent a new dimension of child sexual abuse.

Finding: The means of communication is new, according to Wolak, but most Internet-linked offenses are essentially statutory rape: nonforcible sex crimes against minors too young to consent to sexual relationships with adults.

Myth: Internet predators trick or abduct their victims.

Finding: Most victims meet online offenders face-to-face and go to those meetings expecting to engage in sex. Nearly three-quarters have sex with partners they met on the Internet more than once.

Myth: Internet predators meet their victims by posing online as other teens.

Finding: Only 5 percent of predators did that, according to the survey of investigators.

Myth: Online interactions with strangers are risky.

Finding: Many teens interact online all the time with people they don't know. What's risky, according to Wolak, is giving out names, phone numbers and pictures to strangers and talking online with them about sex.

Myth: Internet predators go after any child.

Finding: Usually their targets are adolescent girls or adolescent boys of uncertain sexual orientation, according to Wolak. Youths with histories of sexual abuse, sexual orientation concerns and patterns of off- and online risk-taking are especially at risk.

Here (PDF) is a press release about the study, produced by the University of New Hampshire's Crimes Against Children Research Center, and here (PDF) is the full text.

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  1. hilarious title

  2. I’ve always wondered if these “criminals” (some, rightly so) lie to Chris Hansen about the conversations and their intentions because they fear jail or, rather, if they “know” that what they did was “wrong”. I’d assume that the message to viewers is the latter. But I’m more inclined to side with the hypothetical person who gets caught and calmly tells the truth to Mr. Hansen about his intentions.

    Obviously it’s illegal in this country, but in some countries simply engaging in a consensual, sexual relationship with a 17 year old isn’t against the law or at all taboo. And if it were legal, the responsibility still falls on the parents to be aware of such behavior or tendencies and thwart it before it becomes a “problem.”

  3. Well, on Dateline, they say a lot of times that so and so drove X amount of hours to get to the house. Plus, not that I’d like to see the transcripts, but it seems like they basically cold call predators, most of the time you would think that the predator pursues the child, but it seems with NBC that those Perverted Justice people are prancing around the internet saying “fuck me, fuck me”.

    That said there are too many sick bastards out there. If they are such a threat that they have to scare everyone through the TV, put them away for a long time, if they are actually going after kids. These ankle bracelets and other tracking measures that they are shoving down our throats will eventually punish the innocent when they use it for everything else. I shouldn’t have to pay because some sicko cannot keep his mitts off of children, I quit being a Catholic for the very same reason.

  4. Obviously it’s illegal in this country, but in some countries simply engaging in a consensual, sexual relationship with a 17 year old isn’t against the law or at all taboo

    In Illinois, 17 is the age of consent

  5. Lev – You left the church because of the priest sex abuse scandal? Obviously there is more to it than that you didn’t want to be associated with flawed humans (because there’s no way to get around that).

    I left the church because they said X was wrong and that I should feel bad for it, and I didn’t. They still leave no room for individual cases (and reason in most cases). I particularly hate it when they make the accusation that pre-marital sex causes divorces, citing that a “chaste” catholic couple has something like 5 times the chances of staying together. Their firm stances on issues is definitely laudable, but the stance that they take is often quite arbitrary. So, I had to go.

  6. It really bothers me how people are calling out for more laws and regulations in order to stop this. Short of requiring a drivers license and a mandatory background check on every social networking site, there is no technological solution to this problem. And even if you do mandate that across the United States, so what? People will just go to http://www.myspace.ru instead of being inconvenienced by http://www.myspace.com‘s rules.

    Parents need to educate their kids about dangers and keep an eye on them. There are a lot of fucked up people in this world, but learning how to avoid them doesn’t take a whole lot of effort.

  7. Agreed, Bingo. Agreed.

  8. “Internet predators don’t hit on the prepubescent children whom pedophiles target. They target adolescents”

    Accepted definitions of pedophile may or may not include adults who are “decent” enough to only target adolescents rather than “young children”. In my own personal dictionary, which has a pretty conservative definition of “ironic”, I could debate 16 or 17 when looking at improper relations with a 21 year old. But to suggest a 30yr+ adult (think Scott Ritter) who chases after kids under 16 years old is not a pedophile, rubs me wrong, and I wouldn’t hire them to babysit. Well, if they charged like a $1.50 an hour, I might reconsider.

  9. Accepted definitions of pedophile may or may not include adults who are “decent” enough to only target adolescents rather than “young children”.

    Only among people who don’t know what they’re talking about.

    “Ephebophilia” is the clinical term for someone who is attracted specifically to adolescents. However, opinion in the medical community is split as to whether this constitutes a “condition” at all, since adolescents are sexually mature and it is only modern mores that define them as children.

    But then, I suppose the speakers we’re talking about are the same gung-ho politicians and cops who think that the War on Drugs is a good idea…

  10. Typical conversation with a “War On Internet Pedophiles” true believer (I speak from experience here):

    Rational person: Sex assaults on teens fell 52 percent from 1993 to 2005, according to the Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey…

    True Believer: Well, if we can save just one child…

    RP: There is solid evidence that the threat from so-called “internet predators” is blown way out of proportion…

    TB: What are you, some kind of bleeding heart-

    RP: Obviously, it’s a good thing to teach our children to be careful, but there’s no need to over-inflate the problem-

    TB: (clasping hands over ears): MEAGAN KANKA! MEAGAN KANKA!

  11. “Ephebophilia” is the clinical term for someone who is attracted specifically to adolescents. However, opinion in the medical community is split as to whether this constitutes a “condition” at all, since adolescents are sexually mature and it is only modern mores that define them as children.

    There is definitely a problem with age of consent laws, post pubescent “children” who are sexually active and the arbitrary age of 18 for adulthood. Almost any way you jigger the numbers, somebody is going to be done wrong. What advice do you give to a 17 tear old boy and his 15 year old girlfriend? See a lawyer before sex?

    Boys and Girls, if somebody you meet on the intertubes wants to talk about sex with you, terminate the discussion and change your E-mail address. If they had claimed to be an adult, notify the authorities.

    Parents, adult men are ogling your daughter everytime she leaves the house. It sucks if you’re a parent, but it’s reality. The internet is really not an added danger.

  12. Does anyone else remember when a really obvious undercover cop was trolling Reason’s comment threads?

    He had an email address that was something like “hotstexyteen@…..,” and he’d write comments like, “I may only be a 15 year old boy with a completely hairless body, but people say I’m mature for my age, and I’m interested in having someone older and more mature to teach me about libertarianism.”

    He lasted like three days before some of the regulars started calling him out.

  13. American Heritage Dictionary

    Pedophile
    n. An adult who is sexually attracted to a child or children.

    Child
    A person between birth and puberty.
    A person who has not attained maturity or the age of legal majority.

    I’m fine with the American Heritage definition, and did not write to them to inform them of how uneducated they are. I have seen other sources give the “young child” definition, but they are probably child molesters with at least some sense of shame.

    That you can find a more precise word, even a clinical one, does not make the term “pedophile” incorrect.

    I DO get the hysteria thing, honest.

  14. “Lev – You left the church because of the priest sex abuse scandal? Obviously there is more to it.”

    The reference to the scandal was more of a dig and a criticism. The scandal is something they did not handle correctly, the main reason I left is buried in old books and would appear very boring and tedious to many. It’s political hierarchy does not appear conducive to change and I do no think that it serves its constituency well. It also appeared irrelevant to the conversation, maybe I should have put a brief explanation of it in passing.

  15. Uncle Pervy is the preferred term.

  16. Uncle Pervy is the preferred term.

    I thought it was something else.

    ?I’m your wicked Uncle Ernie
    I’m glad you won’t see or hear me
    As I fiddle about
    Fiddle about
    Fiddle about ?!

  17. Short of requiring a drivers license and a mandatory background check on every social networking site, there is no technological solution to this problem.

    Sure there is, and it’s already in place.

    Left out of the article is the percentage of nubile young jailbait on the web that are actually 40-something undercover cops. The internet is God’s gift to anti-pedophile law enforcement. Let it work.

    Lev – You left the church because of the priest sex abuse scandal? Obviously there is more to it than that you didn’t want to be associated with flawed humans (because there’s no way to get around that).

    It’s not the “flawed humans” (pedophiles) I wouldn’t want to associate with. It’s the church heirarchy, right to the top, that covered up the incidents and kept sending the “flawed humans” into fresh feeding grounds. I couldn’t support such in any way.

    I was never Catholic, but I did report problems, and thereby get fired from, a job where abuse was a possibility. Turned out later I was right.

  18. Myth: “Internet predators” exist.

    Finding: There is no documented case of anyone anywhere eating a router, switch, hub, ethernet cable, ethernet card, or any other Internet hardware. What, you didn’t know what “predator” meant?

  19. I predate the internet.

  20. Internet predators don’t hit on the prepubescent children whom pedophiles target. They target adolescents

    Good news, honey. It turns out the 40 year old loser who’s shtupping our adolescent son isn’t a pedophile after all! I was worried for a second.

  21. Left out of the article is the percentage of nubile young jailbait on the web that are actually 40-something undercover cops.

    My theory is that there are no 14-year-old girls on the internet. Anyone you encounter claiming to be one is actually a police officer. And most of them seem to be in Xenia, Ohio, for some reason.

  22. J sub D,

    Ah, Tommy!

    Apparently you can get that as a ringtone. I double dog dare you!

    Tee hee hee

    [fiddles about]

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