Wait A Second, You Forgot The Moral Panic

from the no-fear-mongering-here dept

A new study is out saying that the number of people arrested for soliciting sex with juveniles (or at least law enforcement posing as juveniles) online leapt fivefold from 2000 to 2006 — but instead of using the stat to start a moral panic, people behind the study say the sharp increase doesn’t signal a growing danger to kids, but rather better enforcement by police. During the same time span, arrests for solicitations of actual children increased 21 percent, from about 500 to about 600. The report’s authors say that had the increase in arrests for online solicitation been due to an increase in the number of offenders, the two growth rates would have been more similar. This report goes along with an earlier one from the Berkman Center at Harvard, which found that as internet use has grown, the number of sex offenses against kids has dropped, once again highlighting that much of the moral panic over kids’ safety online is overhyped and misplaced.

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Comments on “Wait A Second, You Forgot The Moral Panic”

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Weird Harold (user link) says:

The whole “soliciting kids for sex” panic was really just a play by the old style moral majority types to block things on the net that they didn’t like.

Example is the famous “Adam’s Law”, which on the surface looks like it should be about protecting children. But in reality, it was used by the conservative types to ram through draconian rules against legal adult content producers, imposing record keeping rules that are expensive, repressive, and not likely to stop a single case of child abuse. The serious bible thumpers that ran the government in the US for the last 8 years tied every reduction in free speech and imposition on the people to terrorism or “protecting the poor children from predators”. It was a crock of pooh then, and only now are people waking up and realizing what was done.

Fear mongering is the strongest weapon of the morally superior. Yet it seems many of them end up caught having sex with gay hookers and taking drugs. Ain’t it special?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Your an idiot…. This has been an issue sence the dawn of day… People preying on children… It’s not new, its just being monitored and stopped.

Scumb bags like you that feel it shouldn’t be monitored and persecuted in any way possible are just that. scum bags.

f.o.a.d you sleeze bag…. And the quicker the better.

Weird Harold (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Nothing like someone who isn’t paying attention.

“People preying on children… It’s not new, its just being monitored and stopped.”

Yes, and everyone agrees that laws to stop predatory behavior towards children is important. But the fools that wrote Adam’s law used your moral outrage as magician’s flash paper, to distract you from all the other things that was piled into that bill.


Read it, and learn. Making producers of legal adult material keep additional, repetitious, and often massively overlapping records of performers in the productions won’t save a single child from harm. It won’t bring Adam Walsh back, and the adult entertainment business had nothing to do with any child exploitation or harm. In fact, existing laws on the books already required record keeping, and no sane business person would want to knowingly hire underage performers. Quite simple, child abuse pornography isn’t made by mainstream companies, and the people producing it aren’t going to stop because of a record keeping rule – that ain’t keeping records.

It’s nothing more than an abusive attempt to hurt the adult entertainment business and impede free speech rights.

The consequences of this law were not “accidental”, they were fully intentioned by people who want to judge your morals from on high.

Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: Re:

LOL AC!!! But give Weird Harold a pat for being pretty right on this one. No “moral” law is ever used only to do what it says it intends.

The “law of unintended consequences” (also called the “law of unforeseen consequences”) states that any purposeful action will produce some unintended consequences.

Michael Long (user link) says:


“… or at least law enforcement posing as juveniles…”

Bingo. Read the numbers, and you’ll see 600 arrests based on real offenders, and over 3,000 “sting” arrests.

Also of note from the article: “The proportion of younger adult offenders, aged 18-25, rose from 23 percent to 40 percent of arrests in cases with actual underage victims, and from 7 percent to 34 percent in undercover police stings. In the former type of case, the authors note, the increase in the absolute number of arrests of young-adult offenders appears to account for the entire increase in that category—no other age group saw similar growth. At the same time, while 40 percent of offenders in 2000 possessed child pornography, only 21 percent did in 2006.”

“The authors suggest that this may be a consequence of younger adults, who came of age online, being more likely to seek out victims on the Internet than in other venues. Alternatively, it seems possible that the Internet, and in particular the advent of social networking, has simply increased the prevalence of social contacts between teens and college-age adults, who may in turn be more likely to think of each other as peers, even when the law does not.”

That last bears repeating, ” …who may in turn be more likely to think of each other as peers, even when the law does not.”

bobcat says:

figures misleading

I’m sure when most people read these statistics they picture a 40 year old fat child rapist and a 10 year old girl.

I don’t have a problem with police targeting that crowd.

But a high school senior and his high school sophomore girlfriend would fall in the same illegal category. I don’t think in this day and age anyone thinks those couples aren’t having sex …

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Soliciting sex from children

I certainly have no interest in doing such a thing, but it did make me think of something that I think supports your position, Michael.
At one time, because I knew nothing about it except that it was the same “loco weed” that distressed cattlemen in Texas, I was strongly against marijuana. However, the overreaction by law enforcement first caused me to be more sympathetic, then to learn more about it, then to become very sympathetic with legalization (and skeptical of the claims for drug abuse generally).
Perhaps the overreaction (in the form of “saving the children” is a factor in CAUSING “the problem” – if any.

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