South Carolina Candidate For Governor Claims There Are Millions Of Internet Child Predators

from the hyperbole-much? dept

Over the past few years, we’ve see quite the moral panic about the supposed threat of internet predators preying on children online. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen or that parents and children shouldn’t be quite careful, but the press and politicians have clearly blown the threat way out of proportion. Study after study after study has shown that the threat is relatively small, and most kids are smart enough to be safe online and avoid anyone who seems sketchy. And, the reality is that preying on kids has actually decreased as the internet has grown more popular.

But, of course, that doesn’t make for the type of headlines that politicians want. South Carolina’s Attorney General has now announced his plans to run for governor of the state, in part on the claim that he’s going to crack down on child predators online. Now, we’re all for cracking down on online predators, but it’s tough to take him seriously, when he claims that “there are millions out there.” Millions? That seems a bit on the high side. On top of that, he claims that “Any child can become a victim” because “the predators are so skilled at what they do.” Except, of course, that’s not what the studies have shown at all. They’ve shown that most kids aren’t interested in strangers online at all, and if you reasonably educate them (which you should) they’re likely to be safe. But why bother with the actual evidence when you can grandstand as part of your bid to be governor?

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Comments on “South Carolina Candidate For Governor Claims There Are Millions Of Internet Child Predators”

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Tgeigs says:

Do some math

I’m assuming he was talking about American predators here, because how are you going to prey upon a S.C. child from , say, China? So, with that assumption we begin our math:

A. There are roughly 310 million residents in America
B. Roughly 25%, or 78 million of them are under the age of 18, leaving 232 million
C. Another 13%, or 40 million are over the age of 65. Certainly SOME of them could be predators, so to be safe, lets say half of them, or 20 million, are. That leaves us with about 210 million potential predators.
D. If there are millions (plural), that indicates AT LEAST 2 million, though likely more, predators. Let’s say 3 million, just to be safe. That means that nearly 2% of the American population capable of being child predators, according to this jackass, are in fact predators.

No freaking way.

For reference, the unemployment rate is somewhere around 4.5%, meaning you are close to half as likely to be a child pervert as to be unemployed.

Or better yet, the Presbyterian population is 2.1%, meaning you are more likely to meet a child predator than someone who practices Presbyterian faith. Even better, 1.2% of the American population is JEWISH, for cripes sake. Twice as many child predators as Jews? C’mon.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do some math

Further discounts because it is rare among women and about half the population is female, and not everyone left in your pool has net access.
Pretty much everyone knows at least 35 people. I’m sure you have met a Jew, Presbyterian, or unemployed person. How many of you have met a predator?

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re: Do some math

I didn’t apply the further discounts because I was trying to be REALLY safe w/the numbers to point out how ridiculous his statement was.

And no I have not, to my knowledge, met a predator (except my dog, who humps EVERYTHING). As for if I’ve met a Jewish person, I live on the northside of Chicago. If you knew about our demographics, you would realize what a silly question that is 🙂

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re: Do some math

Ok, 310 million is the residents of the US number on the CIA Factbook, so that’s what I went with. And if you followed the entire comment, 3 million was rounded up to 2% of the REMAINING 210 million, just to give the politician the benefit of the doubt. (3 million divided by 210 million).

I admit, I’m shitty at math, so if I’ve effed up somewhere, let me know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Do some math

You’ve incorrectly excluded americans under 18 from your calculations. Who said people under 18 can’t be predators? A few years ago you would have asumed they could be child self pornographers either …

And really, when I was 15 I was much more interested in 14 -17 year olds than I am now. Other kids online are much more likely to want to sexually use and abuse your daughter than 55 year olds. Are you saying they aren’t predators?

On a side note, males are genetically engineered by nature to want to spread their seed, and, in general, the most sexually attractive females are the most fertile. Is anyone surprised that older guys find 16 and 17 year old jail bait so attractive?

CmdrOberon says:

As a group, humans across the globe tend to be statistically the same.
I don’t know the exact percentages, but they are fairly constant across the globe: the percentage of compulsive gamblers, alcoholics, homosexuals — it’s pretty much the same in every country.

If we assume that there is a genetic component to this issue (and why wouldn’t there be?), it’s probably safe to assume that the number is also constant across the globe.

The problem is determining the percentage.

To get to 2 million for just the US, you only need to have 0.5% of 380 million people. 1 in every 200 people might potentially be open to exploiting youngsters online? That number doesn’t seem implausible. 1 million is just 0.26% — 1 in 400 people. That doesn’t seem unreasonable at all.

There are probably lots of people who feel empowered and immune when behind a keyboard in the safety of their own house — perhaps that’s why the online numbers won’t match the real-world numbers. In other words, people are more afraid of getting arrested if they physically snatch children out of the playground?

I don’t believe there is a big danger, but this bozo might have gotten lucky with his grandstanding and actually hit the nail on the head.

Tgeigs says:

Re: Re:

Fine, except that I would dispute most of your numbers. For one, most of what I’m reading via the CIA World Factbook puts us at roughly 310 million, and something close to 90 million are under 18, or over 65. You can’t just take the blanket population to apply the numbers, since it can be generally assumed that people under the age of 16 are far less likely to be predetors, and to a lesser extent, the same would apply for 65+

The Mad Patent Prosecutor says:

I agree that the internet is relatively safe. But, it is undoubtedly true there are in fact millions of predators online.

First, at least the summary does not state this number is with respect to the US. So, certainly out of the world population (predators in China can still hurt kids in the US), there are undoubtedly millions of predators. Further, I would not be shocked if there are millions of predators in the US alone. Anyone who thinks such a thing cannot possibly be true is really out of touch with the depravity of mankind.

Dave Barnes (user link) says:

I would say that Henry McMaster is correct

“increase prosecution of Internet predators — especially those who prey on children…bad news is that there are millions out there”.

There are 1,596,270,108 internet users in the world.
“Prey on” can mean “take advantage of”. Not specifically sexual.

So, are there 2 million internet users would prey (e.g. Disney) on children? Almost certainly.

slimcat (profile) says:

A small ray of future hope...

As more of us retired northerners move to SC, perhaps some day we can drop-kick these bible-thumping, redneck morons out of office.

But for now, the good-ol’-boy system is well entrenched here. And, based on recent past headlines, would anybody be especially surprised if this guy turned out to be one of the pedophiles he’s so worried about?

As for me, I’m attracted to women in their late 50’s, early 60’s. Mmm, gray babes!

Ryan says:

I don’t know anything about the typical “sexual predator”, but the typical public paradigm and the comments to this post remind me a bit of the “war on terror”, in which we are apparently in constant conflict against a discrete set of immutable individuals that can be clearly and inherently defined by all as “terrorists” for as long as they exist.

Now, I would presume that “sexual predators” can be more easily discerned from the rest than “terrorists”, but I still have questions…is a sexual predator a SP for life, or just for a brief period of time, ala a phase? What portion of SPs are actively seeking to commit this crime, and how many don’t even think of it until the opportunity arises? What qualifies as an “online” SP?–is that merely a SP that at some intervals gets online, or must it be one that uses the internet as their primary mechanism for predation? And as we all know, a lot of dipshits among us would define SPs as including 17 year-olds having sex, streakers, statutory “rapists” that were deceived as to age, etc.

Personally, I would guess that anybody that makes a broad statement such as accusing millions of sexual predators being online is an individual that doesn’t care particularly much about justice, social progress, or the like so much as crusading. That, or perhaps he is just an arrogant fool, which is practically the same thing.

Braden Cox (user link) says:

Fear-mongering not productive for online safety

Good post Mike. Over at NetChoice I’ve been trying to combat fear-mongering with statistics for a while now. And according to the South Carolina AG’s own words in the article you linked, the issue is less about predation and more about child porn: “About 45 police agencies accepted the challenge, and so far, they have arrested 152 alleged predators and convicted 74. Most of these, he said, are engaging in child pornography — not just photos, but videos of adults engaging in sex acts with very young children.” A 50% conviction rate, and most of the 74 are child porn, which is usually passive viewing and much different than active predation.

And what of these sting operations, where law enforcement pose as kids to entrap predators? Nancy Williard, a noted child safety expert, analyzed Pennsylvania data and found:

* Over four years (2005 through ’08), the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office made 183 arrests concerning Internet-related child sexual abuse through its Child Predator Unit.
* Only 8 of the 183 cases involved actual minors (the rest were sting operations involving police posing as minors) – though certainly these arrests may have prevented cases involving minors.
* Only 5 of the 183 involved sexual contact.

In Pennsylvania at least, the data is not millions, it’s 5.

Anonymous Coward says:

South Carolina - That says it all

Just look at all of the uninformed political comments and judicial decisions that come out of SC.
South Carolina – where facts don’t matter, local and federal judges are bought and paid for years (generations?) in advance and politicians are the same.

(Yea, tried to do a honest business there, never again.)

PRMan (profile) says:

Check the Megan's law database

Check the population of your city, then check the number of registered offenders living there. You can double it, if you like, on the assumption that only half of predators are caught.

I have known a few child predators over the years because I was on the board of a church and had to deal with issues related to their status. Most of the congregation did not know (and frankly, need not know as long as they continued to walk the straight and narrow), but we kept an eye out for abuse and kept them away from ministries and activities involving children or just befriending children in general.

I have also known several women who were abused.

I know that of the 10 predators that I am aware of in my lifetime in California, 6 were charged, 5 went to jail (1 died suddenly when a freeway overpass construction fell on his van–no joke) and 4 were never charged to my knowledge.

To my knowledge, NONE of these had anything to do with the internet.

Anyway, count the Megan’s Law database and double it and that will tell you an approximate amount of child predators out there.

It’s a very small number (not millions, even in California), and of those, probably less than 1% use the internet in any manner to commit their crime.

The ones I knew committed their acts by being babysitters (or their children), next-door neighbors, relatives or club/camp leaders, not by using the internet.

Terry says:

scattorney general manufactured seual predators. All tfor the greater ghood of himself. I wonder how he can sleep at night.. I know of a young man who was in a chatroom when this girl continued to contact hgim she said she was 14 but the pic she sent was of a 23 year old. She continued to email him constantly talking sexual after a while 16 times being emailed he buit now his whole like was ruined and he never did anything

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