Turns Out Social Networks Aren't Breeding Grounds For Sexual Predators

from the won't-stop-politician-grandstanding dept

Over the past few years there has been a huge number of grandstanding politicians claiming that social networks like Facebook and MySpace were breeding grounds for online predators, who were trying to entice children. They've been pushing for new laws, basically so they can get into the papers along with some quip about how they are out there protecting "the children." Of course, it turns out that the entire premise is faulty. A few years back we pointed to a study that showed the problem was entirely exaggerated. Very few kids were approached by predators and most who were could easily brush it off, so long as they had been educated about the risks. Now there's a new study out going even deeper in noting that sexual predators are unlikely to pretend to be teenagers using social networks, but rather are very upfront about who they are and what they want. In most cases, the victims knew that they were chatting with an older person, and believed that they were in a legitimate relationship, rather than being tricked. Once again, this suggests that all the hype and new laws being proposed to deal with the "problem" of predators on social networks are misplaced. The focus should be on basic education. Teach kids to have some "internet smarts" and they're probably going to be just fine.

Filed Under: predators, social networks

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  1. identicon
    DanC, 19 Feb 2008 @ 11:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    How do you stop murderers, other than vague appeals to "common sense", "stop legislating parenting", or "base them on reliable studies"?

    You don't, because you can't. You can pass laws that help impede a murderer from accomplishing his goals, but you can't stop everyone. And some of those laws are inherently flawed as well.

    Take, for instance, the Gun-Free School Zone act. While it provides a penalty for someone found with a handgun in a school zone, it also ensures that law-abiding citizens are defenseless when a school shooting occurs. Murderers don't care about laws that stop them from killing.

    And to answer your sarcastically posed question: yes, some murderers are the products of poor parenting, or lack of parenting. That's why the automatic first response to early school shootings was to blame video games for desensitizing the kids. Sure some people asked how the parents could not know their kids had purchased handguns months beforehand or had assembled pipe bombs in the basement, but the immediate outrage was against video games.

    Your responses to these posts seem to indicate that you favor the "throw it against the wall and see what sticks" method of legislating, regardless of their merit. Pass as much legislation as possible, and hope something works.

    If you're going to try and play devil's advocate, could you at least put a little effort into it? Referring to all my points as "vague appeals" is fairly pathetic, and makes you look silly.

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