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 @ 8:29am


    "The comments just show a lot of grandstanding against the status quo, as opposed to proposing specific courses of action."

    I thought the "specific courses of action" was fairly self-evident:

    1. Stop blaming technology for social problems. It's the people abusing the technology who are breaking the law.

    2. Stop trying to legislate parenting. It is not the government's job to make sure that your values are instilled in your kids.

    3. If you want laws passed to help stop sexual predators, base them on reliable studies and facts instead of unsupported opinions and hunches.

    4. Educate your kids and enforce the household rules.

    5. Try parenting. Don't throw your kids in front of the tv or computer and forget about them.

    I'm not sure how you qualify the statements as grandstanding when in reality they're a call for common sense. Why is it grandstanding to suggest we not pass laws based on false assumptions?

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