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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  1. identicon
    R. Miles, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 7:11am

    Old news.

    It's teenagers taking nude photos of themselves and sending it which is the new moral panic.

    Come on, Carlo. Don't you read this site?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 8:17am

    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?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Sean, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 8:35am


    Yeah those Congrees people over the past 8 years just ramming these laws through. I mean especially the last 4 years. That was horrible. Oh wait which party had control of congress over the past 4 years? Oh that's right it was the Democrats. My bad.

    All of them are crooks!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 8:50am

    Who are you, and what did you do with the real Wierd Harold?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. icon
    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 9:02am


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Michael Long, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 9:27am


    "... 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."

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re:

    Yes, but in the case of Government, These are not unintended consequences. They Know exactly what is going to happen and are banking on human nature to follow due course. This allows them to keep passing retarded laws that only inhibit our liberties even more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    bobcat, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 9:56am

    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 ...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 10:34am


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Weird Harold, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 11:25am

    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.

    http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_public_laws&docid=f:publ2 48.109

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Raybone, Apr 2nd, 2009 @ 3:38pm


    well said Harold

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Apr 3rd, 2009 @ 10:44pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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