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Studies Show That Children Are Solicited Online
June 20, 2001 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Studies Show That Children Are Solicited Online (from the NY Times, free registration required) -- "One in five children who regularly go online is approached by strangers for sex, according to a new study."
posted by shauna (22 comments total)

 
Nowhere in this "study" does it state whether or not the suspected "pedophiles" knew the recipients of their IMs and such were children. The last time I was in an IRC chatroom (it's been a long time), I got a half-dozen private messages within thirty seconds of signing on.

There are certainly pedophiles out there, but I think couching this story in "children being solicited" ignores the fact that nearly ALL of us get unwanted sexually explicit emails and IMs.
posted by shauna at 8:07 AM on June 20, 2001


Yet another prelude the the coming crackdown?
posted by tranquileye at 8:18 AM on June 20, 2001


I agree.. This is the same kind of study that leads to headlines like, "DOD computers attacked thousands of times a day!"

If a script says something dirty, are you being solicited? It could be some kind of pedo-turing-test.. Forget good enough to hold down a conversation, try good enough get arrested..

At some other level, the whole thing makes me really wonder about the sexual issues at play in society these days.. People are getting fucked twisted out there, and I don't mean the just the pedophiles.. Little timmy gets a dirty ICQ, I'm not sure where the danger is exactly.. If little timmy's parents even did half a job of raising him, he should be able to laugh it off and move on unaffected.. I suspect in time we'll see that all this repression and wierdness and "why it should be" stuff about sex is really making everyone screwed up.. Remember all that cover-your-ankles business from a few hundred years ago..
posted by Leonard at 8:18 AM on June 20, 2001


Not to mention that:

a. There a big difference between a 16 year old "child" getting a suggestive IM and an 8 year old. And how many 8 year olds are actually online?

b. There's no way to tell who's actually doing the "soliciting". God knows those chat rooms are overrun with 15 year old boys. If one of them asks a peer "wanna cyber?", that shows up in this "study".

c. Again, what's the harm? Better that kids learn there are sleazebags in this world via the relatively safe medium of the 'net than by talking to that strange old guy who hangs out near the school.
posted by jpoulos at 8:31 AM on June 20, 2001


This proves it! We need legislation!

I'm sorry. That didn't contribute anything to the discussion.
posted by norm at 9:02 AM on June 20, 2001


I saw this earlier in the week but didn't bother to log it here, because it just seemed so... content-free. Of note should be that the article nowhere states who sent these allegedly "harrassing" IMs, saying only that they "presumably" came "from adults."

Yeah. Right.

Sit down with my fourteen year old AIM addict nephew and believe me, you'll see every kind of solicitation, sexual innuendo, crude remark, discriminatory, slanderous, disgusting speech you can imagine - and that's only from the people he knows...

I'm sure there are pedophiles online. I'm sure the Internet makes it easier for them to target, approach and even solicit children. I'm also very, very sure that it's the business of those children's parents to take whatever steps are necessary to protect their children from any behaviours the parents feel is "unacceptable."
posted by m.polo at 9:10 AM on June 20, 2001


As of this morning this is getting constant rotation play on CNN, and has even made an appearance on CNBC. On both stations it was "children surfing the web" as the culprit. No mention of AIM, etc.

I am sure that our Congressmen are salavating already.
posted by sigsegv at 9:25 AM on June 20, 2001


jpoulos:

> how many 8 year olds are actually online?

Whole elementary schools full of them, both at school and at home.


leonard:

> If little timmy's parents even did half a job of raising him,
> he should be able to laugh it off and move on unaffected..

At what age do you think little timmy should be such a paragon of maturity? 10? 8? 6?

It takes quite a bit of life experience to a) understand what it is that a chat-room sex cruiser wants to do; b) understand why he wants to do it; and c) arrive at enough of an integrated understanding of normal human motivation, twisted human motivation, and one's own responses to these to be able to "laugh it off and move on unaffected..."

Your idea here is that little timmy should somehow just be mature, due to magically wonderful parenting, rather than be allowed some years to become mature with a security buffer between him and the mud-wrestling pit? What exactly do you think raising kids is? You've never been introduced to the notion that maturation is a process that takes quite a number of years, no matter what the quality of the parenting? You didn't tumble to this notion all by yourself, without prompting? Heh. Fuller probes the opposition mind and finds rice pudding.


m.polo:

> I'm also very, very sure that it's the business of those
> children's parents to take whatever steps are necessary
> to protect their children from any behaviours the parents
> feel is "unacceptable."

...which can be done, for elementary-school-age children, by sitting there with them as they play online (or channel-surf.) Certainly the parent can do this -- if he doen't have to have a job, or wash clothes, or cook dinner. If he does happen to have to work, and clean, and cook, and pay bills, and fix the car, and so on, kids are inevitably going to have unsupervised time.

One can only look for safe places them to play when they are not directly under one's eye, and what one finds in current electronic media is a bloody long way from what I mean by safe. The real choices a parent has are 1) allow unsupervised web and TV access when he can't be there; 2) use an electronic filter of some kind (v-chip, CyberCop) which may soothe the parent's conscience but does not in fact work; or 3) cut the net and the cable off entirely when he can't sit with the kid.

Frankly, it gives me a good case of information highway road rage that these are the only choices. For net.citizens merely to reply that censorship is bad and information wants to be free is not an adequate response -- by which I mean that that reply does nothing to address my feeling that the people who put the catshit in the sandwich need to be slapped down hard, and damn the consequences to others' freedom of pleasure.

Those who are concerned to oppose restrictive laws need to come up with an alternative that actually does the job for real parents. If you fail this test I predict you lose the battle.
posted by jfuller at 10:25 AM on June 20, 2001


The study in the Journal of the American Medical Assocation can be found here in full text, abstract and PDF forms.

The Crimes Against Children Research Center study is here, with press release, press conference video, highlights from the study and what appears to be the full report in PDF.
posted by Mo Nickels at 10:38 AM on June 20, 2001


NE1 4 CYBER???

The internet is not the PlayPlace down at the local Burger King. There are things there that children shouldn't see, but that doesn't mean that we all censor them just to "protect the children." What's wrong, jfuller, with door #3, at least until you feel your kids are mature enough to handle being anonymously propositioned or being sent mystery links to goatse.ex? Teach them to be open with you, so that if they come across something odd they'll talk with you about it. I just don't want to go any further down the slippery slope of the government deciding what's appropriate for its citizens to see.
posted by OneBallJay at 10:46 AM on June 20, 2001


Certainly the parent can do this -- if he doen't have to have a job, or wash clothes, or cook dinner. If he does happen to have to work, and clean, and cook, and pay bills, and fix the car, and so on, kids are inevitably going to have unsupervised time.

So maybe the kid shouldn't be online at those times. It's one thing to teach kids about sex, but parents need to be around and supervise their kids' online activities. If they're not willing to do that, maybe they should rethink whether to bring kids into the world...
posted by owillis at 11:09 AM on June 20, 2001


what about us adults who are solicited online by minors? how are we going to be protected from them?
posted by tolkhan at 11:37 AM on June 20, 2001


accountingboy:

> What's wrong, jfuller, with door #3, at least until you
> feel your kids are mature enough to handle being
> anonymously propositioned or being sent mystery links
> to goatse.ex?

Fairly obviously the problem is that there are hundreds of pipes to shut off (I can't think of a single one of my daughter's friends who doesn't have at least a modem and cable TV; the filtered systems in schools and libraries are easily defeatable and there's some South Park type in every grade who knows how to do it; schools purposely inflict Channel 1 on their captives, and so on) and I only have the power to shut off the ones I pay for. The situation is fully comparable to finding dead horses floating in the city reservoir -- turning off one tap doesn't accomplish a whole lot when dead horse comes out of every other tap in town too.


> The internet is not the PlayPlace down at the local
> Burger King.

It is not. But since it has become heavily commercialized and as heavily hyped to families as Disney World (which was not the case when I first got online) there is going to be pressure to make the place a lot more G-rated than it now is, and the pressure is not going to get less.

In the real world there are fenced areas and clean neighborhoods -- Burger King playgrounds indeed, but also, for example, public libraries -- where one can be assured that one's young children will not be confronted by four-color displays of Li'l Cocksuckers magazine.

Can there be such green-light areas online? And they need to be pretty damned big, bigger than the catshit-and-flashers areas. If this is considered impossible, if the whole net universe must be either randomly X-rated such that only the most skilled users can take a bite of the sandwich without risking a mouthful of catshit, or else uniformly, by statute and police action, G-rated, then there is going to be a collision of interests and it would take a real dimwit not to see the collision coming.

I know I'm among libertarians around here but that's just a quirk of time and place. The Libertarian attitude (personal freedom is the most important thing) competes head-on with the Roman attitude (virtue is the most important thing) and there's quite as much to be said for the Roman as for the Libertarian point of view. I grant you that government control is not the answer to anything, given the quality of modern governments, but you're confronted with vast numbers of people (of both the left and the right) who are going to try to use government to push their agendas simply because there doesn't seem to be any other way. Count on it.

Therefore, the point of my first post: those whose bookmark list does include goatse and friends (p.s. I think it's .cx) had better think about possible ways to share the road and keep the dick-trickle traffic in its own channels or else we're all likely to end up in the territory Kafka showed us In der Strafkolonie
posted by jfuller at 12:32 PM on June 20, 2001


If there are hundreds of pipes for a parent to shut off, then shut them off...that's what parenting is all about, you've gotta be the adult.
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 12:41 PM on June 20, 2001


> It's one thing to teach kids about sex, but parents need
> to be around and supervise their kids' online activities.

Willis, my magic 8 ball tells me you have no children -- or else you're independently wealthy and have a nanny for each of your nestlings. Over here in the real world parents do the best they can with what they have. And even if that best is short of textbook perfection they are still entitled to be outraged when they find people pitching dead horses into the water supply.


> If they're not willing to do that, maybe they should
> rethink whether to bring kids into the world...

When my daughter, who is now eleven, was brought into the world there was no www. How many fingers are you counting on? It seems a bit extreme to expect people like me to have foreseen www.whitehouse.com in 1989.
posted by jfuller at 12:56 PM on June 20, 2001


DiplomaticImmunity:

> If there are hundreds of pipes for a parent to shut off,
> then shut them off...that's what parenting is all about,
> you've gotta be the adult.

I see. And if the air is polluted don't even think about attacking the polluters. Just be adult and tell the kids not to breathe. Heh heh heh.

Don't be stupid. Being adult is teaching kids to distinguish crap from non-crap and choose the latter. Being adult is also belting the world they must live in as hard as I can with the biggest stick I can pick up, to make it into the kind of world I want them to inherit.
posted by jfuller at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2001


Not only have we touched a nerve on jfuller, but we see that he's also obsessed with Catshit.
If you could, jfuller, please stop using profanity. There could be children in here!
posted by Doug at 1:20 PM on June 20, 2001


> If you could, jfuller, please stop using profanity. There
> could be children in here!

Aha, a convert! Offensive, wasn't it? Aren't you glad I'm a public-spirited soul willing to help clean up the neighborhood, instead of obsessively defending my right to post whatever I want, whenever and wherever? Yes, you are.
posted by jfuller at 1:29 PM on June 20, 2001


The situation is fully comparable to finding dead horses floating in the city reservoir -- turning off one tap doesn't accomplish a whole lot when dead horse comes out of every other tap in town too.

buy plenty of bottled water, then teach your kids not to drink from the tap. but if i happen to enjoy drinking dead horse flavored water, don't tell me i can't have it because your kids may find a way to get a glass.

the analogy is faulty. the city reservior is where a basic necessity comes from. finding dead horses there is a terrible thing, both for us and the horses.

the internet is not a necessity. there is a difference between denying your kids playtime on the computer and denying them clean and sanitary drinking water.
posted by tolkhan at 2:10 PM on June 20, 2001


The problem here is simple: kids whose presence online is too easily detectable. I'd say that the vast majority of these 1 in 5 kids are using AOL.

My eldest two kids (ages 6 & 7) use e-mail and look at certain made-for-kids webpages with only moderate supervision. But they don't have an IM client on their machine, and their e-mail addresses / logons are not searchable by anyone who might have an undue interest in knowing when they're available. They don't have profiles that tip people off to their ages by listing interests lie Bear in the Big Blue House and ponies. You can't prey on something that's invisible, and my kids are essentially invisible.

If parents want to protect their kids all it really takes is a little bit of effort and a real #@!*^& ISP instead of an "online service." Heaven forbid that there should be commercials or news reports that tell people that.
posted by Dreama at 3:43 PM on June 20, 2001


jfuller: I have no kids, but I was raised by a single mom. Somehow she was able to work and also supervise what I did. Perhaps she was Superwoman, but I like to think she was just doing her job.
posted by owillis at 7:10 AM on June 21, 2001


owillis, you and I have far too much in common
posted by OneBallJay at 9:22 AM on June 21, 2001


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