Would You Like Some Cyber-Candy, Little Girl?


I can guarantee you, that is the headline you are about to hear on TV and read in the papers. And, terrified for your children, you will keep watching or reading, which serves the media darn well. They have lured you in and are holding you captive.

Sort of like…online predators!

But the folks who actually DID the study would like to clear things up.

David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center and his co-director, Janis Wolak, took a look at the number of arrests of on-line predators from 2000 to 2006. The number of guys caught soliciting undercover cops posing as minors grew from 644 to 3,100 – a big leap indeed, but mostly attributed to more cops assigned to cyber-tart impersonation. Meanwhile, the number of guys soliciting actual rsennadnis
youths grew, too.

To 615.

Now, look, no one wants these predators to exist at all. Be gone, you jerks! But we are talking about fewer than 4,000 perps, all told, compared to tens of millions of minors on line. In fact, over the same years studied, Internet use among minors leapt from 73% to 93%. So now all but 7% of off all American “junveniles” are on line, and 615 guys were picked up for propositioning them (odds of 39,000 to 1).

Still, it rankles to think of some creep luring a 10-year-old to the playground with the promise of Hannah Montana tickets, right?

Of course it does. (Especially if you’re Hannah Montana’s publicist.) But that is not what’s happening.

“The facts do not suggest that the Internet is facilitating an epidemic of sex crimes against youth,” said the report, point blank. First of all, the majority of the folks arrested were chasing those cop decoys. And as Finkelhor said in a little e-mail to me, those cops “act far more enthusiastic when the proposition comes down than most teens are likely to act.”

We’re not talking entrapment here – per se. But if a youth isn’t actively appearing psyched for sex with strangers, his/her chances of being stalked are microscopic. Quoth the report: “There was no evidence that online predators were stalking or abducting unsuspecting victims based on information they posted at social networking sites.” So your kids can have a Facebook page and it’s not like hanging a red light over their virtual door. That’s why we’re letting our older son get a Facebook page, in fact.

 Moreover, the creeps thought they were soliciting adolescents, not little kids (and not – duh — cops). Many of the perps were age 18-25. Not to let them off the hook, but a 19-year-old propositioning a 17-year-old just isn’t as disturbing as a middle-aged guy with tuna breath promising some kid a GameBoy in exchange for a “cuddle.”

Finally – and I know it sounds like I’m from the Internet Predator Defense Society, but bear with me – the study also found out that most of the offenders were “open about their sexual motives in their online communications with youth.” So they were upfront about their goals.

 Let me be equally upfront about mine. I am not pro-predator. Hard to find someone who is.  But I am not pro-hysteria, either. And any report about online predator arrests increasing is going to generate even more fear among parents already convinced their children are in mortal peril from the moment they wake up (if they haven’t gotten their head stuck in the crib slats) to the moment they go to bed (if they haven’t been abducted on their way home from Mandarin).

I’m sure soon we’ll be seeing more stuff we can buy to keep our kids “safe” from this newest overblown danger. And more books and articles pleading with parents to “please watch your children at all times!”

Back to that plea for 24/7 parental surveillance.

The fact is: We live in the safest times ever for children. Until we accept that happy fact, we will fret and overspend and drive everyone crazy, including those surprisingly resilient people: our kids.

Yes, the ones barely looking up from their screens.  – Lenore

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44 Responses to Would You Like Some Cyber-Candy, Little Girl?

  1. BMS April 8, 2009 at 10:53 pm #

    My 8 and 7 year olds don’t spend any time online. But not because I think there are predators around every corner. It’s because they need real experiences, movement, experimentation, and exercise. They don’t need to learn that the only way to interact with others is via a keyboard. Maybe online predator paranoia will have the benefit of getting some parents to kick their kids back outside.

  2. John April 8, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    Great Article. I can’t stand the print and tv news anymore! We need more facts and -0- hype.

  3. Marvin Merton April 8, 2009 at 11:04 pm #


    Ah, we can only hope for positive side-effects sometimes!

  4. Graey April 8, 2009 at 11:04 pm #

    My wife and I are expecting our first child at the end of August. I’m glad there is a voice of reason I can listen to to balance the sea of hysteria crying about the evils awaiting children online (and everywhere else.)

  5. KateNonymous April 8, 2009 at 11:39 pm #

    When we have children, we’re going to do the same thing my parents did with the computer: keep it in a public area so that we can see what’s going on. My parents’ issues had more to do with how much time was spent playing games, but I think the method is still sound.

    Yes, I know that there are additional challenges here with wifi and new portable devices. I’ll bet we still come up with a solution.

  6. Kevin April 8, 2009 at 11:44 pm #

    The biggest predator risk to a young girl is not an online predator….it is a teenage boy full of testosterone.

    Biggest online risk to my 8 year old son? Porn links hidden behind seemingly innocent ads. Not some tuna-breath…

  7. BMS April 8, 2009 at 11:55 pm #

    The biggest computer risk my 8 year old faces is that his little brother will punch him if he plays Sim City too long and doesn’t share…

  8. crossgirl April 9, 2009 at 12:18 am #

    I read something encouraging along the same lines recently but it was worded by the media as this is the good news, BUT and then they followed it with something else alarmist and extreme and not a very real danger. I’ll try to find it. I assumed it would be posted here.

    On this issue, my mother is constantly quizzing my youngest who is 10 and quite savy on whether anything inappropriate is going on with my boyfriend because we met, shockingly!, on the internet so he must be a pedophile. I can’t get it through to her that the guy I once dated from church was just as likely a candidate and that statistically, the odds of him being molested by an uncle were much, much higher. *sigh*

  9. Bobby Hunter April 9, 2009 at 1:01 am #

    The american oligarchy (the people behind the Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama regimes) desparately want to censor the internet to stop those pesky bloggers from exposing their crimes, ie: the truth about 911 and other things. They especially don’t want us reading foreign news on the internet.

    Of course, they can’t TELL US that so they will have to use a cover story to get the internet censored. And child exploitation will probably be what they use. They will say “oh God, we MUST protect the CHILDREN!” and then tell all kinds of horrible stories about abducted kids.

    This was tried in Australia recently and when the blacklist was leaked/exposed it was full of political websites.

  10. The Mother April 9, 2009 at 1:36 am #

    I am one of the WORST moms for monitoring my kids online.

    They have rules. They can’t use their real names (even on Facebook). They CANNOT give out addresses and phone numbers. EVER.

    All online accounts use MY name and email.

    And I have administrative access on all their computers, so I CAN check up on them, if I feel like it.

    That’s it. No screening software (like that works with our computer savvy teens anyway). No rules about chat rooms. They may fly wherever the internet takes them.

    You know what? I haven’t lost a kid yet.

    And because I trust them, they trust me, when they need something.

    You can’t beat that with a stick.

  11. talesofacrazypsychmajor April 9, 2009 at 1:54 am #

    As a child of the internet generation I can tell you there were some pretty shady situations I encountered online while in elementary school. Never anything that was anywhere near translating into real world situations. But definitely things looking back on that I now realize we very much not okay things for little elementary school me to be experiencing.
    I like the free range kids thing a lot. I was pretty restricted in my activities as a kid. Which caused me to spend more time on the internet. I think in a lot of ways the internet is more dangerous than if I’d been allowed to walk to friends houses.
    When I have kids I want to be less restrictive than my parents were in the real world, but in the cyber world I want to supervise them much more than I was.

  12. Andromeda April 9, 2009 at 2:50 am #

    You should check out Internet Safety Task Force report — state attorneys-general wanted cybercrimes against children to be investigated, some very clever people did so (how I love the Berkman Center), and basically found that Facebook and MySpace are not any more full of sexual predators than the rest of the world is and there’s no need to totally freak out about things. But this wasn’t what a lot of people had been hoping to hear (isn’t it so much better to hear something alarmist?), so it’s been reported differently, if at all.

  13. Nicole April 9, 2009 at 4:17 am #

    I actually think the internet is safer now than when it first “came out” because there is so much more we know to protect ourselves. I was in the 8th grade when my best friend got AOL and we would chat in chat rooms and we gave her home phone number to some person. We were young and silly and curious. That was it – but the person was an adult and called and asked us some gross questions – we hung up, scared straight! Now, we know to not talk to random people online and give them our phone numbers and addresses. And I’ll tell my kids that, too.

  14. Evie April 9, 2009 at 7:10 am #

    But why did you have to paint a picture of the old man with tuna breath? I am going to be off tuna for at least a week.

    Great post otherwise!

  15. Tina Kubala April 9, 2009 at 8:21 am #

    I love (LOVE) when Dateline does the online predator shows. If you are dumb enough to show up to have sex with a 13 year old, you should have your face all over the TV.

    But I do think the media misrepresents the danger. One fact is never acknowledged: kids who tragically fall prey to these horrible perverts are kids who are venerable for reasons other than having a Facebook page.

    A kid of 13 or 15 who doesn’t have the self protection skills to blacklist contacts who seek to meet them in person without their parents is going to get into trouble in the real world. A girl who is so starved for attention is as likely to let her same age boyfriend have sex without protection, end up knocked up. A boy could join a gang as easily as fall pray to an online pervert.

    A teen with reasonable family life and self esteem isn’t likely to end up lured by one of the one’s Dateline misses. They are going to hit the “ignore” button and go on with their lives without a second thought.

    So instead of worrying about who is out in cyberspace, a parent should worry about raising kids who will protect themselves from harm.

  16. Karen April 9, 2009 at 10:08 am #

    Shockingly, I know a 27 year old man who’s met a 17 year old girl online. (Nothing even remotely interesting is going on.) They met on a marching band website and, whenever they happened to meet at an event they were both attending she *gasp* had the forethought to bring a friend with her. Scary, I know, that our techno-savvy kids might actually have some frickin’ sense, but hey, what can ya do?

  17. Denise Gonzalez-Walker April 9, 2009 at 2:12 pm #

    I worry a lot more about cyber-bullying–kids behaving badly online–than I do about online predators. My son and I talk a lot about how to handle insults and snark, along with the fact that online information often can take on a life of its own.

    PBS Frontline has a great series, Growing Up Online, that looks at how the internet is transforming childhood.

  18. Andres April 9, 2009 at 7:35 pm #

    How refreshing to find someone willing to take on the media-driven hysteria that has taken over the public debate about children and the internet. I completely agree with your point that although the existence of cyber-predators is worrying, the danger they represent is completely blown out of all proportion.

  19. sungirltan April 9, 2009 at 9:10 pm #

    tina kubala – i think you are totally right. i’m very anti media hysteria BUT i’m a social worker and i know from experience that online comms add another dimension of risk to already vulnerable young people, a big one.

  20. lida diyet zayıflama r10seoogle April 9, 2009 at 9:24 pm #

    So instead of worrying about who is out in cyberspace, a parent should worry about raising kids who will protect themselves from harm.

  21. Charles April 9, 2009 at 9:31 pm #

    There are a lot of problems that are brought up with this argument.
    1) What is or What should be age of consent? There have been cases where the 16-17 year old actually persued the older person (19-20ish) and the older person went to jail. Age of consent is a hard debate because how can we as people who either have or plan to have free range children say “its ok for you to do X at age Y” but then say “Don’t do Z at age Y” when Z is what they are biologically inclined to do. I am not trying to defend a predator by saying that “the kid was asking for it” but what about the case where the kid (and by kid I hope I mean teen) is actually the pursuer.

    2) How about the issue of putting people in jail for intent. That leads to Thought Police. If you bump me on the subway and my coffee spills and the thought crosses my mind to punch you in the face (I may have anger issues), could I be brought up on charges of Thought Assault? Actions are Crimes, thoughts are not. When a police officer is online pretending to be a child and talking to a “predator” the trick is that they are not actually a predator until they have assualted/abducted/raped/killed or done whatever. If you kid goes and meets the predator and they just have a cup of coffee at a starbucks and then go their own way, where is the crime?

    3) What is a Cyber-Predator? I am assuming it means someone who trolls the internet, finds someone, meets them in real life and takes advantage of them. That is really no different in my opinion than the predator in the park or by the school or anywhere who first entices a kid by any other means. This is about the Media making up evil sounding terminology that makes people afraid because it is a term they are not used to and to many people fear the unknown. I feel that the panic created by the media would have been less had they simply said “Predators are using the internet as a means to meet children” this tells people they need to educate their kids now about computer etiquette, just like we were all taught “Don’t talk to strangers in the park” when we were kids. But to say “Cyber-Predators” gives the idea that there is a whole new type of enemy on the loose.

    4) I have a dream a dream introduced by Penn Jillette on the radio show he used to have that somewhere on the internet are two police officers both pretending to be teens and unknowingly flirting with each other as teens.

  22. Sandra April 9, 2009 at 10:09 pm #

    My 15 year old son used to think it was funny to pretend to be a 14 year old girl named Sally when he was playing his online role games.

    Is he ready for the task force or what??? 🙂

  23. Charles April 9, 2009 at 10:25 pm #

    Statistics have shown that approximately 75% of female “avatars” in the online gaming community (World of Warcraft, Second Life, Entropia, Active Worlds, Red Light Center etc etc) are actually males behind the keyboard.

  24. pampliset April 10, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    You’re “letting” your older son have a facebook page? That does not sound very free range to me.

  25. travisthetrout April 10, 2009 at 1:53 am #

    Great Article. I think people should be made aware how hyped up internet predators are.

    I first experienced the internet at 15, chat rooms were new and appealing then and i was one of the first out of my social circle to get MSN. All we were taught as the general don’t talk to strangers mentality, which of course didn’t work. I gave out my address on a number of occasions, and ironically we still talk today.

    I didn’t suffer from my online experiences. I learned loads. What is more of a worry is students interacting w/ each other. that lack of proper social interaction, a society where children have more online friends than in real life, a whole new popularity contest to contend with, a whole new environment for potential bullies, petty friendship fights, and emotional torture for teens/pre-teens – something they shouldn’t have to endure.

    and the worse thing – a lack of imagination.

  26. Jennifer April 10, 2009 at 2:43 am #

    Charles, dost thou protest too much?? Sigh, I’ll attempt it:

    1) And adult is an adult is an adult. No matter what. As a woman of thirty, it would be MY job to deter a lustful yet misguided youth from pursuing me. I really hope you would too. You aren’t helpless; get some common sense. That being said, I know a couple personally where the girl started out underage (still in high school) and wanted to date her now-husband who was in his late 20s at the time. They had real feelings for each other, but wisely held off until she was legal. So this isn’t *always* a predator situation, but the adult needs to tread very carefully. (I DO personally think it’s silly for a 19 year old to be treated the same as a 40 year old when they have sex with an underage teen, but that’s a different topic.)

    2) Because “cups of coffee” can lead to a kid getting into a situation he may not be ready to handle. I’m Free Range, but even I know that adult matters like sexual relationships are things kids don’t need to know how to handle (especially stuff like saying no once you’ve dug yourself deep or getting yourself the heck outta there safely). Do you really think that talking, arranging times, talking about sex acts, and grooming for the eventual event is the same as having a mere “thought” about it?? The police need to gather lots of evidence and they need to have probable cause, or their case is going to get thrown out. They can’t go around arresting for mere thoughts. And your whole “not actually a predator” argument is just creepy. Reminds me of the Simpson’s Sideshow Bob quote: “ATTEMPTED murder, now what is that?! Do they give the Nobel Prize for ATTEMPTED chemistry, now do they, hmm?!” There’s nothing wrong with preventitive measures. You’d rather a kid die or get raped than prevent it?

    3) We would agree with you here, I think: same predators there have always been, just a new way to get to kids. So, yeah.

    4) Are you a troll?? What does this have to do with anything??

  27. Charles April 10, 2009 at 6:56 am #

    “Have you heard this argument? Is there no offense in ‘t?”
    1) “And adult is an adult is an adult.” The issue I was trying to address was the concept of Adulthood. The government defines it as 18 (21 for alcohol which is another argument). It seems the government has dictated “maturity.” I for one (and many people I know) started working part time jobs at 13/14 years of age, and graduated high school before 18. Would you argue that at 17 having graduated high school and having had one or more part time jobs for 4-5 years, paying taxes etc etc, that I was still incapable of being responsible enough to choose whether or not I wished to have sex with someone who was older than I? Without a doubt the adult should tread carefully but as you said yourself, sometimes it works out. Adulthood should not be only a chronological matter but a psychological one as well.

    2) Sexual relationships are exactly the things that youths these days need to be aware of. I mean youths in the sense of someone who is of an age where they hormones have kicked in and their sexuality is starting to become apparent. You are right, actually setting up a time to have sex is quite close to the line, but there is still no crime. Perhaps it can be argued that there is “threat” of statutory rape (or more) but it is still not an action. To use your analogy, Attempted murder is an action, If i stab you and the doctor saves you I could be brought up on attempted murder charges BUT if I send you an e mail saying I wanted to stab you, that is not attempted murder, that is just malicious thinking. If we could be put in jail for malicious thoughts then nobody on this earth would be free. Have you ever sped while driving? What if a cop gave you a ticket because he thought you might go over the speed limit? That is the argument against “preventative measures”. I would rather nobody get raped or killed but I would also not like to see people in jail for something they didn’t do.

    3) Thank You

    4) A troll? Where did you get that? Don’t you think it would be funny? Two police officers trolling the internet for predators pick up each other? Irony?

  28. Uly April 10, 2009 at 9:27 am #

    Click on my name, there’s a cracked.com article you might find interesting. Scroll down to the bottom about Amber Alerts.

  29. Renee April 10, 2009 at 12:16 pm #

    Thank you. This is the first time I’ve seen anything resembling actual statistics on the likelihood of a predator approaching my teenager successfully, and it is tremendously reassuring. I hadn’t been too worried about it, but more conservative than in real life. I probably still will be, just because it’s impossible to know who you are speaking to online short of a face-to-face. I know my daughter still lacks the skill or the will to recognize that people she meets online might possibly be mis-representing themselves. She’s starting to learn – she no longer believes everyone who says they are a Jonas Brother! Still, until she gains a healthy skepticism, I’ll be monitoring her activity fairly closely.

  30. Kelly April 10, 2009 at 10:49 pm #

    I find it amusing that someone would mention her son pretending to be a girl. I used to pretend to be a boy online all the time. I still have male avatars.

  31. Jennifer April 10, 2009 at 11:59 pm #

    Charles said: “BUT if I send you an e mail saying I wanted to stab you, that is not attempted murder, that is just malicious thinking. ”

    No, it would be criminal threatening. You can’t send threatening emails. You can THINK about sending the email, but once action is taken it is an action! You can THINK about sex with a minor all you want. No one is going to know what you fantasize about in your spare time. But once you take any ACTION, it moves beyond the realm of thought. The analogy with the police speeding ticket doesn’t fly, because you haven’t taken an action yet. Unless the police were psychic they would never know. Of course it is grossly unfair for the police to stop you for doing nothing. That’s why we have probable cause and courts.

    And about #1, fair enough, but that’s not how you put it the first time. Whether or not our society recognizes 17 year olds and under as adults or whether it’s right or wrong not to, these are separate issues. If a minor pursues a relationship with adults, we as the adults need to have the clearer heads, because, like it or not, it is still illegal. There’s no need for an adult to carry on an affair with someone considered a child. And if the adult loves the “child”, there’s no reason s/he can’t wait a couple of years. (Also, this may be a personal bias on my part. I think young people, who are still forming their sense of selves and places in the world, have better things to do than get involved with a much older lover who may distract them from that final important step of growing up. If a teen girl, for example, moves straight from her parents’ house to the home of her older lover, who will have the balance of power in his favor, how is she going to establish her independence? What’s the rush anyway? This is the mom in me talking, and the advice I would give to any young person.) For me, this issue is about more than just sex. But if someone just wants the right to screw around with teens because teens do it for him, well then it’s not really about the young person at all, he’s only concerned for his own pleasure. I like Dan Savage’s “Campsite Rule” for the older lover in one of these relationships (though Dan was not talking about underage people, just ones that are significantly younger than their lovers, especially the 18-25 crowd dating over 30). That rule is: leave them in a better condition than how you found them. (Or, in laymen’s terms, Don’t f*ck them up!) Someone who uses underage people for sex doesn’t seem like s/he’d take the care necessary to handle the delicate nature of a young person.

    Another caveat of #1: You say psychological should matter as much as chronological when determining age. But, realistically, we’d have to do a psych evaluation on every single minor about a very subjective matter like maturity and sexual readiness. And once you do this, where’s the line? Somewhere, a nine year old is going to blow the psychologists away with his maturity. Does this mean it’s right to initiate sex with him? Tests have shown how mature he is, after all. Even if you say, well, the line should be puberty, of course, but even this is different in every child and with girls as young as 8 or 9 able to get pregnant, this criteria would fast become a nightmare. So, society has picked a line: 16 to 18, depending where you live. The line needs to be there. Now, whether it’s incongruous that a 17 year old can live on his own and pay taxes, but can’t vote and have sex with his 30 year old lover is another matter. I mean, people complain that 18 year olds can vote and serve in wars, but can’t have a beer. Maybe this is an issue that needs looking into, but in the meantime, we still arrest underage drinkers.

    And #4, I dunno, it just sort of came of of left field. Also, you seem to be a tad bitter about this and cops as well. Do you have a story??

  32. Anna April 11, 2009 at 12:14 am #

    Yessiree, Lenore! Excellent post. Let’s “get real” and stamp out the hysteria.

  33. Charles April 11, 2009 at 1:04 am #

    You got me on the email threat, it was a bad example. but if we tone it down a bit and go with the idea that we are two people one over and one underage who have been conversing via email/internet chat and the older sends a message saying that they would like to have sex, I do not feel there is a crime. “would like to…..” it is not a threat. At that point there is still no crime. It just seems to me that as a country we are on a slope to policing people’s thoughts and with that I have a very large issue. I have actually sat with friends and discussed how we would rob a bank, we are not bank robbers but with the “preventative measures” argument the police might want to put us in jail now to stop us from actually doing the deed. In Massachusetts the law was (and might still be) that you could walk into a store and hide things on your person stuff merchandise into your jacket or whatever and it was legal (maybe the store rules forbade it) BUT until you walked out of the store it was not shoplifting because you had not taken anything from the premises.

    I guess I am just speaking from the vantage point of someone who did start at a younger age having relationships with people who were older than myself (15/16 with 20 and 17 with 27) and I feel that I am quite well adjusted “normal” (and free range) person. I would hate to think that those great people could have been in trouble because of our relationship when it was I who really initiated the contact. I was young and hormonal and saw attractive people with whom I had a lot in common and we got to know each other and got involved. I admit the relationships were not long but to be honest on the first one I was fickle and moved on to someone else and the second one failed due to it being a long distance relationship.
    I understand that a “predator” would be someone who actively seeks out someone who is younger and impressionable and the before mentioned women in my life were not such people. I think that to a large extent most of the cases need to be treated on a case by case basis. You are right we can not test everyone’s maturity but when events do occur we must look at each individual, beyond simply saying “oh they are 16 they did not know what they were doing.”

    There was a show on TV (maybe it is still on) that featured a new reporter who caught predators by pretending to be a teenager, inviting the predator over then when they got the house having a teen meet them at the door, bring them inside and then the reporter with his camera crew (and police) came out and and all of a sudden this person on TV as predator and I think arrested. Yes the predator may have been there to do something bad may have even been thinking about it, but he/she did not actually at the point of the camera crew and police do anything wrong. For all we know nothing MAY have happened but now that person’s life is basically ruined. I think that is wrong. You may call it preventative but the best prevention would be to not give predators the chance. Educated our kids, treat them as thinking entities instead of mindless creatures and do our best to instill in them an way of thinking that leads them not to get into potentially risky situations.

    #4: Not bitter at all. Just think life’s little ironies might be amusing. Just imagine two cops pretending to be teens talking to each other online thinking the other is an also a teen, creating a friendship with each other based around their two “personas.” Do you not find that image amusing?

  34. Jennifer April 13, 2009 at 1:09 am #

    If that young person’s parent saw that email, she could bring the older person up on soliciting charges. If the email stays between them, and nothing comes of it, no harm. But woe be to you who gets caught. Also, since you are a man, the views tend to be much softer for older woman/younger boy. Very unfair and double standard. Unfortunately, the fact is that charges can be filed. The teen’s say will mean nothing. I just wouldn’t risk it myself.

    I remember being a teen quite clearly, and being insulted that I wasn’t considered capable of “consenting” when I damn well did. I wasn’t “able” to use judgement. So, while on a personal level, I think we baby our older teens too much (regarding sex and very violent crimes, as well as the lesser crimes of walking to school 🙂 ), on a practical level I do see the need for these laws. And now that I’m grown, most of the stuff I did hasn’t harmed me either, but I do laugh at myself thinking that I knew what was best for me. Some of those situations could have turned out emotionally devastating for me had my luck been just a little worse!

    I too have mixed feelings about TV “sting” operations (especially with prostitution, which I think is wrong and detrimental to women in most cases, but going after “johns” and humiliating them is just sensationalistic. Let’s go after the abusive pimps and drug dealers.). I also think (I am here, after all) that the sheer hysteria around these relationships and pedophiles is way out of proportion.

    And #4 again: Funny? It’s quite possibly the Greatest Love Story Ever Told! 🙂

  35. Myrna April 18, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    I write about how teens use the internet frequently. The main reason I do, is because I think many of today’s parents are (wrongly) more concerned about internet predators than they are about what their own children or their children’s friends are doing on the internet. They kind of stick their head in the sand. I also do not think the way to go is to “keep them off of everything until they’re 21”. That will definitely not work. Teaching our teens responsible use of their computers and cell phones will make them good cyber-citizens. That’s what we need for the next generation. The only way we’re going to get that, is to parent.

  36. Richard April 21, 2009 at 2:59 am #

    I work in law enforcement in the child predator unit in a mid-size city. Kids meeting people on the Internet is the tip of the iceberg. It doesn’t sound like anyone here has any idea of the extent that perpetrators use new technologies to victimize. I won’t “bore” you with details since you don’t think this stuff can happen to you anyway. No one does.

    But it is kind of sad to me to see how proud people are to wave off their responsibilities to keep their kids in check.

  37. Charles April 22, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    Nobody here thinks that this stuff can’t happen to us, we (and by we I mean me) just don’t see the evidence that this is a common a problem as the media would have us believe.

    I think you have missed the message of Free Range Parenting. The Idea I believe is so be responsible parents by teaching our kids the dangers that are out there but them letting them grow and live and enjoy life as we did. (I hope I got this definition right). “to keep kids in check” would be to stop them from “doing” instead of (and I say this a lot ) TEACHING them to be responsible themselves.

    Yes predators use new technologies to victimize, but why should we let fear stop progress? I would think that the invention of the automobile increased the number of child abductions but that does not mean that we stop our children from riding in cars, we just teach them not to get into a stranger’s car. The future is uncertain, if a parent does not allow their child to use internet (or other modern tech) they are not just limiting the growth of their child but also of society as whole. For all we know the 12 year old kid on myspace today might come up with a way to revolutionize internet safety in the years, based on their experiences as a child.

    And please don’t just give us the push off response of “I won’t “bore” you with details.” If you have details, if you have information then please share it. The more we all know the better off we are.

  38. S May 7, 2009 at 1:53 pm #

    I am so glad for this post.

    At 14/15 I was fully capable of interacting with strangers over the internet, and did so. I played mmo games, participated in chat rooms, and used instant messaging. There were times had “adult” conversations with people whom I didn’t know. I knew exactly what I was doing. I am still alive. I had the common sense not to exchange personal information and cut off communication with anyone whom didn’t seem quite “right” even if they didn’t explicitly ask for something such as an address. I developed communication/people skills I’d have not otherwise obtained so early on; it was definitely worth it.

    We need to teach children how to be sensible about using technology, not demonize it. Sorry nanny-state moms, your kids are going to eventually access evil things like MySpace and chat rooms eventually without you knowing. Internet access is EVERYWHERE. You can’t always patrol your kids. It’s essential that they know how to deal with people online. Do them a favor.

  39. Dodado.com May 14, 2009 at 2:24 pm #

    social media are always full of cyber crimes, i think parents should take care of they kids .. and not let them be any site

  40. amber August 8, 2009 at 7:35 am #


  41. babygurl January 20, 2010 at 7:56 am #

    cracked.com please stop this online sick o. Note everyone needs to know about him: Hey everyone this guy is on the fbi list & police. Child predator lists. There watching him. And may even be looking for him. Big boy will be going to federal prison where he belongs. Mr. psychopath going on people’s accounts he saw online. & He’s neither of these people. How does it feel now you little coward ? You are about to become bubba’s bi*** real soon or one day. Everyone is keeping an eye out on you now. No more trolling, stalking, or being an online predator. You messed up. You think were scared of you? I am not. Because you been going at it for over a year on this site posting sexual content to people & trolling on there names-e-mail accounts. Give it up. If you don’t it’s okay just remember authorities are after you now. This site may wanna find your info & pull you off for good if they are smart enough . He’s a loser, lowlife scum bag, He likes attention he gets cause he’s nuts. Let’s hope he has no kids. Because if he does they’ll be taken away because of this sick person. Here’s how you can catch him any name you see like a person’s accounts. It’s not them it’s him. Every time he comes on he posts sexual content. He maybe wanted so please be careful.

    easy way to find him which site has the stupidest commenters on the web?

  42. babygurl January 20, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Richard you are right. Glad you work in law. I also like to point out people now days are just to gullible. I had a friend who met people offline for years. I always told her she’s making a big mistake she trusted anyone because she was looking for love so bad & would with a psychopath. I felt like one of these days she was gonna meet a wrong person needless to say she met a few that were just bad crazy. One raped her & went to prison for a few years. Now she knows better & thinks twice & does not pull that crap anymore. I hope these girls on here read this. Not trying to scare anyone. This stuff can happen. People can tell you what you wanna hear & know. They pretend to be people they are not. 15/m then a 30 year old shows up at your house. Some goes oh well he sent me a picture. Really? Did you know some send out fake photos now days? It’s very easy to tell fake from real now days. Parents need to look & check up on these things. Do background checks. If you can’t find any detalil on them. They lied then.


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