Wednesday, May 31, 2006

"A Smorgasbord for Pedophiles"

Mark Earley, President of Prison Fellowship wrote "A 'Smorgasbord' for Pedophiles: The Allure of MySpace" on May 30, 2006. Some excerpts:

A few months ago, a 16-year old New York girl began exchanging messages with a stranger on the social networking site, MySpace. It was a tragic mistake. One day the stranger-- a 37-year-old man-- drove to where the girl had an after-school job and sexually assaulted her. How did he know where to find her? She had listed her place of work on her MySpace profile.

MySpace. It's a place for kids to go to escape parents-- and teenagers know it. So do sexual predators.

The body of another MySpace fan, a 14-year-old New Jersey girl, was found in a dumpster in Newark, strangled. In California, the body of a 15-year-old girl was found floating in an irrigation canal. Both girls had MySpace accounts, and police are investigating the possibility that they met their killers through it as well.

Clearly, kids do not realize the danger. According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, more than 2,600 reports were made involving adults going online to lure minors. The center has received nearly three hundred complaints involving MySpace alone. U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan says MySpace "creates a smorgasbord" for pedophiles.

Tragically, our kids make it all too easy for them often. Nearly 40 percent of American high school kids have posted their personal information online--information that allows predators to learn who they are, what they look like, where they live, and where they go to school. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, teenagers consider MySpace the way to communicate with friends; checking for messages, and receiving them, is part of a daily computer ritual. And they reveal a chillingly naive attitude about what they're doing. As one boy told the Post-Gazette, "I don't think it is so much of a worry . . . everyone posts pictures and puts their ages up. It's kind of like a rite of passage to have MySpace."

Obviously, some parents, largely out of naivete, are not doing a good enough job protecting their children. Children and even teenagers often lack common sense. Teenagers especially project the attitude that they are invincible and that no one would want to harm them anyway. These days, it is merely good parenting to explain to our kids just how easy it is for predators to piece together particulars about their lives from miscellaneous facts left scattered about. It is also a good idea to keep computers in the open and to know which sites one's children are viewing and to whom they are speaking on the net. After all, this isn't Mayberry.

Check out the link to the original article. There are fifteen additional links about this and related topics for parents who are safety-minded regarding their children.

4 Comments:

At 5/31/2006 2:44 PM, Anonymous Andy said...

MySpace also markets sex on nearly every page of the site. I sent an email complaint but didn't hear back. There is some possibility that ads are focused on different age groups, but I am doubtful.

 
At 5/31/2006 3:28 PM, Anonymous JannyMae said...

We have an 11-year-old boy, who is not happy that we will not let him use the internet unsupervised. Thank you for reinforcing the need for that restriction.

 
At 6/01/2006 11:58 AM, Blogger Anna Venger said...

Jannymae,

Did you catch the special a couple months back on the pedophiles that were coming to a kid's home in VA thinking s/he was alone? Help me out guys, was it Nightline? Pretty scary stuff. My hubby didn't think there was anything wrong with computers in kids' bedrooms before that program (bec our kids are trustworthy) but once he saw just how easy it was for a kid to get in over his head with some of these whack jobs, he nixxed any thought of internet in bedrooms for kids.

You might consider getting a filter too so your son doesn't trip upon a site by accident. One day we were speculating whatever happened to "choochy-choochy" Charro and decided to do a search on her. "Whoops! That doesn't look like Charro! Close it quick!" It's just that easy to find something you're not even looking for.

 
At 6/02/2006 1:27 AM, Anonymous JannyMae said...

Good point about the filter. I, too have stumbled on things I wouldn't want to see myself, let alone have him see.

I think I'll look into it.

 

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