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How Dangerous is Online Chat for Kids? 350

Posted by jamie
from the i-m-me dept.
The House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet held a hearing in my home town yesterday: "Chatting On-Line: A Dangerous Proposition for Children." Six witnesses came to Kalamazoo, Michigan and described the perils of on-line chat to Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan) and Rep. Charles Bass (R-New Hampshire). The most surprising and welcome news of the afternoon was that, despite the alarmist title, there was not a panicked call for additional legislation.

The hearing launched with Congressman Upton touting his internet record -- notably the .kids domain, now .kids.us. Personally, I like the idea of .kids.us, though some disagree.

The witnesses were Katie Tarbox, who in 1995, at age 13, had been inadequately briefed on the "rules of the net" and disasterously agreed to meet a child predator she'd chatted with online; two local law enforcement personnel, John Karraker and Jim Gregart; Ruben Rodriguez, the Director of the Exploited Child Unit for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Caroline Curtin, the Director of Children's Policy for AOL; and Kathleen Tucker, the Director of Curriculum Development for I-Safe America.

Everyone was concerned about keeping children safe online. It goes without saying that this is a desirable goal, as long as it's done in accordance with the Constitution and doesn't interfere with everyone else's legal use of the internet.

The problem is a serious one. Real kids are being lured into dangerous relationships over the internet; charges were filed in one more case here in Kalamazoo County just last week.

The preferred pickup method for child molesters nowadays is the internet: chat, instant-messaging, and email. The old tricks of "would you like some candy?" and "your parents were in an accident, I'll drive you to the hospital" -- those are yesterday's news. Kids growing up now need to be aware of different dangers, ones involving formation of long-term relationships, questions about online identity, and trust.

I wasn't able to find any reliable statistics on how often children are victimized using the internet. The best numbers I found were from a phone survey of 1,501 children, ages 10 to 17, who used the internet regularly. Of them, 19% had "received an unwanted sexual solicitation" (imprecisely defined) but only 3% had been solicited with "attempts or requests for offline contact" or actual offline contact.

And precisely 0 of the 1,501 children said they had been sexually contacted or assaulted due to online solicitations. This seems significant to me, given that 21% of all children -- statistically, hundreds of the children in the phone survey -- are sexually abused (by some definition of the term) before age 18. Unfortunately, 0 is not a number that extrapolates well to estimate how many of the United States's 70 million children will be physically victimized with help from the internet. But if I understand the numbers, it seems the internet is not the most likely source of danger.

A study called JOVIS is in the works and should provide some concrete numbers. According to Mr. Rodriguez, we can expect data from it in four to five months.

In any case, the message our lawmakers heard yesterday was not that we need more laws.

All six witnesses said, using almost the same words, that there is no substitute for parental involvement. Three called for more money and training for law enforcement, to give existing laws teeth. It sounds like law enforcement, especially at the state and local level, is still coming up to speed on this issue. And Ms. Curtin, for AOL, emphasized that ISPs were already taking steps, and suggested patience to allow them to develop an industry standard.

The testimony and discussion was so removed from proposing new legislation, in fact, that Rep. Bass seemed a little bored and annoyed. He had to remind everyone twice that he and his colleague were lawmakers: "As a member of Congress, I would like to hear what recommendations you have for what we might do -- I haven't heard anything about that so far. ... If I could reiterate: we make policy. This is a very interesting problem, but precisely what suggestions would you have for us as policymakers? If you could draft the bill, what would it say?"

Proposals were hesitant. Our local prosecutor suggested mandated inclusion of a CD with every new computer sale, which would explain how to keep children safe online. I'm not sure why existing explanations (here's one) are insufficient; why not just link? And Kathleen Tucker of I-Safe suggested standardizing on "digital certificates," client-side certs issued by an authority which confirms your identity using proof ranging from photo ID up to DNA (!) -- thus allowing children to verify that screen name BritneyRulez333 does not actually belong to a 45-year-old man.

That excepted, Ms. Tucker's testimony was refreshingly sound. She squarely faced the problem of child predators, and quoted Judith Krug of the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom: children "need to be taught the skills to cope in the virtual world just as they are taught skills to cope in the physical world."

Parents aren't there to watch over kids every minute. Just as they learn to cross the street without holding an adult's hand, so they need to learn how to wander the internet safely. "The value of empowering our children, through education," she concluded, "with the knowledge and critical-thinking skills that they need to be able to independently assess the every-day situations they will encounter while online cannot be overstressed... Education and empowerment are key."

In my opinion, that's exactly right.

But I wonder how effectively government will be able to help alleviate the problem. Knowledge is key, but kids are, as usual, embracing and understanding change, while bored Congressmen sit behind tables and listen to prepared speeches. Last week, I contacted three students, ages 14 to 17, and asked them about their experiences chatting online.

What they thought, and what they reported their friends thought, was pretty savvy. They understand the dangers, are well aware of the internet's advantages, and know how to stay safe. One student reported:

If kids know not to give out their personal information, and what could happen if they do, then there is really no danger. I would feel like I was missing out on a lot if I didn't have the opportunities to communicate online. It gives me a chance to stay in touch with my current friends, make new friends, meet interesting people, and find a group where I feel like I belong.

Another student reported:

I chat to other people almost every night, or whenever I get the chance to. I do not see chatting on-line as being dangerous, or otherwise harmful. Sure you always hear those stories about 12 year old girls chatting with 45 year old men, but I see online chatting as a way for people with similar interests to discuss and debate interesting topics. ...I strongly believe that if you chat online with people that you do not know personally, you should figure out what this person is really like, and if you can trust them or not.

Finally, I traded several emails with one girl who had chatted online extensively for years, and has met in person "at least 10 or so" other kids whom she first found on AOL -- including a meeting with some boys from another state.

This might seem like a recipe for disaster. But, not only was her protocol for establishing trust detailed and thorough -- paranoid even -- but she readily explained to me her reasoning for each step along the way. She's a poster child for "education and empowerment." And I doubt she's unique:

How did I know to be careful about creeps on the internet? It would be hard not to know nowadays. With an Oprah special about it practically every week, and news documentaries and polls, the facts are pretty much right out there for you. It's like taking candy from a stranger, it's common sense I guess... The types who would fall prey to an online creep would just as easily be a victim to a creep in real life... If the topic of internet chat comes up in school, teachers will almost always preach about safety and weirdos and such. So pretty much the topic of internet safety is inescapable -- it just depends on how well you listen to it.

I hope that's true for every young person.

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How Dangerous is Online Chat for Kids?

Comments Filter:
  • only danger (Score:5, Funny)

    by tezzery (549213) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:29AM (#3517037)
    the only danger of kids chatting on irc is them becoming script kiddies
    • by gazbo (517111) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:48AM (#3517180)
      Nope, kids are definitely in danger if I'm online and horny.
    • Re:only danger (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JThaddeus (531998)
      From what I see, the biggest danger my kids face from chatting is the time it takes away from their school work. Come on, parents! You mean you've never told your kids to beware of strangers? My kids get a lot from online and email chat--not just MSN or Yahoo but gaming and history groups. I don't mind a bit having to okay my kid into a new group but I shouldn't have to stand-by to approve each session.

      I'd also advise lawmakers to look to what the kids do to lead on adults. It doesn't take long on Yahoo! or GeoCities to find underaged kids [geocities.com] selling themselves.
      • Re:only danger (Score:2, Informative)

        by geronimo87 (578857)
        "Caroline" here is actually Jana from Alscans. She is older than 17. This site is toast if Alscans finds out, they love to club people with the DMCA.
    • the only danger of kids chatting on irc is them becoming script kiddies

      pfft, scr00 j00! 3y3 h4v b33n 4wnl1ne ph0r y33rz ch4tt0r1ng 0n 3y3 y4r 533 4nd h4d n0 pr0bl3mz. d0nu7 m4k3 m3 h4x0r j00r b4wkz3n! h4w h4w!

  • my thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MooseGuy529 (578473) <i58ht6b02@@@sneakemail...com> on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:33AM (#3517060) Homepage Journal
    Well I think that meeting people from online chat is still somewhat dangerous, but some people are over-paranoid; some people say that you shouldn't tell people your email address or state without permission from a parent--yeah, like they'll know who Tom in Massachusetts (me) is out of tons of people.

    Tom
    • Re:my thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Riskable (19437) <YouKnowWho@YouKnowWhat.com> on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @12:10PM (#3517746) Homepage Journal
      It's interesting that you post this because you're obviously not very paranoid AT ALL:

      __Thomas Tuttle__
      Email: ThomasTuttle@@@EarthLink.net
      AIM: MooseGuy529
      Yahoo: MooseGuy88
      ICQ: 1484(space added to prevent spam)03856

      Most (un)likely matches in Real Life(tm):

      Thomas T Tuttle, (617) 928-016X, XX Lowell Ave, Newton, MA 02460
      Thomas R Tuttle, (617) 923-923X, XX Bailey Rd, Watertown, MA 02472

      An X was added to protect privacy (just a little). I don't believe this is you, since you were probably born in 1988 and probably don't have your own phone line.

      Some of your hobbies: Cybiko, reading books (such as "The Giver": taken from here [sparknotes.com]), HAM Radio, Lego Mindstorms.

      Member of the Boston Ham Radio Club
      You're probably still using AOL as your primary net connection (you're still young, probably paid for by parents). You're also probably frustrated by this.
      You have a TI-85 (or similar) calculator that you like to fiddle with (and want to play games on)

      All this in just a couple quick searches. Maybe you SHOULD be paranoid. I haven't even looked at your slashdot info (just google'd a bit).
  • by cOdEgUru (181536) <cherian...abraham@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:34AM (#3517069) Homepage Journal
    (1) Take Interest in your kids dammit. No matter how important your work is, family always come first. Get your friggin priorities straight.

    (2) Ask yourself whether your kid needs a computer that soon. And why. Books might be better.

    (3) Take the computer to the living room and out of the kids bedrooms. Keep a watch over what they do.

    (4) Be frank with them. Tell them what worries you and what they should not be doing. Take action. Dont be passive.
    • I hate the "I agree with this post" posts, but goddamn you hit the nail on the head!!

      Especially this one:
      (3) Take the computer to the living room and out of the kids bedrooms. Keep a watch over what they do.

      Yeah, kids like privacy, so don't look over their shoulder. Stay in the room and check on them from time to time. Its all about being an authority figure when they are on the net. Just being within eyeshot is usually enough.
      Putting a computer in the kids room is telling them they can do whatever they want on the computer. What they SHOULD be thinking is they can do whatever is acceptable in your household on the computer.
      • I agree but don't at the same time. I let my kid have a computer in his room and have no problem with it at all..Because it has no internet access and there is no working phone jack. The only computer that has internet access that he can get onto at home is in the Den, where I spend a decent ammount of time working. As you said "Just within eyeshot". I set it up this way so he has his own computer to what he wants with and someprvacy but I will not allow him his own access until he is 14-16, depending on the maturity level he displays later on downthe road. Of course all this does not prevent him from doing whatever he wants at one of his friends houses that is less controlled.

    • All excellent advise, BUT, as one of the people at the hearing noted, Parents are simply NOT able to monitor their kids 100% of the time - and it is too bad that the larger environment makes such draconian monitoring necessary.

      There was a time when the larger culture largely supported parents in their goal of protecting their children - sadly that is no longer the case. Now, I understand that "protecting the children" can be disengenuisly used to advance all sorts of limitations of our freedoms BUT that does not necessarily mean that it is therefore NEVER a desireable goal of the larger society beyond the bounds of the nuclear family. Frankly (and I'm sure I'll get flamed for this) I don't see how some of the measures often decried on this board as outrageous violations of free speech actually merit such outrage. Free speech has never in the past meant that all speech was allowed in all forums. It has always been and still is illegal to show hardcore porn on broadcast TV, and all but the most insanely dogmatic would probably concede that an airing of "Barney" should not suddenly be interupted by a flashing images from goat.cx. If we are capable of making such a distinction in that case then surely we are capable of making similar distinctions in similar cases.
      • There was a time when the larger culture largely supported parents in their goal of protecting their children - sadly that is no longer the case.

        There was also a time when you wouldn't get arrested and sued for disciplining someone elses child if they were doing something crazy. Nowadays if you so much as ask a child to stop kicking you in the leg in the grocery store their parents will bitch at you up and down about "He's only a kid! He doesn't know better! Leave him alone!". Well NO SHIT he doesn't know better! That's why I told him to stop you moron! I'm certainly not going to lend any effort to helping keep their kids safe if they are just going to raise undisciplined little hellbeasts.

        Kintanon
      • They don't have to be there 100% of the time if they raise their kids right. When they hit their teens, your kids should be quite capable of determining right from wrong and knowing that a situation which makes them uncomfortable is one that they need to get out of. Stupidity is not a reason to make a law. If you can not raise your kid properly, so that they can avoid putting themselve into dangerous situations (including giving out adress, phone number etc online) then you should not be having kids. As my parents were so fond of saying, If your kids don't hate you and think you're the worst parents in the world, you've failed at your job as a parent.

        Now I realize that all the preperation in the world can't protect us 100% of the time, but that's what predator laws are in place for.

        As for a time when everyone asisted in keeping kids safe, well that was also a time when you could spank your kid (let me tell you, a little public embarrasment goes a long way towards keeping your kid in line). A time when kids could be lectured and ridiculled by their nieghbors and everyone else for something they did wrong. A time when teachers could fail a kid and instead of parents calling about what a lousy teacher they were, parents would ground their kids. The most horrifying comment I ever heard uttered by a parent was "we can't give [our daughter] a curfew, she might get angry!" News flash, your kids are supposed to be angry at your rules.

        Let's start by first taking responsibility for our kids and then worry about the laws.
    • You beat me to sayign these things. Nothing will every beat a parent, or parents, being involved in there kids life in preventing bad and unwanted things from happening to their kids. While a parent can't always be there 100% of the time, you can cut down the damage. Like the comment mentioned above, Computers should not be in a childs room. They should be in public rooms such as the living room or the kitchen, and parents should pop in from time to time surprising the kids to see what they are doing.
      You cannot legislate parenting. A parent, or parents, must be involved in their kids life whether the problem is drugs, internet predators, or some other problem.
    • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @01:42PM (#3518405) Homepage Journal
      (5) Cling to them. It will make them like you more.

      (6) Be paranoid. Kids respect unfounded fears.

      (7) Tell them what they can and can't do, because you know best. Teenagers especially have great respect for authority.

      (8) By all means, don't let them make their own mistakes. That's not how we learn.
      • by rark (15224)
        Your point on overcontrolling parents is taken (believe me, mine were nuts, I had to ask to go out on the back porch at seventeen years old. my partner, in contrast, raised his younger siblings -- and by this I mean the two oldest were responsible for grocery shopping, finding the money for food, cooking, cleaning, the whole nine yard, before they were in grade school -- parenting discussions between us get interesting ;) I keep hoping that the disperity in our respective crappy upbringings brings us to a more balanced, better upbringing for our kids)

        At the same time the original poster had some good points. Number four, in particular, is something every parent should do, regardless of the age of the child. The rest are more appropriate for children under the age of 13 or so, but are *important* while the kids are younger.

    • I'll take this bit by bit.

      "(1) Take Interest in your kids dammit. No matter how important your work is, family always come first. Get your friggin priorities straight."

      Letting your children or teenagers use the internet by themselves is not necessarily due to a lack of parental interest. Often it is an escape from the overly interested parents that a child can finally have the freedom and privacy s/he craves for through personal use of the internet.

      "(2) Ask yourself whether your kid needs a computer that soon. And why. Books might be better."

      We all need computers. Firstly, young children use them invaluably as educational resources where books are seen as "boring". A dyslexic child will find it very hard to read a book, but an interactive program can help enourmously build confidence back by removing the difficulties the child experiences in being restricted to books. Older children need to learn computing skills for later work, and for effective use of resources. A school project on solar energy would take hours of trauling through useless books in a library often several miles away, where learning how to effectively search the internet can produce useful information in minutes.

      "(3) Take the computer to the living room and out of the kids bedrooms. Keep a watch over what they do."

      A computer in the living room? What is this world coming to? Televisions are ugly enough, but a computer being encouraged to become an integral part of family life? Children need privacy. Parents wanting to read emails is just as insulting as them opening your letters. I'm sure you can remember the absolute fury and feeling of lack of trust when your parents cannot leave a child or teenager to write their own emails.

      To be honest, children under 12 are not interested in porn and cannot type fast enough to enjoy chat properly. The most we can do is encourage written communication through email- I sincerely doubt children would be writing letters by hand to each other so emailing is wonderful for encouraging this. Teenagers need their freedom so long as it is informed.

      Teenagers chatting is perhaps more of a concern than young children. I know only too well that it is easy to think you have found the perfect partner on the internet, particularly if you are having difficulties in real life friendships. When I was 16 I met a guy off the internet who was 20. I'd never had a bf, and never kissed a boy. I met him in London, 50 miles from home, telling my parents I'd gone to the local town to meet friends. He took me to a park and did everything to me except actual sex, and I let him because I was too afraid.

      So why did I not tell my parents? Because with all the hype about 40 year old men claiming to be 17, they would never have let me. I asked, they said no. Paranoia can work against parents. If my parents had been less against internet chat, an arrangement could have been made where the guy came to my house with my parents always there.

      How did I end up giving him my phone number? Well, I trusted him, and what could he do with a phone number? Okay I now have a strange guy from texas phoning me (in England) pronouncing my name wrong claiming he loves me every few months, but it's not exactly harassment.

      So what do I think should happen? Stop parents becoming paranoid! It simply accentuates the distance between the child and the parent. The child feels trust towards those s/he chats to, and the parent feeling convinced whoever it is s/he chats to is a serial rapist does not help. Teenagers who use chat feel like they have finally made real friends. Real friends chat on the phone, meet up occasionally and have a good time. Parents must try to understand this, and should two children decide to meet, then simple precautions must be taken. Other than that, children should be encouraged to chat on the internet. I have talked to many interesting people, ordinary people, culturally different people and males and females of all ages, and I can only say that it has enriched me and my ability to understand people in the real world too. Lastly, I totally agree with (4) :-)
  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:35AM (#3517077) Homepage
    Hey Cassidy!!! Happy 13th b-day!! you don?t know me, but i am a 13 yr old girl who wants to be your PEN PAL!!! i checked out ur user profil on AOL. my name is brittney & i just turned 13 and want to talk to other 13 yr olds about stuff like NSYNC (the best!), math homework (yuk) and how you shower togethe with your little friends after gym class and what they look like! it?s okay to talk to me about ANYTHING ?cause I?m just a 13 yr old girl like you!! Write back soon!!! p.s. do u have a favorite pair of panties rite back soon ok
  • by HiQ (159108) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:37AM (#3517098)
    In my country (the Netherlands) there was a report on tv by a journalist who followed up on a story by a 14 year old kid. This kid was being 'harassed' in a chatbox by an older man who kept trying to meet with this kid. The parents tried to stop this by going to the police, but they could do nothing about it because up till then nothing unlawful happened.
    The journalist spoke with the parents and together they let the boy make an appointment. When the time was there not the boy stepped in this man's car, but the (famous) reporter. The man turned out to be a teacher and I believe trainer of a boys football team. This will surely wreck his career and personal life, in spite of the fact that nothing really happened.
    But the important part is that *if* the boy had not spoke with his parents about this, then what would have happened if he did make an appointment. Surely this sort of thing happens all the time in chatboxes.
    • Surely this sort of thing happens all the time in chatboxes.

      Why is this so sure? I don't mean to come out one way or another on this issue, but extrapolating from one case seems to be a pretty bad method.

      Moreover, how many child abusers do you think that there are in society? Do you really think that there are enough that the average child is in great danger the moment that they can communicate with someone? If so, if there really are that many child molestors, then what percentage of the population do they make up?

      You see, if child moslestors make up 50% of the population or so, then it's really time to worry as fairly soon child molestation is going to become legal.

      Extrapolation is a dangerous thing. Always be wary of it.

  • by dr_labrat (15478) <spooner AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:43AM (#3517142) Homepage
    My son was chatting online and a piano fell on him...
  • Be careful! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neksys (87486) <grphillips AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:46AM (#3517166)
    I'm seeing a number of "use something like NetNanny" suggestions. This is poor advice. You're treating the symptom, not the problem. The problem can only be prevented through talking with your children about the possible dangers of internet contacts. They'll listen to you! Only then should such blocking/protection software be used, and only to serve as a reminder to the child that certain online behaviors are unacceptable - that the internet can and is a dangerous place at times.

    Please, please, please, don't entrust your child's safety to a $29.95 piece of software!
    • Re:Be careful! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by i_am_pi (570652)
      Yes. NetNanny/Bess/CyberPatrol/etc are easily circumvented and nothing really can take the place of good, watchful looking. My school filters the internet with Bess and I've found no less than 3 ways around it. It blocks most useful pages and everything fun (UserFriendly, allyourbase.net, mp3.com/tlmom), while letting a LOT of porn slip through, and the offenders never get caught unless they (quite stupidly) print it or store it on the server.

      Pi
      For Great Justice|ecitsuJ taerG roF
    • Re:Be careful! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by booyaka (563501)
      I agree, the problem must be treated, not the symptom. However, the problem is that in America, anyone under the age of 21 is treated like an infant. If kids were given the freedom to explore and immerse themselves in the rest of the world at ages 12 and 13, they probably would have enough judgement NOT to get into harmful situations. Another post mentioned that he would not allow his kids to run free in the public library for fear of finding 'horrific' things. Sorry, but this isnt disney land, the world does have some weird shit to tout, the sooner people come to terms with this and stop hiding behind oppressive legislation that does nothing to solve the problem, the better. Botton line: let your kids chat, but tell them that there are real dangers out there, educate them, then trust them enough to make an informed decision. Most kids aren't half as dumb as people make them out to be.
      • Re:Be careful! (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MoneyT (548795)
        Most kids are quite intelligent. If your teen is dumb enough to be giving out personal information to complete strangers, and dumb enough to believe everything he/she reads online. And easily influenced by a potentialy offensive piece of liturature, you have failed as a parent. Plain and simple, do your job or don't have kids.
  • scary stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tps12 (105590) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:46AM (#3517169) Homepage Journal
    Online chat rooms are very scary to me.

    As a parent I would be extremely wary about letting my children participate in such things in the big-name systems like AOL and Yahoo.

    Ironically, I'm sure any legislation would go after the "unsupervised" systems like IRC, while leaving AOL chat rooms to their own devices.
    • Censorship is NOT the answer!

      You should teach the child to judge right and wrong, not hide the world from the child.

      The child wont be a child forever, do your job as a parent and teach them, the sooner they learn right from wrong the better they'll be later on.

  • by atari2600 (545988) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:48AM (#3517185)

    I personally have come across a 13year child when i was 20y and she claimed to be 18y and would drool and sigh all day as i listened to her as i coded some crap
    One day she said her little brother was dead by drowning in the tub - very obvious that she was loving the attention - and to think for a few mins. i was so concerned and then i had to coax her out her father's name...the emails she used to send me had her last name and traced her static IP to a state in the eastern US and used www.switchboard.com hoping to get a hit which i did and called her mom up and gave her a short lesson in how to raise kids.
    The scary part was she did actually have an infant brother and she might have actually done something to him. Before you say the kids need to do something more productive, i would put the entire responsibility on the parents.

  • by drew_kime (303965) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:48AM (#3517190) Homepage Journal
    The testimony and discussion was so removed from proposing new legislation, in fact, that Rep. Bass seemed a little bored and annoyed. He had to remind everyone twice that he and his colleague were lawmakers: "As a member of Congress, I would like to hear what recommendations you have for what we might do -- I haven't heard anything about that so far. ... If I could reiterate: we make policy. This is a very interesting problem, but precisely what suggestions would you have for us as policymakers? If you could draft the bill, what would it say?"

    This confirms the worries I have seen here over and over: That lawmakers believe the only solution to a problem is more laws. It is completely inconceiveable to them that a problem may exist that is not best solved by increased legislation.

    • What do you expect (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nuggz (69912) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:05AM (#3517296) Homepage
      This confirms the worries I have seen here over and over: That lawmakers believe the only solution to a problem is more laws. It is completely inconceiveable to them that a problem may exist that is not best solved by increased legislation

      When your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Lawmakers make laws, they see a problem, then try to come up with a law to solve it, that is what they do.

      The summary suggests that more laws will not help. It is just as important to make the right laws, as it is to NOT make the wrong laws.

      Although even from the simple quotes they feel helpless, they see children being victimized, they have the power to make laws, and they want to help. They just don't know what to do, and it is quite upsetting to be helpless to solve such a problem.

      Now in business speak here is my solution. Get a cross functional team to come up with an action plan.
      Get lawmakers, enforcement, money people and experts together. Come up with a plan of attack, ie enforce existing child abuse/predator/stalking laws, educate PARENTS and children. Then go do it.

      I think that lawmakers would be satisfied not making new laws if they saw the problem being effectively attacked in other ways.
    • I don't think so. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by beleg777 (551987)
      The lawmakers were asked there. Their time is important, and they probably meant exactly what they said. It's an interesting topic, but all they are there for is to hear about ideas for legislation. He makes laws, and if the people didn't want a law made, why did they want him there? I don't think the problem in this case has anything to do with politicians, rather the problem would be people thinking that politicians are the people to solve their problems.
    • This confirms the worries I have seen here over and over: That lawmakers believe the only solution to a problem is more laws. It is completely inconceiveable to them that a problem may exist that is not best solved by increased legislation.


      These people are Lawmakers. That is their profession. They MAKE LAWS, that's what they do. If someone brings a problem to them of course they are going to look at it from the viewpoint of what laws should be passed if any to solve the problem. Apparently the concensus here was that no new laws would do anything to alleviate this problem. So no, they didn't decide they needed new legislation.

      Kintanon
      • But when one of his colleagues proposes son-of-son-of-son-of COPA, hopefully Rep. Bass will remember that his constituents don't want a law, and he will vote against it.

        I don't have much faith that that will happen, though.
    • He may think there is a good solution that doesn't require laws, but then it doesn't requeire him. Congress makes laws. Period. They don't enforce them, they don't set public opinion. Unless this is something that can be fixed by making a law, there isn't anything he can do. Making laws is what he does, and if there isn't a law to be made, he is wasting time that could be spent making laws.
  • by ShaunC (203807) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:49AM (#3517192)
    19% had "received an unwanted sexual solicitation" (imprecisely defined) but only 3% had been solicited with "attempts or requests for offline contact" or actual offline contact. And precisely 0 of the 1,501 children said they had been sexually contacted or assaulted due to online solicitations.
    These stats are both good and bad. While I'm happy to hear that none of the kids surveyed had been contacted sexually, I have to wonder about the 19% who received an "unwanted sexual solicitation." That phrase conjures up images of 50-year-old pedophiles, just like CNN and the local news hope for. It gets parents agitated and concerned, and it's good for the ratings. But let's get serious. How many of those "unwanted sexual solicitations" were more along the lines of:

    Billy12345: Hey Jenny, do you have the answer to homework question #4?

    Jenny12345: No I haven't done my homework yet.

    Billy12345: Well what if I came over to your place and gave you the answer.. and maybe gave you a kiss too..

    Parents - and the general public at large alike - please keep in mind that "unwanted sexual solicitation" is not representative of "sexual predators" much less "perverts" or "pedophiles." The unwanted sexual solicitations these kids are getting could very well be from classmates, not random perverted strangers.

    Shaun
    • 19% had "received an unwanted sexual solicitation" (imprecisely defined)

      Very imprecisely defined indeed. You make the excellent point that this "unwanted sexual solicitation" may be from classmates and peers.

      However, I believe these kids were talking about something else. What were they thinking about when they answered this question, you ask? Well, ask yourself (as an adult) where you receive the most "unwanted sexual solicitation."

      I'm guessing this sexual solicitation comes not from 60-year-old balding perverts in trenchcoats or from more-or-less innocent classmates. It comes from advertisers. Unscrupulous advertisers. The ones that spam you with herbal viagra offers, penis enlargement schemes and links to hot teen websites with cascading javascript popups, both through email and in instant messaging/chat rooms. I haven't used instant messaging since the heydays of ICQ, so they may have fixed this by now - but, considering the morals of these sub-humans, I wouldn't be surprised if they figure out ways around anti-advertisement measures (or, more likely, they pay a hungry programmer to figure it out for them).

      If there's any good that can come about from these parents' misdirected rage, it's that perhaps they'll convince congress to put restrictive sanctions on advertisers, severly limiting advertisers' possibilities.

  • Its good to see people taking rational and responsible steps towards solutions for such obvious problems in today's society. It is all to often these days that people jump to action not considering the side effects of their actions. I just think this is a great example of how to 'respond' to a situation, rather than react to one.
  • by uq1 (59540) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:52AM (#3517216)
    The real problem lies with people are too eager to give their real identity away over the internet.
    People should really start to think logically (and yes I know this is hard for a young child or teenager), but if common sense is applied, you should know that giving your name, address, phone number and pantie size to a stranger you've never met in real life is a tad stupid.

    I remember when I was young and my parents told me about "stranger danger". You didn't see parents saying "DON'T GO OUTSIDE, ITS DANGEROUS" back then. They taught their children right and wrong, common sense and most importantly, if something doesn't feel right, don't do it.

    Conclusion: Don't ruin something that you don't understand for those of us that do understand.
  • Perverts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by huckda (398277) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @10:55AM (#3517231) Journal
    My nephew was "approached" on an AOL kids chatroom, while at his grandma's house. I was visiting from college at the time and when he came and told me (he was 10) I promptly proceeded to tell the perverse idiot off and wrote an e-mail to AOL's cyber-patrol people(which I believe to be more of an automated mail system that gets grep'd for keywords rather than read) and never received a response.

    His grandmother then refused to let him use the internet at all, and the computer for games only when someone else was in the office to supervise.

    Sad, when a kid can't just be a kid anymore, on the net or anywhere else for that matter.
    • Re:Perverts (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Aceticon (140883) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:18AM (#3517369)
      His grandmother then refused to let him use the internet at all, and the computer for games only when someone else was in the office to supervise.

      Yep - the kid was definitly tought a lesson:
      - Next time something like this happens (online or offline) don't tell anybody or else you're the one that will get punished.

      Then again IANAP (I Am Not A Parent).
  • By 12 kids should know, or at least be tought that not everyone in the world is a wonderful nice person like in the movies. Sure bad things can happen if they're thrown right into the rawest, most honest form of communication without considering the possibilities of deceit and general evilness.
  • The Ornitech company of Warwick, NY happens. These kids went to a bank to open a business account where they were told by the manager that they were only 15y. But these guys went ahead and have since shipped hundreds of ornithoper kits. BTW, an ornithoper is a contraption that flies by flapping it's wings.
    http://members.tripod.com/ornitech/
    heres the kids's site. Its a nice thing that they could get online, atleast for the kids.
  • chatting (Score:2, Informative)

    by PyroPixie (579390)
    ive been chatting online, starting out in the stupid compuserve rooms, since i was 11. passes made at me and what not arent very common, although i dont usually set myself up in that kind of situation. i think that the news makes it seem like it happens more than it does because they only report on the negative things that happen on the net. im not denying that there are people out there that are sick and do take advantage of kids. ive met some people off the internet and there are a few things that i always do reguardless of how long ive known them. usually i talk to the person on the phone first. then when i got to meet them i either meet them with a friend (as in, i bring a friend along with me) or we meet in a place where there are lots of people. my parents never really said much about online saftey so i took it upon myself to learn about it. i believe that parents should be involved with their childs online activity, and even though as scary as it may seem to the child, inform them of the potential dangers of people online. it doesnt hurt to inform someone, maybe it will get through to them.
  • Considering that COPA just got sent back for review [slashdot.org], this is probably a good time for a discussion like this. It's important that it NOT be a call for additional legislation -- COPA may have harmed kid-sites more than it did pr0n sites, and it'd be nice to see some people with their heads on straight when it comes to protecting kids vs. rights as adults.
  • In addition to its many other positive qualities, open source could provide the best resources for parental supervision and control of internet usage by kids. (Note: yes, I favor parents' rights to supervise what their kids see and do on the net. I know that's not a popular idea with many people here. Deal with it.) With a system like Linux it's much easier to set and enforce browser settings and other services on the computer. A parent could decide what access settings to put in the browser, monitor (or threaten to, more on that in a moment) chat sessions, etc.

    I forsee a time when the home market for off-the-shelf Linux provides turnkey solutions to family computers that parents can feel good about giving to their kids. A solution of this type encourages civil liberties and privacy by showing that the market can handle its own problems without legislation. It encourages children's privacy by allowing parent to feel good about turing their kids loose on the web without watching over their shoulders (literally or figuratively). Yes, parents could secretly monitor chat sessions, but most parents don't really want to do that sort of thing. Parents will feel less need to do so if they can let the computer do the restricting and give the kids a little distance.

    • Just thought I'd clarify something... you say:

      yes, I favor parents' rights to supervise what their kids see and do on the net.

      The key word here is "their". You have every right to tell your kid what they can and cannot do in the internet. I don't think very many people would dispute that. However, you don't have any right whatsoever to tell MY kid what he can or can't see on the internet.
  • Repeat after me... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Denium (537999) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:10AM (#3517326) Journal
    ...the problem is not the medium.
    The problem is not the medium.
    The problem is not the medium.

    Some kids can handle it well. Others...simply can't. I'm an administrator on a large IRC network [webchat.org], and I've received only a few (three at most that I can think of) complaints about online {stalkings,pedophiles,unwelcome advances} in the two years that I've been an operator.

    I think a much more prevalant problem are kiddiots [antioffline.com] with WinNuke and friends that have abused the medium by {flooding,hax0ring,cloning}. They're not mature enough to understand that their actions have consequences, and that they *will* be held responsible for them -- both on IRC and the real world. I can't count the number of times I've had some idiot constantly abuse, only to sulk back and beg for forgiveness once they realize that it's easier for me to remove them than they previously thought.

  • Greater than the threat of online pedophiles and creeps is the threat of Washington lawmakers with too much time on their hands and too many idiots among the public demanding that they enact counterproductive and even downright abusive legislation.

    Luckily it would seem that while these lawmakers do have too much time on their hands, cooler and wiser heads are speaking on behalf of the public.

    Lee
  • by FatHogByTheAss (257292) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:16AM (#3517352)
    Chat scares the shit out of me. Because of it, I've had to explain what a 'pedophile' is. I've had to encourage her to lie. I've had to encourage her to not trust anyone she hasn't put a face on. I've had to tell her that most of the rules that apply to your day to day life mean jack shit when you're dealing with an anonymous no one. That when you are on line, everyone is a liar and a looser.

    She thinks I just don't get it.

    Kids are stoopit. Even the smart ones. It scares the shit out of me.

  • Go ahead and try - it's great big beautiful world.

    Honestly who are we talking about here? Kids from ages 10-13. That's about it. Earlier and most of it goes over their heads and older and they pretty much know how to deal with it.

    And put the computer(s) in your home in an open common area. The ones that aren't in an open common area you should put bootup passwords on.
  • by Ricky M. Waite (544756) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:18AM (#3517373) Homepage
    It isn't dangerous at all. I'm 16 - I started chatting on Yahoo! at 14 - and I'm still alive. Why? Because I'm smart and my parents thought enough to not only tell me I shouldn't trust to strangers - but also why I shouldn't trust strangers.

    Seriously - chat is an extremely positive thing. I've learned more in Yahoo! Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris:1 than anywhere. Had it not been for that room and the people in it I would have never even heard of Linux or *BSD or anything non-Windows. How about that? And I haven't been raped or molested or whatever. Chat is not dangerous - if the children on it have enough common sense and intelligence to know how to protect themselves (this is where parenting comes into play - a thing that is all too often absent).

    The problem is not chat - it's stupid children.
  • Uhhh, yeah... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Otter (3800) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:19AM (#3517377) Journal
    This seems significant to me, given that 21% of all children -- statistically, hundreds of the children in the phone survey -- are sexually abused (by some definition of the term) before age 18.

    You're uncritically repeating nonsense like this and you're using the word 'alarmist' to describe others?

    Come on -- doesn't that figure (27% for girls, 16% for boys, according to your link) challenge even your limited common sense? At least according to any definition of 'sexually abused' that is consistent with common usage, as opposed to getting one's bra strap snapped in fifth grade?

    And no, linking to another site that simply says 'a national study' found it is hardly documentation.

    My usual rule of thumb with stats like this is to divide by 10 and then start thinking about whether that makes sense -- 2.7% for girls, 1.6% for boys sounds like it's getting in the ballpark.

    • My usual rule of thumb with stats like this is to divide by 10 and then start thinking about whether that makes sense.

      You're so right. I realized something fishy was going on when they started claiming 52% of the world was female...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:20AM (#3517384)
    IRC can be used for evil. No question about that. But I have direct experience which suggests that IRC can save lives too.

    I frequent a channel that is used by a wide range of users, from teens to adults. There are something like 10 people who are there on a regular basis.

    One afternoon I got an email from one of the regulars. It was a suicide note. I rushed into the channel and flooded it with the text of the note.

    After some brief discussion, three of us went into action. None of us had the person's address, phone number or even a last name, but we contacted 911 in this person's neighborhood and after figuring out a few more items tracked down this person's information. The paramedics got there just in time.

    This person is alive now, in treatment for depression, and has a chance for a bright future. If a means for instantaneous communication on the Internet didn't exist, this person might not either.

    It is fscked that you hear so much about the bad things that can happen in IRC/chatrooms/IM etc but never do you hear a single word about how they might be facilitating communication and even saving lives.

    Put that into your mIRC and smoke it!
    • Yes indeed, I had a similar experience a while back, friend is in the US, I am in Sweden:

      A friend called me up, crying and said she had taken a lot of sleeping pills and just called to say farewell, she was rather hysteric and incoherent, but I managed to get through to her to call her best friend, then call me right back no more than 10 minutes later.

      A few minutes went by, no call back, I call her but no reply, has she passed out? Has she left the apartment and drove off somehwere? That thought really scared me. I get on IRC, tell a friend in England who works for a company in the US that I need his help and I ask if he knows any way I can get in touch with US police (can't call 911 from abroad). He calls his company, tells a guy there what's going on, that guy in turn calls 911 and gives her address, 911 calls local police, local police calls apartment, no reply. So we keep this chain going for a while trying to convince the next link that this is actually happening.

      Finally I get word that a patrol car and an ambulance are being dispatched to her apartment, we all hang up and just wait for something. Maybe 15 minutes later I call the apartment again, an unknown voice picks up, I ask for my friend and the guy tells me she's ok (well, "ok" as in not dead), but has been taken to hospital.

      A while later another friend at the hospital calls me up and tells me she's gonna be fine. BIG! sigh of relief. And it smacked me like a 2x4 that IRC and modern international communications had probably saved her life.

  • by Beliskner (566513)
    Chatting On-Line: A Dangerous Proposition for Children
    Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet
    So what's new? I would have thought it pretty obvious that if a kid goes to the mall by himself, puts a sticker on his head saying, "I Am A l1ttl3 k1ddi3", and then starts talking to any random strangers that pass by, that he might be in a little bit of danger if the stranger is not a nice man.......

    Everyone knows the real world is dangerous, but nobody says, "Make roads, stores, malls and all other places were people can meet children illegal". Simply install filtering software and educate.

    Amend Don't talk to strangers -> Don't talk to strangers, even if they're on the Internet

  • While this conference sounds like it's a good thing and that it was handled quite well, does anyone ELSE notice that they're begging a HUGE question?

    In the same sense that guns don't really kill people either, CHAT ROOMS ARE NOT INHERENTLY DANGEROUS. ONLINE CHATTING IS NOT INHERENTLY DANGEROUS. It's the SCUMBAG PREDATORS that are dangerous. That's it. No candy-coating, no translation, no study-group research required.

    Once our society (and I'm talking about the USA mostly, but the 'enlightened' western democracies in general as well) figures out that evil predators cannot be 'treated', they cannot be 'rehabilitated' and they cannot be reasoned with - then & only then will we be able to come to a long-term solution.

    All we can do is to treat them like the animals they are. You cannot expect to 'reason' a carnivore away from considering you his next meal. You can only do two things:
    1) kill him, so he cannot threaten you, or
    2) hurt him so badly that he will live in perpetual fear of coming near you.

    Sex offenders likewise. Underage girls and boys are off limits. Predate upon them and you should suffer the harshest penalty a society is willing to dish out. I should point out - like the carnivore analogy above, this will NOT prevent children from being the victims of sexual predators. It won't. But it will deter some of them, and those it doesn't deter will (if the penalty is draconian enough) never repeat their crime.

    All this fear about "chat rooms" is talking about the symptom, and ultimately NOT addressing the main thing that's wrong. If it's not on the playground, or at the mall, or in the chatroom, or by email, in 10 years it'll be via whatever new medium people are using at that time to communicate. The medium is not the point. The point is addressing the sick creeps USING the medium to prey upon the helpless & naive.
  • How much difference is there between chatting online and chatting with people in real life? The same rules apply: Don't trust strangers.

    I only chat with people I know, and occasionally if somebody I don't know approaches me, I would make sure the person doesn't have any harmful intentions before I continue the conversation. Pretty much same to real life I guess.

    It's actually less dangerous than in real life. Unless you actually meet those people or unless you're totally obsessed with your online life, there aren't many ways people could do you harm (other than h4x0ring your b0x3n)
  • by happyclam (564118) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:28AM (#3517441)

    My 12-year-old neighbor had one of her friends over yesterday and was playing with my 5-year-old in the yard. I asked her about chatting online. She said, "We're always really careful not to go to those bad places on line."

    Even though she was just a neighbor, I felt proud of her savvy.

    Then her friend "Alex" spoke up: "You know, I was on the Disney site and saw a listing of places not to go because those places would have like subversive ideas and people I shouldn't talk to. I mean, 'slashdot' is such a cute name. Who would have known it was filled with criminals and perverts?"

  • by wowbagger (69688) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:33AM (#3517485) Homepage Journal

    Oompa loompa doompety doo
    I've got another puzzle for you
    Oompa loompa doompety dee
    If you are wise you'll listen to me

    Who do you blame when your kid is a brat
    Pampered and spoiled like a siamese cat
    Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame
    You know exactly who's to blame
    The mother and the father

    Oompa loompa doompety da
    If you're not spoiled then you will go far
    You will live in happiness too
    Like the Oompa Loompa Doompety do

    Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
  • by MarkedMan (523274) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:36AM (#3517505)
    First, I don't disagree with the need for parental involvement. It is very important and irreplacable. But there seems to be a reactionary myth floated by many in the Geek community: Parental Involvement Solves All. While there is no doubt that a parent sitting next to their child helping them surf is a good thing, do we let the web community become such a sewer it becomes the only way we can let kids surf? No, I'm not saying we are there now. But all laws are not automatically bad, and a continued insistance that the only accpetable way to limit what kids exposure is successful parental training is foolish at best. Because the reality, and I stress reality, is that young children don't have fully developed warning systems. They don't fully understand the consequences of their actions. And they don't always listen to their parents. Because they are _children_. It is unquestionably a parents job to train them. But there are parents who don't do this well, or at all, and we, as a society, can't just throw their children to the wolves.
    • Excellently stated.

      Another point about parental involvement is that often, parents aren't properly educated about how to monitor and supervise their kids. Parenting is difficult, folks, and there's no user manual or README file for a kid. And, keeping this study [apa.org] in mind, many of the parents who think they're good at it actually are not.

      So, what perhaps would have been a good suggestion to the legislators, to ease their boredom, would be the establishment of a federal department or program that would help educate parents on how to monitor their kids's usage of the internet. Proactive help, not reactionary restriction.

  • What's funny is that I have an 9 year old sister. All she does is play UT (of course, with Mutator moregore), Q3, and RtCW. We have a 6 computer setup with 1 being the linux box/modem server. Occaisionally, she plays online games. Well, you cant even tell that she's 9. She seems more llike 15 or so.

    And now she's learning l33tsp33k.
  • Well, the two congressmen were republicans. Generally the conservatives stand against government legislation whenever possible.

    So, if you discuss these types of issues with a republican, remind them that government has never been able to solve social problems.

    If you're discussing these issues with a democrat, then tell them that there are "greater evils caused by man!" They usually won't dare disagree with you on that one...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I visited Katie Tarox's website and was quite disturbed by what I found. Two things;
    One, her voting - 'have you ever met someone in person from the internet?', I had to vate yes Katie, you see I met my future wife online in 1986. This 'poll' is worthless as it makes no linkage to the age of the person who votes, my wife and I were both over 30.
    Two, the guestbook is deplorable Names, Locations, and email address's all laid out read for the potential stalker.

    I haven't read katie.com (the book), and question it's value as apparently Katie Tarbox hasn't learned anything other than self promotion.
    I won't pretend to know what kind of pain she might have experienced but putting the screws to honest adults because of the actions of criminals is not acceptable, and twisting the truth (the poll), is no way to fix, protect, or change anything. The ends DO NOT justify the means.
  • by kmellis (442405) <kmellis@io.com> on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @11:51AM (#3517618) Homepage
    But if I understand the numbers, it seems the internet is not the most likely source of danger.

    It's not. Just as the dark parking garage is not the most likely place to be raped.

    In both molestation and rape, the perps are most often someone that is close or known to the victim. A woman is more likely to be raped by a coworker, or someone she's gone on a date with, than she is by a stranger. Similarly, a child is far more likely to be sexually abused by (in this order) a sibling or a parent, another relative, a trusted family acquaintance or someone that has authority over the children.

    What is peculiar about these facts are that the dangers that are most feared, obsessed about, and reported, are those that are least likely! I don't think this is mere coincidence.

    Firstly, the idea that an immediate family member might be the primary danger in terms of child sexual abuse is so frightening and discomfitting that it's just something most people can't process. For women, who simply can't avoid working with men, or dating or being social with men; to be in constant fear of assault is also frightening and discomfitting. As a result, people concentrate on the threat that they perceive as being more controllable -- teaching kids to not take candy from strangers and being escorted to your car at night.

    The other side of this is that there is, nevertheless, an awareness of just how insecure personal safety really is. There is very real fear, and that fear needs a target. So the less likely sources of danger are emphasized both by default and because they are recieving the fear that is transferred from the more likely sources.

    And, of course, there's the base human instinct to identify a villainous "other" as "the enemy".

    As someone who worked in Rape Crisis for a year or so, I've always been very, very annoyed at the attention that stranger rape gets in the media and around the water cooler and in the dorm. Yes, it happens. And, yes, it's horrible. But while an entire college campus might be mobilized to be on the defensive from an individual (stranger) rapist, over the same period of time there are probably several times the number of acquaintence rapes that occur. The obsession with stranger rape certainly does come at the expense of awareness of the greater risk of acquaintence rape.

    And just so with various fears about child abuse: Internet pedophiles, satanic ritual abuse, day-care center pedophiles -- even the current uproar over the Catholic clergy -- all of these only account for a small portion of the total child sexual abuse that is perpetrated. But they get all the press, all of the outrage, and most of the funding and education, and support services.

    Parents, in particular, have the very natural desire to protect their children absolutely. Any risk is seen as significant. This is a natural instinct. But the truth is that to truly be responsible for the safety and well-being of their children -- as they have a moral imperative to be -- parents must make the mental effort to identify and protect their children from the threats they actually face, not the threats that are the most sensational. Being outraged, or extremely fearful, or disgusted, or any other strong emotion doesn't validate a "policy" that insufficiently protects your children.

  • I am sure lawmakers find it real sexy (and electorally worthwhile) to make laws about protecting kids from the monsters you can find on that dark and dangerous internet. The fact is that in most cases kids are abused by people they know: "The majority of all children countable under the Harm Standard (78%) were maltreated by their birth parents, and this held true both for children who were abused (62% were maltreated by birth parents) and for those who were neglected (91% experienced neglect by birth parents)" (source Third National Incidence Study Of Child Abuse And Neglect [calib.com]. The NCCAN [calib.com] has a good number of reports on the subject of abused chikdren BTW.

    So before spending energy, money and public attention in a law that will impact a very small number of cases maybe it would be wise to focus on more important dangers, and find ways to better protect kids from dangerous parents, priests (I know, it's a cheap shot ;--), soccer coaches... while still allowing them to live a normal kid life and not succomb to Paranoia [brinkster.com].

    There is no 100% safe society (nor is it desirable to have one), so we have to pick our fights and try to improve it where it really makes a difference, not just where it looks good in a press release.

  • The internet is no different from a town commons.

    The pervs and your kids are in your neighborhood, along with the dope dealers and the junkies, the whores and the johns, the cops and the crooks. The worst ones are the ones who abuse the opportunities afforded them by their position in society or in their organization.

    Society (you?) NEED better surveilance. Its either going to come from cameras mounted on tall poles and monitored by an expensive "security" apparatus

    Or you'll just have to watch your own damn kids and neighborhood, won't you?
  • Unfortunately, this can break some web based chat sites. But there are so many porn sites that snare browsers with Javascript (technically, the browser is broken if it can success ... but we already know IE and NS are broken beyond all hope) that even if a kid is savvy enough to immediately back out of an accidentally encountered porn site, he/she may end up being snatched back in.

  • As a former assistant sysop on the Compuserve Student's forum about 10 years ago, I personally witnessed attempts by adults to engage teens in sexually oriented chat. Part of my duties were monitoring the chatrooms and keeping logs of conversations that occurred there. I personally complained to CIS management in several cases where a teen was approached by an adult with inappropriate conversation. CIS would take action with regard to these complaints.

    Now this isn't a call for draconian legislation. The Internet is in many ways like a large city. There are places where I, as a parent, would not allow my children to go without supervision in a city. Similarly, there are places where I would not allow my children to go online without supervision. Unsupervised chatrooms are one of those places.
  • by gdyas (240438) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @01:55PM (#3518515) Homepage

    Tuesday, May 14 2002 - New York, NY

    In a nationwide epiphany the likes of which haven't been seen since people realized due to the Enron collapse that (GASP) investment analysts might not have their best interests at heart, parents nationwide suddenly realized that television, video game consoles, and computers are not actually necessary to the raising of a child.

    May Johnson, mother of Jonathan, age 8, and Michelle, age 11, was stunned when she realized over the weekend that a mid-day power outtage due to high winds in the Tuskaloosa area allowed her to have the longest conversation she's ever had with her children.

    "When the TV popped off, at first Shelly & I just sat there kinda stunned, looking out the window at the trees being blown around. Then Jon came in from his room & said something about the wind must've blown down a line, & how it messed up a game he was playing. We talked about the weather a bit, & that led to Michelle talking about how windy it was at soccer practice & how it affected her shooting. We ended up in the dining room playing Trivial Pursuit, talking and laughing about the questions before they helped me make dinner. I was watching Shelly cut up the veggies when I realized we hadn't really talked to one another about anything for a couple of weeks, 'till then. Heck, it was about 7 before we realized the power had come back on about 2 hours before, but we were having too much fun to go back to whatever it was we were doing. When my husband got home that night we talked about it, and decided that we're cancelling our cable. For the $50 a month it costs we figure we could take the kids camping or something & get more fun for our money.

    In the wake of similar comments, investment analysts for the tech industry were widely downgrading the stocks of such stalwarts as Sony, Disney, and AOL/TW.

    "We don't quite know what people are doing with their time lately, but they sure as heck aren't watching TV or surfing the 'net" said Derek Cashmacher of Citicorp as he downgraded AOL/Time Warner from "BUY BUY BUY" to "buy".

  • by ymgve (457563) on Tuesday May 14, 2002 @02:49PM (#3518931) Homepage
    From the article:

    Of them, 19% had "received an unwanted sexual solicitation"...

    ...the other 81% were the ones who were SENDING unwanted sexual solicitation. (Think horny, puberty-laden 14-year-old boys...)

Swap read error. You lose your mind.

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