Debate Guide: Online dangers
- "The web is a dangerous place for children, and they should be protected by constant observation when online. Each year 1 in 5 children is sexually solicited online"
The 1 in 5 figure is an example of the all too common deception used to scare people and deny young people intellectual freedom (supposedly granted by the UNCRC).
- It originated with a study done in 2000 by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, which surveyed 1,501 Internet-using youth age 10 through 17. The actual relevant findings of the study were as follows:
- The 1 in 5 figure was the number that had received at least one instance of unwanted sex talk (including from other teenagers), or sex talk from an adult (whether wanted or not), in the past year.
- The proportion of respondents who received a sexual flirtation from an adult, followed by a request to talk on the phone or meet in person, was about 1%.
- The number of survey respondents who actually befriended an adult online and then met the adult in person for sexual purposes, was zero.
- Source .
Elsewhere, even establishment authorities such as David Finkelhor and associates point out that the common fears regarding the violent, involuntary nature of online solicitation as well as the myth that withholding personal information is an effective solution are all unfounded. Professional consensus is moving towards "self-victimisation" - which to any sound critical analyst, equates to the sexual agency of young people.
- Source, "Just the facts about online youth victimisation" - Finkelhor and others.
Some, including Perverted Justice engage in scaremongering over the networking site, Myspace.
- "There are nearly 100,000 Registered US sex offenders on Myspace!"
The source for the 90,000 claim is highly contentious, and if correct, would actually demonstrate that Sex Offenders are particularly careful not to partake in social networking. Pew informs us that at least 50% online US adults with a social networking profile have a myspace. Since this refers only to adults who have and prefer to use a Myspace profile, the figure is probably closer to 65%. Multiplying the 65% by .35 (the fraction of online US adults who have a profile at all) and then by .80 (the internet access level in the US) gives us 18.2% of US adults who have a Myspace profile. A percentage calculation on the US Registered Sex Offender population of ~750,000 yields 12%, using the 90,000 estimate.
As it happens, Myspace only have a public registry to go by, and the Myspace registrant's purported details. As a result of this, the number of false positives and indeed false negatives is likely to be huge. The term "cutting edge technology" (and the like) is probably used by MySpace to appease US Attorneys General and Government, both of whom want this data to be made public. In reality, Myspace has no way of knowing the IP addresses and other electronical data of registered SO's. Perhaps, in light of this uncertainty, it would be better to point out that only a very small fraction of sex offenders are inclined towards violent attacks on youngsters, and a negligible proportion of this number used the internet to achieve this. Only a fraction of Myspace profiles are ever activated, let alone actively used in the long run.