Sunday, June 04, 2006
Like most people I have been captivated by the recent Dateline Series “To Catch a Predator.” Every week, or every time I’ve caught it on the boob tube I’ve sat mesmerized watching dozens of really stupid men parade into a house where they suspect a minor is inside waiting to be sexually abused. I, like much of America, to the delight of NBC and there sponsor companies, watched unmoving for the duration of the series
Being the conspiracy theorist that I am I figured that the Date Line specials and the other media focus on internet predators must be serving some purpose for the extreme right, fascist government of the United States. So like the good conspiracy theorist I am, I embarked on an internet probe in search of something that would confirm my suspicion. What I found is that recently the US department of justice with the support of the Federal Bureau of Investigations has made yet another encroachment against our civil right to privacy. According to USA Today, the above listed federal agencies have requested that internet companies like Google, America Online, Yahoo, and MSN begin retaining or preserving records of your click by click activity on the internet. Outrageous, right? I mean if a body is not safe to surf the internet for porn where is a body safe?
Well guess how your repressive government is justifying this encroachment. Our friend and fellow brown-boy (man of color) Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales is saying that the information will help law enforcement agencies to protect your children from online predators. Earlier in the year George Bush and Attorney Gonzales introduced a "plan" by the executive branch to protect children from the growing number of internet perves.
Today after speaking with a friend of mine, a Social Worker, I went to the Date Line website to again watch the available clips. Again, I was disgusted. Internet predators are a big problem and threat to the safety of children! Right? Well…
I had to do a little research. This is what I found:
68% of children who are molested are molested by someone that is related to them.
40% of children who are molested are molested by someone who is in the social network of the child’s family.
10% of children who are molested are molested by strangers.
* Many child molesters molest from multiple categories of children so the above represents a number greater than 100%. The above data are taken from The Stop Molestation Book.
So what’s the deal with Date Line and the Attorney General?
Wouldn’t a more sensible effort to protect children from sexual abuse be focused on making mixed families safer for the children within them? I mean if the number one purveyors of sexual abuse against children are members of their families and most likely a step/adopted parent would it make more sense to teach parents, teachers, social workers, school counselors, and other people who work with kids to recognize the signs of abuse? I mean does this internet thing really happen enough to spend so many resources toward interrupting it? Well according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about 1 in 5 kids who use the internet for chatting are approached for sex. What proportion of those children who are approached are actually exploited or molested is not given by the Federal Government Website.
While 3 children die everyday from child abuse (Prevent Child Abuse, 2006) in this country it seems that if the Attorney General were really trying to protect children he would be focused on child abuse in the broader sense as opposed to the apparently obsessive focus on middle aged men’s proclivities for teenaged girls. I mean I could have told you that a 35-50 year old straight man would rather have sex with a 16 year old girl than with a woman his own age. I didn’t need Dateline to tell me this either. All one has to do for confirmation of 30s to 50s something straight guys desire to exploit teen girls is to take a stroll down the isles of their neighborhood adult book store or watch late night television until the Girls Gone Wild Ads come on. So Date Line/Attorney General intent is lost on me.
It seems that our government and Date Line would tackle this as a holistic issue rather than attacking what is arguably the least concerning phenomenon when one considers the ways in which children are maltreated in this country. As someone who has had the distinction of dropping-out of some of the best Social Work schools in the country I am more than familiar with Child Abuse data. The fact is that the majority of children who are abused in this country are not molested. The majority of children who are abused in this country are neglected. The second largest group of abused children are beaten or otherwise physically abused. If only 10% of abused children are molested and only 10% of molested children are molested by strangers and only god knows what percent of those children molested by strangers are molested by strangers they meet on the internet this initiative promises to protect a very small fraction of the at risk children in our country. I’d love to support a more broad reaching initiative from our Attorney General.
Child Abuse Statistics Ranked:
1. Neglect (54%)
2. Physical Abuse (19%)
3. Other Forms of Maltreatment (14%)
4. Sexual Abuse (10%)
5. Emotional Abuse (3%)
* The above data are courtesy of Prevent Child Abuse America’s Advocacy Guide.