Dispelling media myths about online predation

My thanks to Danah Boyd who brought to my attention testimony she and a number of others including a professor from my undergraduate alma mater, Dr. David Finkelhor of the University of New Hampshire, provided to the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus. Their testimony has been posted online and includes video (note this version requires Real Player, but read on for links to a YouTube version), audio (43MB) and transcript of the proceedings which lasted just under an hour and a half.

I highly recommend either viewing, listening to or reading this testimony. Read also Danah’s posts which are substantiated by statistical data and do far more justice to the topic than I can. It is interesting to see and hear from experts in the field, particularly as their testimony is often at odds with the fear pandering and net paranoia espoused by our media, and in some cases our government officials. Take for instance this sobering fact. When it comes to sexual predation, strangers account for only 10% of those cases. The predominant offender? Parents at 78.5% of reported cases.

As a parent myself, I understand and advocate for a greater level of parental involvement in the lives of our children. Any child predation is too much. However, it is also important for us to work from facts rather than assumptions. The bottom line is that online predation is far less a threat to our children than the lack of parental involvement, guidance and love in their lives. We don’t need more legislation, we need more communication!

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[tags]online, youth, victimization, predation, netcaucus[/tags]

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