Nonexistent internet "sexual predator" threat

Bruce Schneier quotes this story summarizing an article recently published in American Psychologist titled Online "predators" and their victims: Myths, realities, and implications for prevention and treatment.

Essentially, their findings are that internet sexual predation as imagined by paranoid parents, crazy reporters and idiot politicians hardly exists. Almost all internet "predators" are actually people who use the internet to find willing adolescents to engage in consensual sex. Three quarters of "victims" even do it again.

The problem is not in internet "predators", the problem is the insane statutory rape laws across the U.S. Teenagers want to, and do, have sex. That's the reality. Sending people to jail for consensual sex with a 16-year old (let alone a 17-year old!) is just stupid and compounds the damage.

16-year olds who want to have sex are going to have sex anyway.

The age of consent in Slovenia is 15 years - it even used to be 14 - and I think that's a lot more compatible with reality.

Some things you can legislate against successfully, other things - like drug use or teenage sex - you just can't. Water flows down even if Congress decrees it must flow up, regardless of penalty. Laws need to work with reality, not against it.

Comments

verbatim said…
Americans are crazy. They also put those kids on sexual offenders list for a lifetime. It is not normal that you put a 17 years old boy into jail for 10 years just for having a consensual oral sex with a 15 years old girl (Genarlow Wilson case for example). In U.S. the police is also charging people that only talk about sex on the MSN for example if one is a minor.

14/15 years old are appropriate ages for consent. Under 15 years age difference (like 3 years)should also matter like in some advanced European countries. So if a boy is 15 years old, and a girl 13 years, it is still OK.

Sexual predators or pedophiles as it is modern to call them now also mainly "exists" because of stupid parents and lame family groups. Now you basically can't take a photo of children playing football, playing on the beach or in a park although those are always nice motives. Not to mention that in USA they put you in jail for taking photo of your own naked child.

Laws should only prohibit taking sexualized! nude photos of younger than 14/15 years old like in continental Europe. The problem in some english speaking countries is that I can watch a 15 years old girl topless, thong clad girl on the beach, but if I would take a photo of her they would classify me as a pedophile. This is just a wrong world... In older newspapers/european movies you can constantly see naked children. Now they will put film makers in jail as majority of people don't distinguish between simple nudity and real sexual predators which are almost always close relatives of the victim.

But I am afraid that Europe is slowly turning into USA regarding sexual predators obsession.
denis bider said…
Is it?

Europe turning into the US with regard to pedo-paranoia, that is?

I would have thought that fundamentalist Christianity is a large part of this problem in the US, and that it would consequently be rarer in Europe - though still present because there are people with out-of-whack religious beliefs.
verbatim said…
Sure is. Greater numbers of people are obsessed with pedophiles (not to mention "strangers who will attack their children" in the middle of the day). Less and less people touch other's people children even in case of urgency or accident. I even saw this in real life. I am sure this is because of U.S. tv shows on TV every night and every third is about pedophiles.

For the first time in history, more than one in every 100 American adults is in jail or prison, according to a new report.
This is not normal and they are loosing a lot of productive working force.
http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/02/28/prison.population.ap/index.html

I am sure at least half of those "criminals" would never be punished or even arrested in Europe...

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