Sex chat rooms sexting
And then there are the patent absurdities created by such laws—signs that legislators, in search of novel ways to torture so-called sex offenders, have abandoned consideration of efficacy or justice.In the case of underage sexting, for instance, a person is both offender and victim at the same time.During the period studied, the mid-aughts, there were 615 arrests for such offenses.Meanwhile, an estimated 14 million young people aged twelve to seventeen were accessing social media sites.In one of those three national telephone surveys—this one encompassing 1,500 ten-to-seventeen-year-olds, conducted in 2005—only four youth had “physical contact [they] would call sexual” during face-to-face meetings with adults they met online.Online predators are neither prevalent nor uniquely predatory, when they are predatory at all.
Yet each of these studies describing a less-than-treacherous Internet reiterates the necessity of teaching kids how to be safe online. The Internet is simply a novel site for a familiar anxiety, provoked by the social freedom that kids gain when they step over the threshold of home into the bigger world.
North Carolina’s Supreme Court just upheld a law making it a crime for a former sex offender to use social media that minors also use—that is, any social media.
In New Hampshire a judge rejected the appeal of Owen Labrie’s conviction for using a computer to “lure” a fifteen-year-old girl into sex.
But here is the deeper problem: the online offender statutes—not to mention press coverage, social analysis, education, parenting advice, and general fretting that goes with them—are built on nothing but fear. Specifically, it is dangerous to children, and in a particular way: sexually.
The underlying assumption is that Internet communication is fundamentally different from other means of communication. The stated intent of these laws is to protect children from “Internet predators”—even if those predators are themselves.