Thursday, February 04, 2010


Kent Hanlin, an investigator with the Nebraska State Patrol, is passionate about his calling, which is apparently to put all the state's children in jail. He's going all over Nebraska speaking to school children with lines like these:
“We have girls who take topless pictures of themselves and e-mail it to their boyfriends, thinking it will help keep him (in the relationship),” he said.

“Boys do nasty things with video and send it to their girlfriends,” he said. “They may change (the images) to include a sex act.”

“I have seen where they hold the cell phone over the stall and shoot photos,” he said. “Yeah, they think it’s funny. But a picture like that could make you a registered sex offender.”

“People take pictures for yearbooks, then digitize them where it becomes a porn case and hate crime,” he said. “Another case was described (by the predator) as a ‘potential’ — one where the girl was in a cheerleading outfit and eating a lolly. The picture was later digitally enhanced.”

“If you have pictures of people partying, you love it as a cop. Why not give it over as evidence to arrest you?” he said. “And I can go to a chat room as an invisible visitor. I have a lot of tricks to follow the information.”

“This thing is all around. It’s in your back yard,” Hanlin said. “The predators go where you are at. They are at the malls and swimming pools. They can sit in a city park or in the yard by the daycare and start taking pictures, and you can’t stop them."

“These online predators say, ‘Trust me, I know what I’m doing.’ They are good, and they are fast,” he said. “By the end of the conversation, they know a girl’s chest size. More boys don’t tell if they are victims. Boys think they are macho and quiet.”

“A stranger is someone you don’t know,” he said. “They may give you their name and photo, but they’re still a stranger. It could be a bad guy.”

“You become a statistic, and you become a victim,” he said of Internet offenses.
OK, admittedly there are some very nasty people in this world, and kids should be taught to have common sense, but with all this fear-mongering we are turning our children into paranoid recluses.
Kids who are constantly warned of stranger danger come to see the world as a very threatening, dangerous place. Every interaction puts them at risk. For some young kids, they don't even understand the distinction between "stranger" and "strange" – so they think that anything out of their ordinary experience can be a threat.
And just how dangerous is the online environment for children? Anastasia Goodstein reports for PBS:
The biggest myth that has been perpetuated by well meaning law enforcement, Internet safety advocates, and the media is that the Internet is teeming with predators who are waiting for your child to post just enough information so they can find them and abduct them. In "Totally Wired," I relied on this stat: "Out of the 800,000 kids that are reported missing each year by the Justice Department, only 150 cases involve 'stereotypical kidnappings,' in which a child is taken by a stranger, held for ransom, or killed." Now there is new data from some of the lead researchers in the field that is putting online stranger-danger in even more perspective and clarifying who is really at risk.
Take the time to read Just the Facts About Online Youth Victimization where researchers present the facts and debunk myths. A little common sense and proper parenting, folks, and stop allowing television talking heads and hysterical law enforcement investigators to ruin the lives of your children.


Anonymous said...

It's sad how society has lost the plot so much. There are teenagers being charged under the Child Sex Crimes Act for taking a photo of themselves semi-naked or naked then sending it to a boy/girlfriend.

The way we're going, we'll see teenagers being charged for underage sex with another teenager.

Anonymous said...

There are people out there using the internet to lure teenage girls into prostitution. I know of one case in which the FBI is invovled and another where the perpetrator is doing time in state prison. I am not connected to law enforcement in any way, just to the victims.