NBC Dateline has hit a ratings goldmine (I assume) with this piece on catching online sexual predators. Basically Dateline sets up in a house and they lure sexual predators by having a “watch nanny” type organization initiate chats; using a woman to pretend to be a 13 year old girl or 12 year old boy. The offender makes plans to come over and when they do they have reporter Chris Hansen to answer to.
Surprisingly most sit down and have a chat; I guess they feel a reporter is some sort of authority figure. All of them are obviously much older men from all around. Some are “religious” and attend Church every Sunday. Some are blue collar, some white collar. Most of them white. Sometimes they come in and get naked. Sometimes they bring a lot of alcohol. All of them bring condoms. Hardly any admit their wrong; most of them come up with some excuse like they just “came over to talk.” Some have even seen the Dateline series yet they still come! What could be worse? One man must have been in his late 50’s, under the impression he was meeting a young boy; so he decided to bring along his own young son.
Of course outside the police are waiting for him to come back out.
The legal system does very little; we’re not looking at life imprisonment here, nothing close.
I’ve watched this series with a number of people over the last few months. The most common thing I hear is that Ã¢??American’s are sickÃ¢?Â; a hasty (and harsh) generalization of course, something similar to the assumption that all Arabs and Muslims are terrorists.
So yes there are many online predators out there but you know what, I don’t think the solution is to necessarily go around trying to find and catch them. This is only a small part of it. The problem seems to be parents and children.
Children (especially teenagers) feel like they’re grown up and can make grown up decisions; the Internet has become the first taste of freedom, like someone’s first car. I think that at certain ages they don’t know a thing about what’s going on, some do. And parents are of course oblivious to it all. Some of my own relatives living here in Toronto simply buy their kids computers and internet connections and let them do “their thing”. And of course “their thing” is studying; if they’re on the computer then they’re studying; 0.01% of the time they actually are. ThatÃ¢??s another thing that bothers me, kids who spend the majority of their day with their friends and then come home and spend the rest of the day chatting with them. But thatÃ¢??s not the main point here.
The Internet is double this planet; there’s twice the information, twice the obscenity, and twice the number of criminals in my opinion. So why don’t parents care to look after their kids’ Internet use as they would with them going out the front door. Parents constantly regulate the lives of their kids, so why not their virtual lives?
The technology is out there to help them do that, but how many parents use it?
The Internet can be a dangerous place and a dangerous tool sometimes without proper use.
I worry more about Jordan to tell you the truth. I don’t know if there are even cases out there of sexual predators. I mean there must be but information on Internet usage is completely absent in the Arab world other than how many people are connected. Moreover, investigative journalism is all but non-existent, so the likes of a Dateline type investigation being done are slim.
The Internet is all in all a new social experiment all over the world. All of us who are online, wherever that may be, are experiencing a new phenomena and the flaws in this system should be addressed and rectified everywhere. If the U.S. is taking the first hit then we should all follow suit at the very least. I don’t want to have to wait 20 years and find out well we had a problem and now it’s bigger and we don’t know what to do about it. We are talking about kids and sexual predators being in the same virtual room, chatting with each other, each with his or her own intentions.
Just my two cents.