On the other hand, we interview child predators as well, and pedophiles, they tell us the exact opposite.
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These children have not developed a mental capacity to match wits with a 40-year-old adult who's been doing this for the last 15 years, targeting children online. I had no idea that my child was a member of this social networking site or had this screen name or had this profile." They just don't know. We interview teenage victims; we interview teenage non-victims.
The non-victims, again, are very savvy to the safety issues of the Internet. they view it as a violation of their rights for the parents to be standing over their shoulder or to monitor their use or to have their passwords.
They're participants, they're driving this space, and the research also shows that the kids who are most at risk online ...
are kids who are showing aggressive behavior themselves.
And so this is very different from the impression that you might get from the images in the media about this problem. I don't think it also conveyed the fact that most kids are really handling these solicitations quite responsibly and not responding, and that they're not all that affected by them, either; that they regard them as litter on their information superhighway and just kind of blow them off.
When I talk these days, I like to emphasize the statistic of one in 20 of youth encountering what we call an "aggressive sexual solicitation" -- that is, one that really threatened to go offline, where somebody made an effort to contact them or meet them -- and those seem to me to be the more serious of the group.] The figures, as far as I'm aware of them, indicate probably 83 percent of child victims go willingly with the subject, with the predator. They're not making intelligent, knowing decisions to go with these people. And they'll catalog them, and they'll look on Web sites.But again the ages of these victims are anywhere from 13 to 15, 16 years old. They have all the time in the world; they'll spend all night. That's all they do; it's their full-time job is to find children on the Internet. [How can you communicate the risk to parents without causing hysteria? I'm surprised at the number of times I go to give school presentations or parent group presentations when the parents say, "I didn't know that; I had no idea that you could check the history of their online usage.] The one-in-five number certainly did sensitize people to the fact that kids are getting a lot of unwanted solicitations.But I don't think what got adequately publicized was not all of these are hardened Internet predators who are making the solicitations.The teenagers generally know or find out fairly quickly that they are talking to an adult who is interested in sex, but they continue the conversation.