Internet is full of bullies, not pedophiles

Slashdot submitter Kdawson has good news: " A high-profile task force representing 49 state attorneys general was organized to find a solution to the problem of online sexual solicitation. But instead the panel has issued a report (due to be released tomorrow) claiming that 'Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons.' The report concluded that 'the problem of child-on-child bullying, both online and offline, poses a far more serious challenge than the sexual solicitation of minors by adults.'"

Well, good news if you're worried about sexual predation on kids. Not so good if you're worried about bullying. But of course, now that we know that kids are more threatened by the (less-sexy, less-mediagenic) scourge of bullying than the (incredibly scary, totally mediagenic) risk of sexual predation, we'll divert funds and resources to the real risk, right?

Right?

The 278-page report, released Tuesday, was the result of a year of meetings between dozens of academics, experts in childhood safety and executives of 30 companies, including Yahoo, AOL, MySpace and Facebook.

The task force, led by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, looked at scientific data on online sexual predators and found that children and teenagers were unlikely to be propositioned by adults online. In the cases that do exist, the report said, teenagers are typically willing participants and are already at risk because of poor home environments, substance abuse or other problems.

Report Calls Online Threats to Children Overblown (via /.)

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  1. I first got network access in my first year in high school (eighth grade) so I’m just a few years too old to consider myself part of the generation that’s been raised “native” to the Internet, but I have only one thing to say about this:

    DUH.

    The kids’ll be all right. Just stop letting them grow up to be shitheads and thugs. Include community and respect in your values. Raise them to be more responsible and self-confident instead of letting them grow up as dull, ignorant fucks. They’ll gain the smarts and skills needed to rebuff the few Internet pervs on their own if you give them a solid foundation in civics.

  2. Also, being bullied will mess you up more than seeing a grainy cell phone image of somebody’s naughty bits online. But it doesn’t make for titillating news.

  3. Meanwhile, in Japan, online bullying has developed into an artform that results in suicide with some degree of regularity.

  4. Jeez, in the early 80s I used to dot-matrix printed centerfolds downloaded from BBSes to *escape* from bullying. Put that one in your pipe, Tipper.

  5. If they kill themselves, they were just weak and screwed up anyway, probably the parents fault for raising a screwed up insecure kid who can’t handle the real world. They never should have let her online. She would have killed herself anyway. Why can’t they just turn it off or walk away?

    At least that’s what some of the comments were concerning Megan Meier, who killed herself after bullying by another girls mother.

    Read a few comments posted at this ABC article. There were similar comments posted here at bb.

    Lori Drew may be a horrible person, but more importantly, if your kid takes “cyber-bullying” to heart, you epically fail as a parent. How could they not teach their kid to “just change the channel” like with television and radio?

    Bullying is not taken seriously in the real world or online; bullies are accepted as just a fact of life, and not as created and enabled misfits. It’s just kids being kids; you know how they can be. Instead of preventing a child from becoming a bully, which can ruin their life, the victims are told to toughen up.

    Check out this site, built by the parents of another child who also committed suicide after being bullied at school.

    http://www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org/

  6. bullying isn’t mediagenic in the US? you cats aren’t doing it right. The Australian media -loves- bullies.

  7. FoetusNail@5: Yeah, the argument that you can “just turn it off” is kind of annoying. It doesn’t matter whether the interaction’s happening online or offline, if the victim is emotionally invested in whatever the other person’s saying, they can be hurt by their words. And if it seems like your whole peer group is rejecting you, it can be hard to see the light in the world.

    The internet “isn’t real”, but then again neither is real life. They’re both just a set of perceptions, and emotion doesn’t discriminate between people who are “real” and people who are just pretending to be your friend or whatever.

  8. Ugly Canuck:
    Yeah – that’s certainly one legitimate way to look at it. And thus your other tread post about US torture (“We wish to know…”) really just boils down to “tell us who the bullies were”.

    Not that simple, sadly.

  9. Well it actually is that simple.
    The answer to the posed questions are all within Gov knowledge, and once the answers are known, the next steps may proceed.
    It is – simply – against Justice and the Law to strike a non-resisting prisoner. Under all circumstances. I care not what your screenwriters or other sadists have to say about it.
    You – the united States of America – shall need, at the minimum, some kind of “Truth Commission”. Prosecutions (with subsequent Pardons, perhaps) must take place, or else your better Citizens will have good reason to question their loyalty to their Government.
    Or is the USA now a State which Officially uses torture as a means? If the USA is a democracy, that means US Citizens must now feel torture is a-ok.
    What a great leader, what a great President this GWB was/is!

  10. Ugly Canuck
    Don’t get me wrong – I largely agree re US torture etc. But maybe in the longer/larger scheme of things Gaza is two bullies, albeit one of them much bigger and weightier than the other – hence not as simple as perhaps the attack on Gaza being just bullying writ large.

    It may be clear to some who the bully is but all bullies bully in response to something – often their own personal insecurity etc (and other psychobabble/chology – take your pick). Hence, two bullies. And both are driven by their own real or perceived insecurities. It aint ever likely to change until both are able to address that together. Until then? Just more of the sporadic same.

    Back to topic – everyone knows that no matter how well raised, all kids are mean to other kids at some time or other (and grown-ups are too) and the internet is just a neat source of opportunities to be mean.

    #1, #2, and #5 made most sense.

  11. This is terrible news if you’re worried about online sexual predators! Your worries have always been nonsense to begin with, and now there’s (more) proof of it! How are you going to pass freedom-annihilating surveillance and monitoring laws now? You’re going to have to work fast, getting as much done ‘for the children’ while you still can! Especially now that ‘Tubes’ Stevens is out of commission, your work is that much harder.

    Get moving!

  12. Thank God, I won’t ever again have to listen to Jamie Lee Curtis say the words “sexually solicited” on the radio!

  13. Oy!

    Lucky you didn’t spell it “oi“, you might have been accused of being an Anti-Israel skinhead.

    eep! Sorry!

  14. Bullying is largely not illegal, so spending money to stop it isn’t going to go anywhere. Plus, pedophiles are one thing, but I can’t see Chris Hansen having the guts to go after aggressive children. The kids would just knock him down and say, “So I’m a bully. What’re you gonna do about it, Hairpiece?”

  15. How completely expected. I don’t have enough digits to count the number of times or the different insults or threats I’ve gotten over the internet since my early teens but I’ve never once been solicited sexually since then. Conclusion: most people are jerks, only a few are pedos.

  16. Anonymous @1:

    The kids’ll be all right. Just stop letting them grow up to be shitheads and thugs. Include community and respect in your values. Raise them to be more responsible and self-confident instead of letting them grow up as dull, ignorant fucks. They’ll gain the smarts and skills needed to rebuff the few Internet pervs on their own if you give them a solid foundation in civics.

    Mind if I work that as a sampler and hang it on the wall in the moderators’ lounge?

    Closetpacifist @8:

    The argument that you can “just turn it off” is kind of annoying. It doesn’t matter whether the interaction’s happening online or offline, if the victim is emotionally invested in whatever the other person’s saying, they can be hurt by their words.

    That quote, too.

    I want to put an end to the idea that bullying is the necessary price we pay for allowing strong speech and the clash of ideas.

    Sean Grimm @23:

    How completely expected. I don’t have enough digits to count the number of times or the different insults or threats I’ve gotten over the internet since my early teens but I’ve never once been solicited sexually since then. Conclusion: most people are jerks, only a few are pedos.

    There are probably more pedophiles than you think, since we don’t hear about the ones who cope with their kinks in a responsible fashion.

    I also believe there are far fewer hardcore jerks than you imagine. A small number of people will be jerks no matter what. A larger number will always be inclined to be jerks, but will keep it under control if it incurs social penalties. A much larger number are situationally capable of acting like jerks, but won’t if other people aren’t doing it.

    Finally, if we keep down the incidence of bad behavior, we can start to get back all the people who’ve been refusing to participate in public forums because they’re tired of dealing with online jerks.

    At that point, I believe it’ll be clear how small the population of hardcore jerks really is.

    Takuan @24:

    So what we really needed all along was a BullyFinder General.

    Yes! Among other things.

  17. Man do I ever loathe bullying…and the typical soporific response to it from those who should be preventing it.

    Bullying made virtually all of my compulsory schooling and teenage years, a misery. My adulthood, on the other hand, has been and continues to be awesome, which is nice :)

    I doubt I’ll ever be able to rid myself of the residual anger and hatred for the bullies whose abuse I suffered – though it’s not something that’s usually on my mind, apart from the occasional pleasant moment of schadenfreude at the rare times when I run into those people again and see what shitty lives they have. Very gratifying.

    Much stronger than the remnants of those feelings, though, is my adult contempt for the teachers, parents, and other figures who turned a blind eye, shrugged off or played down what I was going through, or otherwise had their thumbs planted firmly up their arses.

    I shudder to think of the possibilities for cruelty presented by the internet, and my heart goes out to the victims of any kind of bullying.

  18. @Teresa

    #1 here (check my IP). You’ve my permission to do anything you want with that without further consultation. Consider that comment released into the public domain.

    I suppose I should register…

  19. @25

    I definitely think the online jerk population is situational. Sort of like the Stanford Prison Experiment, the ones with the power or mindsets settle into the abuse while weaker people join in so they don’t get abused themselves. How to fix that, I don’t have a clue.

    “There are probably more pedophiles than you think, since we don’t hear about the ones who cope with their kinks in a responsible fashion.”
    (how do you do those big red quotes anyway?)

    Maybe it is just semantics but what is ‘responsible fashion’ and ‘pedophile’ meant to mean exactly? What I mean is, Japan has a load of pornographic comics that most Americans would see as pedophilia but is the market for those comics strictly pedophiles, simply perverts, or a class of yet-to-offend pedophile? I don’t think anyone’s sexual kinks can be easily categorized. For instance Alan Moore wrote a pornographic comic that included depictions of underage sex and incest, what does that make him and all those that bought the book?

    That said, I hold no support for convicted pedophiles or child abusers. They deserve what is coming.

  20. Linguistically speaking, a pedo-phile is someone who “loves” -phile “children” pedo-

    Just as a bibliophile loves books: however the common definition is someone who feels a sexual attraction to children. It does not refer, however, to that person’s behaviour — only to their emotions.

    People can choose to remain celibate, like nuns for example.

  21. “Linguistically speaking, a pedo-phile is someone who “loves” -phile “children” pedo”

    The same can be said for autogynophile. It means “someone who loves herself as a woman”. But it’s only used perojatively because that’s what the most common usage is, and the only academic usage.

    So a pedophile, by law, is someone who *acts* on those emotions, and breaks the law.

    An autogynophile, by academia definition (although never proven to be true) is a man who is so turned on by the idea of being female that he gets a sex change.

    This last theory is empty of much meaning, and derives from junk science, neither correlation or causation has been proven, or the contention that it is inherently “a bad thing”. It still is used perojatively.

    The same can be said for certain psychiatric diagnostics:

    Take Transvestic Fetichism:

    Not merely a man who dresses as a woman, but someone who does so “to get off” sexually, and for whom it causes significant impairment in social and other areas of life. Basically, someone who seeks treatment about it.

    The act of cross-dressing itself it not in the DSM. The mere thought that someone would want to cross-dress, even less.

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