The next time someone starts telling you how important it is to "protect kids from online predators," send them to this record of the DC Internet Caucus panel on kids and predation, wherein quantitative social scientists describe the real situation with predators and kids. Kids do get preyed upon, but not in the way that it's depicted in the media, and none of the cell-phone-tracking, spyware-installing fear-based parenting does squat to protect them. If you want to keep your kids safe, you need to know what you're keeping them safe from.
But actually, the research in the cases that we've gleaned from
actual law enforcement files, for example, suggests a different
reality for these crimes. So first fact is that the predominant online
sex crime victims are not young children. They are teenagers.
There's almost no victims in the sample that we collected from – a
representative sample of law enforcement cases that involved the
child under the age of 13.
In the predominant sex crime scenario, doesn't involve violence,
stranger molesters posing online as other children in order to set up
an abduction or assault. Only five percent of these cases actually
involved violence. Only three percent involved an abduction. It's
also interesting that deception does not seem to be a major factor.
Only five percent of the offenders concealed the fact that they were
adults from their victims. Eighty percent were quite explicit about
their sexual intentions with the youth that they were communicating
So these are not mostly violence sex crimes, but they are criminal
seductions that take advantage of teenage, common teenage
vulnerabilities. The offenders lure teens after weeks of
conversations with them, they play on teens' desires for romance,
adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to
encounters that the teams know are sexual in nature with people who
are considerably older than themselves.