Should Sex Offenders Be Banned From Social Networking?
A new Illinois law bans sex offenders from all social networking sites. But will it make children safer? ConnectSafely's Larry Magid thinks not.
The just-signed Illinois law banning sex offenders from social-networking sites might seem like a good idea to protect children, but it will have virtually no impact on their safety and could wind up making things worse.
The law, which was signed Thursday by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, would prevent registered sex offenders in Illinois from using a social-networking service defined as an "Internet Web site containing profile Web pages...that include the names or nicknames of such members, photographs...or any other personal or personally identifying information."
The definition also includes "the ability to leave messages or comments on the profile Web page that are visible to all or some visitors to the profile Web page," which might be interpreted to include news sites, including CNET News, that allow visitors to register and leave comments.
But let's start with the problem the law is trying to solve. It's aimed at adults who troll the Web in search of children to sexually exploit. While such people do exist, they are rarely successful in harming youth whom they meet through the Internet. Every peer-reviewed study conducted by the Crimes Against Children Research Center and other scholarly organizations, as well as the report of Internet Safety Technical Task Force, has concluded that the risk of online predators is greatly exaggerated.
I'm not aware of any cases of a predator harming a prepubescent child whom he met on the Internet, and there are very few publicly known cases of sexual contact between a teenager and an adult they met online. In those few cases where contact has occurred, it is often because the teenager was aggressively seeking the contact and where the teen was also engaged in offline risky behavior. These cases are typically between a teenage girl and young adult male between 18 and 25.
Law enforcement officials and politicians will point to plenty of Internet predator cases, but the overwhelming majority are either sting operations, in which no child was harmed, or child pornography cases which, while horrendous, are not addressed by this law.
Add your own comment
Today on Education.com
WORKBOOKSMay Workbooks are Here!
WE'VE GOT A GREAT ROUND-UP OF ACTIVITIES PERFECT FOR LONG WEEKENDS, STAYCATIONS, VACATIONS ... OR JUST SOME GOOD OLD-FASHIONED FUN!Get Outside! 10 Playful Activities
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Test Problems: Seven Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Not Working
- Bullying in Schools
- A Teacher's Guide to Differentiating Instruction
- First Grade Sight Words List