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Friday, January 07, 2011

Online Sexual Solicitation of Children

Some group is running an ad claiming that "one-in-five children have been sexually solicited online."

Well, a moment's thought convinced me that this figure must be nonsense. One-in-five children? First of all, just who qualifies as a "child"? Perhaps humans between 2 and 16? Now, you can't be solicited just looking up something on National Geographic Kids. You need an account of some sort. And how many kids under, say, 10 have such an account? So that knocks out half the sample right there. And that puts us at 40% between 11 and 16. Sounding pretty unlikely, huh?

So, I looked it up, and guess what? The survey this statistic comes from does not support what the statistic apparently says at all. First of all, the survey was of 10 to 17 year-olds... and that leaves out an awful lot of children, hey? Secondly, they did not exclude solicitation of sex by other children. (Of course, the advertisement never says it means only by adults, but I think most people would assume this.)

So what this survey basically shows us is that a bunch of 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds try to pick each other up online.

There certainly are adult perverts trolling the Internet, and that certainly is awful. But that doesn't make it OK to terrify a bunch of parents by grossly exaggerating the extent of the problem.

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