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Unfortunately, 0 is not a number that extrapolates well to estimate how many of the United States's 70 million children will be physically victimized with help from the internet.But if I understand the numbers, it seems the internet is not the most likely source of danger.The best numbers I found were from a phone survey of 1,501 children, ages 10 to 17, who used the internet regularly.Of them, 19% had "received an unwanted sexual solicitation" (imprecisely defined) but only 3% had been solicited with "attempts or requests for offline contact" or actual offline contact.And precisely 0 of the 1,501 children said they had been sexually contacted or assaulted due to online solicitations.This seems significant to me, given that 21% of all children -- statistically, hundreds of the children in the phone survey -- are sexually abused (by some definition of the term) before age 18.The witnesses were Katie Tarbox, who in 1995, at age 13, had been inadequately briefed on the "rules of the net" and disasterously agreed to meet a child predator she'd chatted with online; two local law enforcement personnel, John Karraker and Jim Gregart; Ruben Rodriguez, the Director of the Exploited Child Unit for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; Caroline Curtin, the Director of Children's Policy for AOL; and Kathleen Tucker, the Director of Curriculum Development for I-Safe America.Everyone was concerned about keeping children safe online.
If the topic of internet chat comes up in school, teachers will almost always preach about safety and weirdos and such.I do not see chatting on-line as being dangerous, or otherwise harmful.Sure you always hear those stories about 12 year old girls chatting with 45 year old men, but I see online chatting as a way for people with similar interests to discuss and debate interesting topics. I strongly believe that if you chat online with people that you do not know personally, you should figure out what this person is really like, and if you can trust them or not.All six witnesses said, using almost the same words, that there is no substitute for parental involvement.Three called for more money and training for law enforcement, to give existing laws teeth. Our local prosecutor suggested mandated inclusion of a CD with every new computer sale, which would explain how to keep children safe online.
One student reported: If kids know not to give out their personal information, and what could happen if they do, then there is really no danger.