Predator campaign top priority for Fla.

News Press (Florida) Editorial Originally posted on January 05, 2008 THE LAW Here are some features of the state's new Cyber Crimes Against Children law:
• 15-year maximum sentence for contacting a child online and attempting to meet the child for sexual purposes

• Increases from five to 15 years the prison term for possession of more than 10 images of child pornography, and from 15 to 30 years for promotion and distribution of such materials

• New penalties for offenders who misrepresent their ages online

• Requires sex offenders to register all e-mail addresses and instant-message names they use, so social-network sites can block them

The Internet is a marvel for young people, with the potential for vastly enhancing their education and general mental fitness — but it's a jungle out there in cyberspace.
Young people online are terribly vulnerable to sexual predators. [Ed: "Cyberspace" is without "space". If one confines oneself to "cyberspace" then one need never worry that a hand (or other body part) will reach through the computer monitor and grab you or your children. The same anonymity which you so greatly fear when enjoyed by a "predator" also affords you a vast physical remove from the physical world, a "moat" which surrounds you and your computer. As long as you don't foolishly divulge important personal information, then your children will be utterly safe. This is the only real knowledge you, or your children, need as protection within "cyberspace". Teach them that, like credit card numbers, personal information, physical address, future locations, etc. are all to be kept confidential. This is your responsibility as a caregiver to your children. It is not society's responsibility to constrain the rights of other children or adults as a means of circumventing all risks or remotely conceivable dangers. Soon, requiring sex offenders to surrender their rights to utilize the internet in their daily lives will seem as ridiculous as forbidding them to use a telephone or take a bus. If those possibilities do not seem absurd to you, then you are on the hysterical side of the divide.]

They must be aggressively educated about the dangers, and monitored by savvy, vigilant parents (and teachers and librarians, too).
The other half of the campaign is law enforcement, and in that regard we are happy to see that Florida has torqued up its efforts to catch and punish these villains. At the urging of Attorney General Bill McCollum, the 2007 Legislature increased his cyber-predator unit from six to 56 positions and opened new offices in several cities. It's going to be very important to see that the funding isn't rescinded in the impending state budget crunch. The cyber-pervert campaign is one of those core public safety government functions that has to be shielded from budget-cutting. It has to have top priority. That's because Internet access is becoming a universal part of young people's experience in America, and because tech savvy does not necessarily equal real sophistication. Many young teens are emotionally vulnerable, innocent or foolish. It's one of several downsides to the Internet, including invasion of privacy, identity theft and and child pornography — all of which McCollum is also eager to tackle, to his great credit. The blatant, compulsive nature of sexual predation online makes it crucial to raise the stakes. The new law, for example, provides a 15-year maximum sentence for contacting a child online and attempting to meet the child for sexual purposes. Given the tough penalties and the widespread publicity given to sting operations, one might think predators would be pulling back. One would be very wrong. This is going to be a permanent war over the safety of our children. At last we're starting to fight back hard.
[Ed:These people always like to portray themselves as a disadvantaged group having long-suffered at the hands of "liberal" judges and "lenient" laws and exhorting others to join them in "fighting back". The truth, however, is that we now live in the most punitive society of all, with a greater percentage of our citizens incarcerated than any other country on Earth (except possibly for North Korea). As for society being soft on "molesters" we have the most draconian laws with the longest prison sentences of any working democracy. And now we're supposed to "start getting tough?" I think it's time to demand our lost liberties from hysterical fear-mongers like you] Full Story

1 comment:

F said...

15 years for possession of pictures is insane. It's almost beyond belief. Most americans have lost all ability to view this debate rationally. The cry for more punishment, longer sentences, and harsher restrictions seems to have no limit when it comes to sex offenses. The fact that this is unrelated to any increased criminal activity goes unnoticed. In a sad, sociological way, it's interesting to see how easy it is to start witchhunts even in this "modern" age.

Thanks for your blog. Interesting reading.