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General News

Online Predators Not Distinctively Dangerous Sex Offenders

A new University of New Hampshire study challenges the view that online predators are a distinctly dangerous variety of sex offender, requiring special programs to protect youth. 

The study from the UNH Crimes against Children Research Center finds that sex offenders who target teens increasingly use Internet and cell phone communications to lure teens into sexual relationships. In crimes that involve such communications, offenders who meet and recruit youth online operate in much the same way as offenders who meet and know youth in ordinary offline environments. Full Article

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I am having a Dictionary kind of day (see my post on ‘General Comments August).

Whatever happened to the word “Predator”? The dictionary defines “Predator” as

pred·a·tor [pred-uh-ter, -tawr], noun
1. Zoology . any organism that exists by preying upon other organisms.
2. a predatory person

For me, before coming involved in this subject, images of “Predator” conjured up images from a National Geographic show, like a cheetah chasing a hapless antelope on the Serengeti and pouncing on it in a cloud of dust, death and destruction. Or a Great White Shark ripping an unfortunate Elephant Seal to shreds.

Looking at some of the most destructive mass killings (VTech, Columbine, Arizona / G. Giffords) – the word “Predator” barely registers. Google them. And more. These people extinguished multiple lives, between 6 and 33. If they are not predators by definition, who is?

When did it happen that a guy having an inappropriate or off-color conversation (a collection of binary ones and zeroes, after all) via electronic means with a person under 18 years of age (real or imaginary) is called a “Predator”? And no one questions it?

When? What? How?

It’s a dog whistle term to gin up fear in the masses and nothing more. Notice how the media recently started using the term “convicted“ sex offender? As if you could be one without being convicted. It’s the politics of fear.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x