Clear-eyed look at Net risks

Rarely do we see balanced reporting on the subject of children's online safety. So it was good to see USATODAY's Janet Kornblum looking at both the real risks and the misconceptions that have developed about how teens are victimized online. Not that dangers don't exist, but "some worry that parents are falling victim to 'predator panic' and overreacting to unlikely dangers, unintentionally turning children off to safety messages altogether," she reports. She also cites the view from the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. The Center's director, David Finkelhor, told her that – contrary to impressions from news outlets such as NBC Dateline – "overall sex crimes against children are down, with the notable exception of child pornography. Sexual abuse cases were down 51% from 1990 to 2005," and the vast majority of those involve abusers the victims know in real life. For more from Dr. Finkelhor, see "Profile of a teen online victim." [For other articles along these lines, see "Social-networking dangers in perspective" and "Abduction by online predators rare."]

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