Mahwah, NJ Police Chief James Batelli is telling parents they need to steal their kid’s Facebook password. As he did the last time some terribly misinformed local politician got hysterical about invading youth privacy, NYRA President Jeffrey Nadel will be going on CNN’s Headline News to bring reason, common sense and actual facts into the debate. As is typically the case, those advocating infringing upon the rights of youth are lacking in all three. For example, this is a quote from Chief Batelli:
“Read the paper any day of the week and you’ll see an abduction [or] a sexual assault that’s the result of an Internet interaction or a Facebook comment.”
Anyone with experience with Facebook, young people or common sense knows this to be flatly false. In fact, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, only about 115 children are kidnapped every year. Most of them have nothing to do with “an Internet interaction or a Facebook comment.”
Sexual solicitations of minors online are extremely rare. Only 4% of youth have been asked via the Internet to meet offline for a sexual encounter. The vast majority of those (91-96%) are by people close to their own age. Only 4-9% of these are from people over 21.
Not only is this a very small problem that occurs infrequently, the fact is that young people are pretty damn smart and pretty damn capable of protecting themselves. If some pervert is making unwanted advances on you online it is extremely easy to block them or ignore them. It is much easier to do online than out in the real world. In fact according to the Enhancing Child Safety & Online Technologies study, 92% of youth respond appropriately when solicited online. 92%.
One appropriate way youth respond when faced with a creepy guy online is to tell their parents. In fact, 42% of youth who had a distressing online encounter that made them feel very or extremely upset or afraid told their parents or guardians. Spying on your kids and hacking their Facebook does not strengthen that bond of trust, it destroys it. It makes the relationship one based on suspicion and threats, not trust and open dialogue. The goal of parents should be to boost that 42% number.
The experts all agree. Both Facebook and Common Sense Media recommend that parents involve themselves in giving their kids tools to protect themselves online – not ban them from the Internet, hack their account or otherwise invade their privacy. Such heavy handed methods do not build trust in the home and do NOT keep your children safe.
So watch NYRA President Jeffrey Nadel make this case on CNN’s Headline News today at 6:30 PM EST. If you want to call in, the number for the show is: 1-877-TELL-HLN (877-835-5456).
You can also post to the Prime News facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Prime-News/93710322266
Or send an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Twitterers can check out: @VinniePolitan
Lastly, you can reach Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli and tell him to stop telling lies about Internet safety and giving parents bad advice by calling 201.529.1000 Ext 200 or emailing email@example.com.