jackofallgeeks: (Wrath)
[personal profile] jackofallgeeks
So one of the things that I get on a soapbox about is the fact that the
Internet is not particularly dangerous for kids. Mostly this is an
extention of my belief that too many people are over-protective of kids, to
the children's detriment, and that kids will surprise you with what they're
able to deal with and accomplish if you give them a chance. Even aside from
that, though, the worst thing that can happen to a kid online is that
they learn something they'd be better off not knowing (or something you, the
parent, would rather they not know). You can't be kidnapped, abused,
injured, or anything else online; you have to actually leave the
house to do that (or at least open the door).

Anyways, there's an article
on Slashdot
today talking about how the Attorneys General of 49 states
set out to 'solve' the problem of sexual solicitation of minors online, but
instead found that the Internet is made up of mostly good people who are
there for the right reasons. They said that child-on-child bullying is a
more troubling problem, though I'd personally disagree with that (and note
also that bullying isn't as dangerous online as in the real world, where the
other kid can hit you).

There was a short thread in the comments, though, that I found both
compelling and disheartening, in part because I can attest to the same
fears. Someone mentioned that in Tokyo, little kids ride the subway all the
time, and when they appear to become distressed or confused, multiple
adults
will step forward to offer assistance. I can't attest to that
personally (never been to Japan) and I'll note that their culture is
distinctly different from ours -- but that's the point. The thread
was started by a guy replying that, as an American male, his first impulse
when a child in public is distressed is to get away from the area,
and very specifically not offer assistance to the child. In America,
men (especially, if not exclusively) are not allowed to offer
assistance to children under the assumption that if they did it would surely
make them suspect of being deviant. There's an annecdote about a man who
offered a ride to a girl who was walking to the bus stop in the rain; when
she declined, he just left, but when she told someone later that someone
became concered and decided the man needed to be identified and questioned
by police. And while I can understand the concern, it seems ridiculous that
we've gotten to a such a point where offering assistance is
suspicious.
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John Noble

August 2012

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