Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why Are Children Different?

It is reported that a fourteen-year-old girl has been held in prison because the judge is concerned about her safety as a witness against two men who reportedly sexually molested her. (Read about it here.)

Why is it that kids are different? I find it hard to believe that an adult witness would be held in prison for two weeks at all, let alone without speeaking with a lawyer.

One of the accused molsters is free on bond. So he can go free (even though he is a reported child molester), but the victim must remain in prison. If the excuse is because it is for her own safety, then what about the other fourteen-year-old girls out there? They don't count?

If the reason for holding her is because she wont talk, then wouldn't it make more sense to go about it in a different way? Don't people get due process before losing their liberty? Why does this VICTIM get treated like a terrorist?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

MySpace Age Limits

I've written a few posts about the dangers of the Internet for youths -- both physically and legally.

On today there is an article about Massachusetts trying to get the age limit on MySpace bumped up from 14 to 18 (this is the article). It is not until the end of the article that the reality is presented that there is no actual way to check the age of an Internet user.

Even if MySpace officially ups its age limits, installs utilities so that inappropriate content can easily be removed, and ensures that the advertisements are age-appropriate for younger users, there is still no way to ensure that those under 18 will not use the site.

This responsibility falls on the parents. I think it unwise to simply block all "inappropriate" websites (especially when we're considering youths who are 14 and 15). MySpace is a perfect opportunity for children and parents to have an open dialog -- to discuss why and how to use the internet for social purposes.

Dateline has been running a series of shows in which they pose as youths online and then catch the predators who are physically showing up to meet them. It isn't just the predators who must be very involved with these plans, the youths also must make many specific steps to make those rendezvous happen.

I short, I think that regulating MySpace and cutting out these social networking tools from teenagers may help to curb some of the problem. It will not get at the deeper issues, however, and I fear that those cursory measures alone would still leave many youths vulnerable.