NYT studies paedophile chat rooms

This is a thorough yet slightly panicky report from the New York Times about online paedophile chat rooms and fora. We are told about the strange world of the paedophile support groups online, where participants exchange stories, fantasies, technology tips and discuss job offers. Some experts are called to give their opinion about the dangers of such sites, such as the fact that it reinforces their own twisted views that what they do is not illegal. They also share “paedophile propaganda” designed to ensnare children. They also discuss political activism and ways to change the status quo (apparently, there is a paedophile party in Holland).

The article is perhaps obviously explosive, and almost designed to send worried parents into paranoia. When describing the types of jobs that paedophiles hold, it listed children’s parties DJs; paediatric nurses; piano teachers; an employee at a water theme park and a paediatrician specializing in gynecology. But most worryingly, the paedophile’s preferred job seems to be teaching, while the most common method of accessing minors was through their own families.

While the article makes an excellent point about the power of reinforcement that online communities have, I must admit that this type of technophobe moral panic is a pet-peeve of mine. The story weaves both online and offline behaviours into a seamless continuum, always hinting that the problem has been exacerbated by the Internet. If one were to go by articles such as this, it would be logical to believe that the online world is teeming with criminals, crooks and perverts.

You’re better off staying at home and reading the Daily Mail.

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