Online sexual predators on the rise, U.S. officials say
MySpace has found more than 29,000 registered sex offenders on its site as of July— four times its original estimate, according to a statement released Tuesday by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.
Cooper said that the 29,000 registered sex offenders "includes just the predators who signed up using their real names, and not the ones who failed to register or used fake names, or who haven't been convicted."
The statement also said that a review of media reports for the first half of 2007 found more than 100 criminal incidents involving adults who used MySpace.
Cooperis pushing for U.S. legislation that would require parental consent for children trying to create social networking profiles, as well as the site having to verify a parent's identity.
Social networking site MySpace began sharing information in May after severalstate attorneys general submitted requests.
MySpace is a unit of Fox Interactive Media Inc. with localized communities in 18 countries. It cites data from Forrester Research Inc. saying that 80 per cent of 12-17 year olds use MySpace at least once a week.
Ontario-basedonlinesafety expertRob Nickeltold CBC Newsthat Canadian children likely haveinternet surfing habits similar to those of theirU.S. counterparts.
Canadian parents worry about internet safety: study
According to a study conducted by survey research firm Ipsos Reid,77 per cent of Canadian parents with children aged 12 to 17 are worried that their kids could come across sexual predators online.
The study released Wednesday was conducted on behalf of Symantec at the end of May. It did an online survey of 1093 adults across Canada who had at least one child aged 12 to 17.
About two-thirds of the parents interviewed worried about their children encountering pornographic websites. Well over half of those surveyed were also concerned about fraudulent scams, inappropriate language and cyber-bullying.
Over 60 per cent of the parents said they visit the same websites as their children. About the same number also said they use their internet browser's history function on an ongoing basis.
"In the event that their child has been a victim of any sort of negative experience while on the internet, only half (53%) of Canadian parents know who to contact should this experience occur," said Ipsos Reid in a release.
Nickel told CBC News thatfor both Canada and the U.S., internet sites are not reliable in filtering out potentially-dangerous content or people, and thata parent's best defence is to install specialized software that automatically filters out suspicious sites.
"Instead of worrying about legislation, it's about getting the parents involved. US parents seem to take it (suspicious sites) more seriously. Canadians don't think it is as much of a problem," Nickel added.