Jesse Brown: Kids have nothing to fear but kids themselves

By Jesse Brown, CBC technology columnist.


Anyone who watches Degrassi: The Next Generation or NBC’s To Catch a Predator knows that the internet is teeming with sexual predators eager to lure kiddies away through IM chats into unspeakable real world situations.

With this persistent menace in mind, 49 U.S. state attorneys general created an expansive task force to study the problem of online solicitation of minors and to recommend safety measures.

Their finding: There is no problem.

Not a significant one at least, in which kids are being targeted and lured by adult strangers. It happens - but very, very rarely. In reality, pedophiles are much more likely to be lured themselves by cops masquerading online as kids in sting operations.

Nevertheless, the study found that widespread sexual harassment, sexual abuse and sexual solicitation of minors does occur - but that it’s far more likely to come from other kids than from predatory adults.

Another shockingly unshocking finding is that age verification technology doesn’t really work.

On the next Search Engine, I'll talk with Stephen Balkam, CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute, who sat on the US task force. Balkam thinks shows like To Catch a Predator have created an unmerited "moral panic" among parents, and distracted us from the real issues at hand.