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Thursday, April 3, 2014

How we were fooled into thinking that sexual predators lurk everywhere

By Dana Boyd
From It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens
Published by Yale University Press

Here are two excerpts:

As moral panics about child safety take hold, politicians feel that they should take action—or at least capitalize on the appearance of doing so. They regularly campaign over safety issues and implement or expand laws targeted at curtailing the freedoms of minors. In the 1980s and 1990s, this included curfew laws, anti-loitering laws, and truancy laws. To expunge teens from public places, cities and towns limited where, when, and for how long teens could gather or hang out in public places. Many believed that curfew laws would combat crime; a 1997 survey of US mayors found that 88 percent believed that youth curfews reduced crime. It did not. As researchers began to examine the effects of these laws, they found that there was no correlation between curfews and youth crime. After analyzing the data, sociologist Michael Males concluded that authority figures use curfews more as a symbol of social control than an actual crime deterrent.


Through social media, teenagers have created digital streets that help define the networked publics in which they gather. In an effort to address online safety concerns, most adults respond by trying to quarantine youth from adults, limit teens’ engagement online, or track teens’ every move. Rhetoric surrounding online predation is used to drum up fear and justify isolation. But neither restrictions nor either adult or institutional surveillance will help those who are seriously struggling.

The entire chapter is here.

Thanks to Gary Schoener for this information.

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