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Old 30th March 2010, 08:46 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Parents best filter against sex predators

Parents best filter against sex predators



IT IS understandable that parents want to deny sex predators any online scope to lure unsuspecting children, but they need to recognise the practical limitations. The technical difficulty that the Media Development Authority (MDA) has pointed out seems insurmountable, for now. Offenders know better than to set up sexual grooming sites that could invite surveillance and enforcement action. They often are lone wolves who lurk in popular chatrooms or forums, before pouncing on the unwary. They do not use incriminating words and phrases that could be programmed to trigger action.

Shutting down such sites would be an injustice to regular users who rely on them for legitimate communication and social networking. It would amount to regulatory overkill - forget it. Since 2008, the Penal Code has criminalised sexual grooming. Beyond acting on specific complaints and posting standard warnings against illegal use, hosts and service providers have few tools to detect depravity on what is a dynamic and heavily used medium. There is no suggestion that they are not doing all they can through self-regulation to curb the problem. They are, however, only one among many stakeholders that need to boost public awareness of the dangers that minors face when they go online.

Parents should take foremost responsibility for their children. If they are truly concerned for their welfare, they should supervise what their children do online. They should warn them to be careful when chatting with unfamiliar parties, like the time-honoured admonition from parents that they should not talk to strangers in the street. The responsibility essentially lies at home with the family. The new medium may have made it easier for predators to seek out prey, but coming-of-age considerations remain much the same. Youngsters are curious about sex at an even younger age. This means they need adult supervision more than ever.

Instead of suggesting that entire sites be banned, parents should have suspect sites filtered out. If the $3-a-month subscription discourages use of the Family Access Network filtering service, MDA should consider sponsoring the software licence for all. For those too busy or unfamiliar with the Internet to watch over their children, having the option is better than nothing. Assisted by filtering - which is also consistent with MDA's light-touch approach to regulation - as well as enforcement, penal deterrence, providers' vigilance and public awareness, parents should have a fair chance of attaining peace of mind.

Source: http://www.asiaone.com/News/Educatio...26-206923.html

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