Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Critique on "Perverted Justice"

Here are the facts concerning child sex abuse that vigilante group "Perverted Justice" doesn't want you to know or think about, so they can continue to sell their war on the smallest percent of child sex abuse cases and force society to look the other way on the more likely scenarios of child sexual abuse:


(1) Child sex crimes are rare.
(2) 50% of sex crimes are committed by relatives
(3) 40% of sex crimes are committed by family friends, neighbors, and careworkers
(4) that leaves 10% of sex crimes (against children) to be committed by acquaintances
(5) In fact, about 3% of child sex crimes prominently feature the internet.
(b) child sex criminals are not very likely to have a criminal record. About 10%, give or take, have a criminal record.


(1) that's equally true for online and offline sex criminals
(2) about 10%, possibly up to 25%, reoffend sexually at some point in the future
(3) Of online sex criminals, a very small proportion have a record for child sex crimes (4%).
(4) sex criminals are more likely than the general population to commit nonsexual offenses... about 20-40% do.
(5) these numbers are for child sex criminals incarcerated in prisons
(6) about 65% of all criminals reoffend, making child sex criminals about par for the course, although slightly lower by most estimates but more likely to reoffend sexually against children
(7) Child sex criminals with a previous criminal record for child sex crimes reoffend against children sexually about 52% of the time.
(8) that's also more or less expected. People with a prior record are at much greater risk than people without for all crimes (remember only 10% of online sex criminals have criminal records).
(9) Sex abuse has declined about 50% in the last 15 years, and paranoia has been on the rise


Of the 3% of child sex crimes involving the internet, about 1/3rd involve a police sting, 1/3rd involve a real minor forming a relationship, and 1/3rd involve only pornography


There is no significant level of online victimization of children under 12 years old. About 0.01% of online victimizations involved children age 12, the rest were older. However, most arrests involved children around 13-15 years old. Studies seem to imply that the danger of online victimization are highly overstated.

Probably there are significant numbers of 16 and 17 year olds who initiate relationships with adults via the internet that result in very few prosecutions. Meanwhile, the arrests for child sexual victimization via luring probably pretty accurately reflect about a tenth of actual such victimizations (of children 13-15, just given the average rate of enforcement of crimes).

Yet the threat of "child predators online" coming after your "children" is made to be the most dire threat to our children...even to the point where kids and parents have to forfeit rights, and a kids have been taken away from homes based on the fact that their internet activity wasn't supervised.

And all for what? The typical Perverted Justice sting is set up to look like something that happens fewer than 1% of the time in reality. The paranoia just does not mirror reality.


There are about 75 million children in the country and about 80,000 substantiated reports of child sexual abuse in the country. Assuming that about 10% of actual cases are caught, that implies about 800,000, which is about 1% of 75 million. It's actually slightly more than 1% and would give a rate of about 17.5% children being sexually abused.

By the same token, about 0.2% of children are sexually 'victimized' via the internet, not counting child porn cases or stings. That would make about 144,000 adults who were sexually 'victimized' via the internet, assuming the rate hasn't gone up in the last 18 years, which I am sure it has.

Given the estimate of 500 complaints a year, that makes 9,000 complaints every 18 years, that is comparable to 14,000 reports every 18 years.

The point is... just that, no matter how you cut it, it seems that internet sex crimes get far too much publicity and funding relative to their actual impact while familial sex crimes, which account for almost 50 times as many victims, are under reported.


There are a significant number of sex crimes involving children under 14... they're probably even less likely to involve a stranger or acquaintance. But when you hear about Perverted Justice... the kinds of offenses they're preventing are (1)possession of child pornography and (2) adults having consensual sex with 16 or 17 year olds... because that is how almost all online 'victimizations' actually end up.

People who hook up with children online are pathetic, lonely losers. No one is standing up for them, but they only seem to represent fewer than 1% of child sex abuse cases.

Stranger abductions involving sexual motives are even more rare than internet meetings for sex, although there was a case of a clear abduction resulting from the internet. There's no evidence that young children (below 13) are being lured into sexual contact via the internet (although there is evidence that people make attempts). However, all these Perverted Justice stings conclude with this statistically rare phenomenon going on: the adult actually meeting with the child for sex.

Perverted justice and similar sting projects focus on imitating 13 and 14 year olds. And when they respond positively, they get talked up more. How many actual 13 or 14 year olds are actually out there getting into similar situations? Statistically few. So these men are unlikely to succeed without running into a fake child.

A lot of adults that meet youth online do lie about their age. Often they'll claim to be 35 years old when they are 45 years old or 25 years old when they are 30 years old. Almost all youth who get involved with adults are lonely and have problems socializing with peers. A disproportionate number are confused about their sexuality.

Here's a report on these findings:


Of course, in onepaper they admit, "Internet sex crimes involving adults and juveniles more often fit a model of statutory rape – adult offenders who meet, develop relationships with, and openly seduce underage teenagers -- than a model of forcible sexual assault or pedophilic child molesting."

Basically, as part of their conclusions for how to prevent online sexual relationships, they recommend that parents talk to their kids about sex, starting at age 13. Which is the simple and reasonable solution, but ultimately the only one that's not profitable.

Given this reasoning... why else would Perverted Justice (who refuse to disclose their profits from the participation in these stings...upwards of 10,000 USD) be turning such a minor statistical issue into an object of mass paranoia, to the point where it serves to cripple children by limiting their rights and subjecting them to unnecessary supervision practices?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

My Symbol of the Youth Movement

Here's my design for a potential symbol for the Youth Movement--a skewed Mobius Strip design of any color, one circle being physically larger than the other, but both being equal in the width of their outlines. The idea is that they are interconnected, the young and the old--one can not exist without the guidance and teaching of the other--one circle is no more important to completing the strip than the other. Any action or policy done that serves to seperate one from the other causes the destruction of all.

In one direction along the strip, the young takes in part of the larger circle--the experience and wisdom gained by time--and in the other direction lends part of itself to help complete the larger one--the ideas and insight of a new perspective. Anything other than this cycle of give and take between the old and young is destructive. Let both the young and the old share in the world as we know it.

The idea is that it ought to be simple enough to draw in the sand, a simple design that can easily be reproduced on pins, flags, can be instantly recognizable, and easily drawn by hand and reproduced over and over and by all people, even young children.

(If you like it, feel free to distribute it far and wide to promote youth empowerment, youth rights, anti-ageism, anti adult-centrism, or anything else dealing with youth and children)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Scarlet Letter "DCV" (Dress Code Violator )

You won't believe this. Coming just hours after the last major reporting of a school dress violator comes another even more disturbing story. This time about a high school student who was made to wear a ridiculous rag that said "DCV: Dress Code Violator" after being forced to remove his patriotic tee-shirt because of an asinine school policy.

Then to make it worse, the school tried to silence his protest with the media. School dress violations are becoming a popular way to ignite students against their inferior taskmasters these days.

Officials at the Merced County school confirmed Thursday that Jake Shelly was forced to take off a red, white and blue tie-dyed American flag T-shirt on Tuesday. The shirt said nothing offensive, just: “United States of America, Washington, D.C.” The school’s assistant principal issued Shelly a bright yellow T-shirt that read “DCV: Dress Code Violator” to wear for the rest of the day. He was given his shirt back after classes ended.

“It was really embarrassing and humiliating to have to wear that all day — and just for supporting your country,” his sister Kaycee Shelly said.
Nothing short of the Scarlet Letter approach, and that's putting it nicely. Is this really the school's approach to decreasing disruption? One has to wonder how disruptive a bright yellow T-shirt saying "DCV: Dress Code Violator" is in a classroom, and how disruptive an embittered high school student, along with an embittered school and teachers, is going to be.

Earlier in the day, he was speaking with a local news station when an unidentified teacher walked up to him, ripped off the microphone clipped to his shirt and told him he was not allowed to talk to the media.
This action makes no sense, unless you want to consider that since the school already doesn't want to promote the diverse American culture, that they are no longer in support of the right of free speech in this country either. Otherwise, the school has no authority as to saying who the student can talk to, they simply don't want to loose face in front of the criticism of the more commonsensical public who would eat them alive.

District officials said they apologized to the student, his family and the local American Legion on Wednesday — Constitution Day.

The assistant principal initially thought Shelly’s T-shirt violated a clause of the school dress code that does not allow “shirts/blouses that promote specific races, cultures, or ethnicities.”
This part of the dress code seems designed to be interpreted wrongly. What do they consider as "promoting" various ethnicity and cultures? If the goal is to promote diversity in the school, why aren't the students allowed to wear clothing that promotes their race, culture, and ethnicity? Does this mean that if a girl goes to school wearing a dupatta or a hijāb (head scarf) that she'll have it taken away because it "promotes" the Muslim or Punjabi culture? And worse, that she'll be forced to wear a bright yellow shirt saying "DCV: Dress Code Violator" for the whole day?

Probably not. But in any case, if the rule were to be interpreted literally, it doesn't sound like a way to promote diversity, or make sure no one's ethnic background is trampled on--only undermine it. And how exactly does "United States of America, Washington D.C." trample on American diversity? What kind of country is this where young people can't even wear clothing that promotes the country they live in?

The shirt was a colorful play on hippy clothing for a school spirit week, not a deliberate attempt to disrupt the school environment or trample on other ethnicities. But at least the school saw the error of it's way and apologized, and then went on a binge with the media trying to save face. It's a sad time in America if this is the automatic knee-jerk response to student expression.

Students on campus started a campaign to wear as much red, white or blue clothing and carry as many flags as possible Thursday in protest of Tuesday’s decision, despite the apology. Jake Shelly wore the same shirt he wore Tuesday and was not disciplined.

“I am glad so many people are supporting this and wearing red, white and blue,” his sister said. She believes the swift change in rules was because of the overwhelming student action.

The bright spot in this country has and will always be with it's motivated youth. Student action can bring about change, and it should.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Suspended for Free Speech

Another case of the increasing illegality of childhood. Young people have the capability of voicing an opinion, they are just not allowed to express that capability in ways the school can't proof read. So now kids have to get suspended from school in order to vitalize and actualize their humanity. Isn't that the opposite of what a school is supposed to do for a child?

An 11-year-old in Aurora says his first amendment rights are being trampled after he was suspended for wearing a homemade shirt that reads "Obama is a terrorist's best friend."

The fifth grader at Aurora Frontier K-8 School wore it on a day when students were asked to wear red, white and blue to show their patriotism. According the the boy's father, the school district told the student, Daxx Dalton, that he had the choice of changing his shirt, turning his shirt inside out or being suspended.

Daxx chose suspension.

"They're taking away my right of freedom of speech," he says. "If I have the right to wear this shirt I'm going to use it. And if the only way to use it is get suspended, then I'm going to get suspended."
And with those words this kid proves he knows more about what it means to be an American than any of those beurocrats could ever dream. It's only unfortunate that the price students are forced to pay is to give up on the very thing that supposedly was meant to "expand" their minds. School rules are important, but so are the students. Hats off to this kid.

Aurora Public Schools would not talk about the case but said the district "Respects a student's right to free speech, such as the right to wear specific clothing," but administrators say they review any situation that interrupts the learning environment. Paperwork submitted by the school district says Daxx Dalton was not suspended for wearing the shirt, but for willful disobedience and defiance.

So that's what they're calling a young person's freedom of speech these days. Defiance. Next they'll be calling him hyperactive and then he'll have to be "cured."
The boy's father says he intends to pursue a lawsuit against the district.

Well done, create a big stir, whip up a frenzy. Perhaps it'll teach this school and all others around the country which is really more controversial, which is really more of a "disturbance"...a school who allows so-called "disruptive" opinions to coexist...or a school who denies them and gets full of kids who refuse to go without them?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tell ADHD "not to bother you"

Highly recommended watch: PBS, The Medicated Child (can be viewed online, follow link)

Most experts agree, the term "hyperactive" is applied too often and too widely. It is not uncommon these days for 5 to 10 kids in every classroom in America on average to be labeled "hyperactive" and subsequently diagnosed with ADHD. This is surprising, considering 50 and 60 years ago, no such label even existed. There were no "hyperactive" kids 50 to 60 years ago: they were considered "lazy," or "rebellious," or "fidgety," (Nylund, 2000). Think to yourself, was Huckleberry Finn ever labeled "hyperactive?"

Run down the list of the diagnostics for yourself and consider if this folk hero of American literature was in fact diagnosable by today's standards: "Often does not give close attention to details..." "has trouble keeping attention in tasks or play activities..." "does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork..." "avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort..." "often interrupts or intrudes on others..." "often talks excessively..." ...etc.

Huck Finn is the archtype of the classic American boy, no doubt of antiquity, yet if he were growing up in this century, there is no way he'd be able to escape childhood without a few diagnoses. From 1990 to 1998, there was a 700% increase in Ritalin producation in this country (Diller, 1998). These are staggaring figures. Disorders don't just blossom over the course of a few years. The only explaination for this medicinal and diagnostic trend is, the medical industrial complex, and the uninformed, paranoid public. And either variable has been made dependent on the other.

Ritalin does have some short term advantages, it has been found to reduce non-compliance, incrase attention and cooperation. However, it has been found to have side effects such as incrased heart rate and blood pressure, interference with growth rate, insomnia, weight loss, and nausea (Friend & Bursuck, 2002; Hallahan et al., 2005; Panksepp, 1998). Now if any of your parents think your child will be better off with any of these side effects, you are free and certainly encouraged by the Medical Industrial Complex to do so, at your expense, and unfortunately, your child's. Fight for your kids!

On top of these side effects, it is doubtful whether drug therapy behavior improvements as described above even lead to better academic performance or better social relationships, which are the two areas that ADHD kids have trouble with. Furthermore, the "positive" effects of behavior modification drugs often make parents think that the problem with their child has been "cured" simply because their child's bad behavior has stopped (which happens 80% of the time) and that no other treatment is necessary(Doggett,2004; Purdie, Hattie, & Carroll, 2002). It hasn't stopped. Our children constantly need our help to socialize them properly, with or without the pill, and that's what the drug companies won't tell you, and that is what the drug companies are trying to make us forget.

Research tells us otherwise:

"Multimodal approaches to intervention have been found to be most effective in terms of lasting change...treament with psychostimulants has beneficial effects, provided that it is accompanied by remedial tuition, counselling, and behavior management by parents/teachers as required (van Kraayenoord, Rice, Carroll, Fritz, Dillon, & Hill, 2001, p. 7)."

What are some alternatives? First of all, make assignments for children assumed to be hyperactice or inattentive shorter--lots of problems or lots of paragraphs at once might only bog down a child who is struggling, and make sure you set reinforcements for completion that favor the step by step, problem by problem, paragraph by paragraph accomplishments, along with a reward for completion. You also have to train the child's "skill" and "will" to improve their own acchievement (Paris, 1988).

Pills take the parent/teacher and the child out of the process of the child's development and hand that responsibility to the pill's effectiveness. The responsibility should always be primarally between the parent/teacher and the child, whether he or she is on the pill or not. Children should be taught to control and monitor their own behavior, and this has been shown to have positive effect on their attentiveness or self control. One child-centric (not pill-centric) method for dealing with an ADHD diagnosis is to enlist the child's own strengths and thoughts to combat the urges to behave inappropriately--essentially, to get them to self monitor their own behavior.

Nylund's (2000) strategy for dealing with ADHD children is to get the child to combat sources of "boredom" "trouble" and other external forces, and to help them find ways to first recognize when these urges are happening, and then apply their will to overcome them. This is called the SMART approach, and it begins with seperating the "problem" from the child.

Nylund talks about how a boy named Chris (9 years) and his teacher worked together in unison to overcome his urges. She put him up front so that she could signal to him every time it was time to pay attention, and it was up to him to train himself to pay attention whenever he saw that signal. He got back on track and was able to organize his desk, for instance. He was better attentive, and very self controlled by the end (Nylund, 2000). The only way to get a child to control themselves it seems, is to get a child to literally "control themselves." This seems like common sense, but that's not what the drug companies want you to realize (the ones profiting from that 700% increase in Ritalin production).

If you don't believe this technique can work, ask Chris what he thinks, and he'll tell you:

"You just have to have a strong mind and tell ADHD and Boredom not to bother you (Nylund, 2000)."

So you don't want your child turning into a Huckleberry Finn? That's reasonable. We have to try as a society to implement other strategies with children that don't divest parental or professional involvement in a child's development to a pill. Children have always needed to be taught proper socialization skills, and the rise in ADHD is only symptomatic of a society that has dropped the ball on it's ability to that. Teaching a child socialization skills does not happen on its own, even if the child has been medicated and is showing a "reduction" in negative behaviors (Purdie et al., 2002). ADHD is not a disease, it can't be cured like the flu, it takes active involvement, it takes teaching and learning. It did back in Huck's day, it does now, and it always will.

Passive Youth is an Injustice

Right now, society is passive in the way it deals with kids...it "restricts," and "bans" and "sets curfews" ...all in an attempt to "stop" problems from happening so that it doesn't have to actually deal with them proactively. The only proactive measures society then takes resort to law enforcement against youth agitators antagonistic to these abuses of power.

I argue that society would be better served being proactive with children, "setting mutually understood limits" "allowing children supervised exposure to the real world activities" "giving children opportunities to expand their minds and objectives" ...that way children will be empowered to stop their own problems on their own volition, and by doing all this society will have been dealing with them proactively.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Wrong in Principle--Still Acceptable?

From the UK news publication The Guardian, comes criticism of a photography exhibition involving stylized pictures of children who were provoked to the point of tears intentionally for the sake of getting the shot. The photographer promises that no lasting psychological damage was inflicted on these subjects, and appears to believe that makes this practice justifiable.
"Photographer Jill Greenberg has whipped up a storm of controversy with her new exhibition, End Times. The pictures in the show, for which she deliberately provoked tearful outbursts from children by taking away lollipops she had just given them, have been described by some as tantamount to child abuse."
Taking candy away from children is not child abuse, and I doubt there is any psychological harm coming from this. The real issue is that such a thing as exploiting a child's emotions outside their control or consent for personal gain is tolerated so long as there is no "lasting harm" inflicted. What is the limit before something that is wrong in principle is no longer acceptable, regardless of whether or not it inflicts harm?
"Greenberg herself insists that the children had the sweets returned within 30 seconds, that no lasting harm has been done, and that her concern was to depict what she says reminded her of the "helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation."
What is ironic is that the pictures were taken to protest growing global concerns offset by the traditional appeal to the supposed innocence of children, but what the photographer fails to understand is that the same rationale is often used to justify such global violence, wars, and destruction to begin with, on behalf of protecting that so-called innocence that is being exploited in these photographs.

It certainly seem contradictory to argue for the protection of the innocent while exploiting real live kids for personal monetary and career gain, and stirring up this kind of controversy (abuse issues) only distracts from the very causes she's trying to bring attention to.

I won't post any links to this exhibition or its photographs because it deserves no advertising. It's nice to see controversy and public outcry over this, but controversy often only fuels the fire.