Sunday, July 29, 2007
I went to a bookgroup the other night where all the members had chosen one of my titles to read the previous month. It was a really fun evening--what's better than being able to talk about all my books--but one woman relayed some information I had not heard yet, and I'm relaying it now to you.
Back in May, Myspace had deleted 7,000 profiles made by known sex offenders, but they would not share the information with authorities even though for sex offenders on parole or probation using the internet is usually a violation. However, they changed their mind, possibly due to several lawsuits sent their way by parents of children who have been assaulted by sex offenders they met through MySpace. As of last week they have deleted 29,000 profiles by known sex offenders and they are not done yet. Not only are they working hard to make MySpace a safer place to surf, but they are also working with a separate company to develop a national sex offender database rather than the state ones that currently exist.
However, if this makes you feel better, and makes MySpace seem safer, consider that the average sex offender has engaged in an average of 112 events BEFORE they get arrested and there are over 600,000 registered sex offenders in the US and 16 of the 50 states do not have a registry at all. My point: The threat is real.
I have a MySpace profile, both a personal and one for my book, Sheep's_Clothing. It's been a good marketing tool for me, and a way to keep in touch with family members and freinds. I'm not surfing it every day like many people, but I do not believe that MySpace is evil in and of itself and they mandate that kid's have to be 14 in order to have a page. However, it's potential is frightening and this information is just one more reminder of why it's such a big deal right now.
I'm not a zealot, nor an activist. I'm not out to change laws--and some people find my book and this topic too creepy (see the most recent review left on Deseret Book--at least she felt it was well written) but I am about awareness, and learning the risks facing our kids. I learned a lot in writing Sheep's_Clothing, and it's my hope the readers do too.
For more information, go to this article, or buy a copy of Sheep's_Clothing :-) If you'd like to find how many registered sex offenders are in your area, go here. They certainly aren't only on MySpace.
Know your neighborhood and what your kids do online--What you can give them (education and supervision) is the best protection they have.