Stop, Drop and Roll: Internet Crimes

Scince it's birth, the internet has opened an infinate information highway to the world. It helps people in business and communities connect with news, entertainment and communication. However, some of these opourtunities can open themselves to negative information as well. The following situations illustrate the negative consequences when the internet is abused and innocent people are affected.

In November 1997, an article in Current Health wrote about several internet betrayals ending in arrests. One involved a man who sent a message asking, "Do you need a daddy?" Apon further investigation, the reciever of the message wrote that she was 14 years old. The man continued to send "sexual messages over a period of time." The reciever happened to be Lynda Medbury, a police officer who was able to "bring federal charges against the man." (Kowalski)

Another story was printed below the first, stating that two New Jersey men were arrested in 1996 for molesting a 15-year-old boy whom they met on the internet in a "chat room." (Kowalski)

Two more arrests were made for molestation of minors. One, in 1996, involved a 14-year-old whom was conacted through the internet. Another, in 1995, involved a married man who raped a 14-year-old girl afetr meeting her in an online chat room and convincing her to meet him. (Kowalski)

In 1997, The Gainesville Sun reported on an officer who was arrested and charged for having sex with a minor whom he met in an internet chat room. According to the article, he represented himself as someone in his twenties to get her to meet him at a local Travelodge. What made it even worse was that the girl was 16, and he was a 32-year-old corrections officer for the Jackson Correctional Institution in north Florida. (sunone.com)

Lawrence J. Magid, an executive in the The Online Safety Project at the Smithsonian Institution, frequently prints articles and letters in the "Safeteens.com" Web site. In an article titled "Porno Spammers and Our Kids," he wrote that his 11-year-old son was recieving mail from "adults-only" sites in his "in-box." Some of these messages were sent under the heading "adults only," but others were not. One was sent under the heading, "I need your vote!" This message was from Horny Harry.

"It doesn't appear that Harry and the other porno-spammers are breaking any laws," Magid wrote. "According to Nancy Publicover, manager of the Interactive Association's online education network, part of the problem . . . is that spammers have no way of knowing if they're sending material to children, so they can't be accused of tergeting kids." (Magid, safekids.com)

On January 9, 2001 an LRP Publications School Violence Report printed an article entitled "Custodian escapes firing over pornographic Web surfing." The article explained that the New York court overruled the firing of the custodian on the base that it was too harsh a punnishment. The custodian allegedly surfed pornographic Web sites on the school's computers during night shifts. This was done after the school distributed a memo reguarding its policy against inappropriate internet use.

These illegal actions are unfortunate, and they all begin online. The Internet, especially chat rooms, allow virtually anyone to get anywhere - even into the bedrooms of children. This communication is almost impossible to regulate, putting the responsibility of censorship on individual viewers.

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