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    Technorati: graph / links

    The kids aren’t alright…

    by Kulvinder on 7th April, 2006 at 4:00 am    

    The popularity of the Internet and its emergence from backwater medium to ‘mainstream’ society has been met with the usual fear and trepidation by the media over the ogres in society that wait to prowl on unsuspecting teenagers. The predatory paedophile is that most unifying of spectres someone whose presence will disgust everyone regardless of their ethnic background, a symbol of hate everyone can focus on. I don’t seek to defend the misery that child abuse causes but i am more than a little surprised by the attitude and reasoning society takes.

    We often think that children are more ‘innocent’ and naïve about the world, that our relatively advanced years offers perspective on the dangers that exist and that need to be eliminated. We put them on a false pedestal of purity that has no basis in reality. Children – and teenagers in particular aren’t innocent. If they were we’d be able to buffer them from the corruption we supposedly live in without fear of that innocence being affected. Children left to their own devices would live in mutual harmony. Except they wouldn’t, it would degenerate into a Lord of the flies scenario.

    I’m confused by the amount of attention the media puts on the rampant paedophiles supposedly in our midst whilst really failing to grasp just what the Internet enables children to do to other children. I honestly believe that for the most part 99% of children who use the Internet would never meet up someone from the Internet in real-life without taking some form of protection, whether that be telling an adult or taking their friends along to a public place. They’re far more savvy than we give them credit for and we’re far more ignorant of how they’re growing up. The biggest threat, the largest collective harm that the average child could face is not from a ‘grown up’ but from another child.

    This is a hypothesis on my part but one I’m confident is correct. If you surveyed school age children and asked them how many friends or friends of friends they were aware of that have been sexually abused that vast majority would report none. Even rumours of abuse or anything related to that. If on the other hand you asked how many they knew had been targeted by bullies or attacked only for the footage of the attack to be uploaded on the Internet you’d get a far more positive result. That isn’t to say that rape is in anyway comparable to name calling but that the amount of bullying or ‘happy slapping’ that takes place is so far in excess of rape that i find it bizarre at the emphasis put on the former at the seeming cost of the latter.

    The howls of outrage and press attention aren’t efficient at protecting what the majority of children endure. How many journalists i wonder could tell me what Operation Ore was about but would also be able to comprehend what trends like Youtube and Veoh as well as myspace mean to the day to day reality of the average child?

    Please don’t take this as dismissing child abuse but rather an acceptance that the biggest danger and psychological harm to the vast majority of children as result of the Internet is from other children and not the rapist in the bushes.

    A real debate on how to deal with abusive children on the Internet is needed with some urgency. How can vicious name calling let alone physical violence be dealt with when those concerned aren’t adults? Perhaps (and i seriously think this may help) the laws of libel and slander should be adjusted so children can’t use vulgar abuse as a defence, to make it easier for action to be brought against the parents of those children, perhaps a nice easy standard compensation scheme with a ceiling of say £10,000.

    Most parents forget what it was like going to school and overlay their own adult nightmares onto childhood, most kids are probably still only afraid of the bully now armed with a videophone than anything else.

    We really need to do more to discourage this..

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    14 Comments below   |  

    1. Fe'reeha Idrees — on 7th April, 2006 at 8:52 am  

      Children left to their own devices would live in mutual harmony. Except they wouldn’t, it would degenerate into a Lord of the flies scenario.

      First of all, despite beaing a beautiful and breathtaking novel, let me inform you that Lord of the Flies is fiction and not an authentic study done by an scientists. Nor is it a psychological analysis of a group of children. So I am not sure if it is very wise to quote a novel which conveniently divides the world in the good, bad and spiritual. I think this is a totalitarian view of the world and not many will agree with it.

      Secondly, if we were to take Lord of the Flies as an example then it sort of negates the point you are trying to make.

      If anything Goldings successfully achieves in his book that children unattended can lead to catestrophe. Which all the more emphasises the need of better and authentic supervision on them, which can oly come from a grown up, not from the children. Hence you can never compare the level of “knowledge” and “maturity” between two people who are distinguished by years, in particular when the age gap keeps one in the bracket of children. (According to Goldings).
      Lord of Flies relly does not imply children are capeable, conniving humans. It talks of the basic insticts and the importance of law in a society.

      Like all children might not be as innocent as others, the truth remains not all of them are otherwise also. Why are you brushing everyone in general. Can you give an example where you feel media was unfare to a certain case?

    2. Fe'reeha — on 7th April, 2006 at 8:54 am  

      The howls of outrage and press attention aren’t efficient at protecting what the majority of children endure.

      Maybe not but does it mean we stop making efforts assuming they will not give results. Also the howls are not just for reformation, they are of anger. For very few of us will have the heart to sit down and talk about children developing fast and not always being innocent when someone as disgusting s a peodophile has been exposed.

    3. Fe'reeha — on 7th April, 2006 at 9:00 am  

      Most parents forget what it was like going to school and overlay their own adult nightmares onto childhood

      With due apologies, but perhaps this is the case here in this article as well because it’s not just parents who forget but generally adults forget about their childhood fears and problems.
      Besides, not every child, like every grown up, has similar problems. Children are not like one whole species of pandas or polo bears on the verge of extinction. Children and teenagers are a mirror to the society they live in. And this is why rules related to children require serious consideration.
      If for a while, let’s say I even bought your argument, I would still be more interested in looking at the society which led to the situation where children are being labelled as the biggest threat to other children, instead of lambasting them.

      most kids are probably still only afraid of the bully now armed with a videophone than anything else.

      And because the kids are not afraid, everything is fine?

    4. Fe'reeha — on 7th April, 2006 at 9:01 am  

      Despite my disagreement, I think you have started a very interesting debate. Because it s important to channel our thoughts to children and their problems.
      And I am sure a lot of people, in particular parents, have strong opinion on this.

    5. sonia — on 7th April, 2006 at 11:41 am  

      hmm what you say is generally valid, not just to do with kids, but ‘panic’ in general. and the panic about the internet - well its similar to the general scenario of ‘moral panics’ - check out the history of culture surrounding ‘new’ technologies - so when the telegraph, telephone, tv came about people were all ‘panicky’.

      i think you have a point - but its not so much that children aren’t at risk from adults -they most certainly are - but not from the ‘rapist’ in the bushes - but much closer to home - relatives, family friends - look up the stats on child abuse - its pretty shocking, most of abusers are someone the child knows - an adult who’s either a relative or a family friend. in my opinion ( especially in asian families) the issue of child abuse is
      completelyignored and underestimated.

      but its the same with social panic over other forms of violence - for example, women and how we’re supposed to be so worried about being walked home and dangerous rapists and murderers hiding behind every shrub. Homicide statistics ( i’ll get some references out and post them on my blog) show that you’re far more likely to be killed by your husbands/lover or in the case of rape - an acquaintance, family member or someone you know.

      yes kids are savvy, most people are - but when it comes to dealing with people close to you - as an adult you have to choice to leave easily, kids don’t - they are vulnerable, and why do you think there are so many runaways? The spotlight should be on families facing up to the horrific reality of child abuse, and not ‘externalizing’ onto some ’stranger’ out there.

    6. sonia — on 7th April, 2006 at 11:46 am  

      well if you asked kids to ask their peers if they were abused - sexually or otherwise - they wouldn’t report it - you’re probably right about that. does that mean abuse doesn’t exist - ha no, like i said, usually the problem is no one wants to admit it, especially because its usually someone close to home! i think kulvinder if you seriously want to discuss this area, or put forth empirical assertions you ought to find out more about child abuse. yes the media is hysterical - but that’s not half as much of a problem of the consistent denial of child abuse that has gone on for god knows how long. i do see what you’re trying to get at in your post but you are definitely minimizing/brushing over the real issues of child abuse. yep bullying is a big issue - another issue certainly. but just cause kids are bullied at school and you can see that sort of thing easily, doesn’t mean you ought to negate the abuse that’s silent and hidden.

    7. SajiniW — on 7th April, 2006 at 1:10 pm  

      Good points raised here mate - happy slapping is a disgusting phenomenon.

    8. Kulvinder — on 7th April, 2006 at 1:58 pm  

      Fe’reeha im afraid i don’t understand the points you’re trying to make, repost into a single reply. Sonia i never made empirical assertions, i did explain it was a hypothesis. The article was centred around ‘happy slapping’ and video bullying and the relative lack of media coverage of those as an internet phenomenon in comparison (as a reference point from) internet paedophilia. I wasn’t brushing it under the carpet merely focusing the article on something else whilst using that as a datum. I did try and point that out…

    9. Sunny — on 7th April, 2006 at 4:22 pm  

      Well, to say there has been no outrage against happy slapping is missing the tons of news coverage around it.

      News organisations work around ‘big events’. Thus it may be that paedophiles get all the attention when little bullying events don’t, but that is precisely because paedophilia is more rare and more horrific. So from the media perspective its logical they are going to make lots of noise about it.

      Where I do agree with you is the assumption that kids are nice and innocent beings. Rubbish. Some of them are so twisted it worries me. That vide you posted… I was shocked last night when I saw it. And to think people are standing around laughing!

      But then it really depends on your twisted perspective.

      A few years ago the Saudi police stopped a bunch of girls running out of a burning school building because the girls were not sufficiently covered. In India every single day brides get petrol chucked on them and burnt.

      The problem is that society ends up legitimising certain kinds of crimes and makes a big deal about others, because it fits in with their values. We for example bomb other countries or try and impose trade embargoes “for their own good”… and swat away carelessly at the reports of tens of thousands dead.

      Unless we collectively value each and every life regardless of their values, colour, religion etc - its all a game of power and moralistic values.

      Anyway, I think I’ve digressed enough :|

    10. squared — on 8th April, 2006 at 2:05 am  

      Kids are more aware of paedophiles now than ever before. Those radio adverts are fucking scary… Not to mention TV programs which work paedophiles into the story. I agree with Kulvinder - the kids of today are a lot more savvy than we think they are.

      And yea, the biggest threat to kids is other kids. STOP THE CHILD ON CHILD VIOLENCE DAMMIT… Scissors in the eye, happy slapping, verbal abuse… Kids are nasty little bastards.

      I think fining the parents could be a plan - some parents refuse to take action even when their kids’ behaviour is thrown in front of them. However it may also seem unfair to fine parents who seemingly have tried their best…

      It’s an interesting argument, the responsibility of parents for their children’s actions.

    11. saira — on 8th April, 2006 at 1:43 pm  

      I think it is a very heartless feature and written by someone who has no idea of children behaviour.
      I do not understand how can one threat undermine another?

    12. Kulvinder — on 8th April, 2006 at 2:42 pm  

      …you can’t stop people willfully misreading your posts, i would like to add that i was artificially brought up in a birth chamber and was ‘born’ at the age of 21 having never qualified as a child.

    13. sonia — on 8th April, 2006 at 7:46 pm  

      i think sunny has a good point. yeah there’s no point pretending kids can’t be vicious. but we live in a vicious world so its not surprising it.

    14. jaggi — on 17th April, 2006 at 2:23 pm  

      Hey sunny great stuff, someone sent me this, but you ought to do your research properly man, otherwise you will sound like most Indian journalists who make up stories on hunch, you can’t be a good journalist and say you heard he swore at Paxman, You just got to get a video recording and see if he did. Not good for us indie guys when we get into gossip instead of facts.

      This man, Rai, sounds cool man. I dont know him myself, but what i have heard, he refuses to play victim. Seems you have the wrong man. And my friend inside BBC says that he is one of the few people who got the better of Paxman, put them white liberals in their place and stood his ground man. how do I contact him.

      What he tell you in that broadcast that got you so angry, man. Seems he got you too. My friend says Rai is arrogant but proud. stay cool man, keep your cool sunny man. otherwise you will sound like them wogman types who pretend to be cool like them English, but them suddenly flip. Stay cool, ok good stuff.

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