I don’t even like MySpace. Why do I find myself defending the nasty thing? But here I am.
Four families have sued the popular social-networking site MySpace and its owner, News Corp., after their teenage daughters were solicited online and sexually abused by adults they met on the site, lawyers for the families said Thursday.
“In our view, MySpace waited entirely too long to attempt to institute meaningful security measures that effectively increase the safety of their underage users,” Arnold and Itkin lawyer Jason Itkin said in a statement.
“Blaming the families of abuse victims who were solicited online, as some have done, is a cynical excuse that ignores the fact that social networking sites can lead to heinous abuse by Internet predators,” said Adam Loewy of Barry & Loewey. “It is now clear that MySpace recognizes that serious security problems exist.”
Right. Where were these parents while their daughters were chatting away? How long did that go on before their daughters encountered the predators in person? Where where they when their daughters met these adults in person?
How likely is it that the parents were actually supervising their children’s internet use? Very unlikely, to be honest. I know that firsthand, unfortunately. I’ll lay money on the fact that they gave their kids computers just like they’d given them TVs, stuck them in their bedrooms, gave them unlimited (or nearly so) internet access, and let them go. Have fun, glad you aren’t bugging us!
Parenting is work. Supervising your children takes time and effort. Suerpvising your children’s internet access takes that and educating yourself and your kids, investing in technical tools, installing them, keeping them and your knowledge up to date, and having a good, trusting, open relationship with your children. Oh—did I forget to mention that first?
Your relationship with your children is the single most important factor in keeping them safe any where, any time. If you do not gain their trust and respect, they won’t have any reason to listen to anything you say, or to obey any guidelines you put in place. In fact, they’ll go to extra lengths to get around the roadblocks just because they’re there!
You have to protect your children. Not MySpace. Not AOL or Yahoo! or your ISP or the police or their schools or the phone company or “the government.” It’s all 100% up to you. You have all of the rights as far as determining what they can and cannot access, and you have all of the responsibility when you screw that up. Even if it results in them hooking up with sexual predators.
Am I saying that the families are guilty of the sexual abuse? No, not at all. That shouldn’t have happened to their daughters. But the families are guilty of not protecting their children, and these lawsuits are absolutely criminal in trying to shift that blame.
While I haven’t seen the suits, obviously, to me it looks way too much like the families are trying to make money off their children’s suffering. And that is almost as sick as the predators who attacked the children in the first place.