Thursday, December 15, 2011

MN - High School Apologizes for ‘Incest’ Prank Involving Blindfolded Kids Kissing Their Parents

This is a sex crime, and everyone involved, even the parents, should be in jail awaiting trial! And the principal, in the second video, who is "apologizing" is basically smiling about it!


FL - Sex sting: TSA agent (Paul David Rains), ex-cop charged in online child-predator sting

Original Article

12/15/2011

By Arelis R. Hern√°ndez

Nearly 50 people — including 10 with Central Florida ties — were arrested during a six-month investigation known as Operation Amalgamate that targeted suspected online predators, officials said Thursday.

Agencies across the state, including the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, collaborated to root out alleged online sex crimes against children perpetrated in chat rooms, through text messages, dating sites, social networks and classified advertisements, officials said.

FDLE and local law enforcement agencies arrested 48 suspects in 17 Florida counties. Special agent Mike Phillips said the arrests are an achievement of the new collaboration between the Attorney General's office and his agency.

Thursday's announcement was a summary of all the arrests in which FDLE played a role, so many of them were previously publicized by the Orange, Osceola and Volusia County Sheriff's Offices, said FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger.

Suspects include then-Transportation Security Administration agent Paul David Rains, 62, of Orlando, who no longer works for the agency.

He and the other suspects face charges ranging from child pornography and sex battery to lewd and lascivious assault and sexual performance by a child.


Treating Pedophiles: Therapy Can Work, But It's a Challenge

Original Article

12/15/2011

By Lauren Cox

For years David Prescott sat face to face with pedophiles, trying to evaluate if the people before him were making progress in treatment.

Prescott is a licensed therapist who worked in Minnesota, one of the 20 states that have passed civil commitment laws. Courts in these states have the power to confine child molesters, rapists and other sex offenders who have finished their prison sentences but are deemed too dangerous to re-enter the community. The former inmates can stay there indefinitely, or until they prove therapy has made them safe to leave.
- So tell me, when you are cooped up for years, without being out in public to interact with other people, how does one "prove" they are not a threat?  Since the founding of the Constitution, it has been the other way around, it's the governments job to prove, beyond a shadow of doubt, they are a threat, not the other way around!

"So far, research shows that treatment very definitely can work," Prescott said. But critics of the treatment point out that psychotherapy doesn't work if someone drops out of therapy, or is kicked out. And treatment centers can cost tens of thousands of dollars per person each year. A 2011 government audit showed Minnesota spent $120,000 annually per person in civil commitment.

Two decades of published work with sex offenders haven't produced a cure, Prescott said. Instead, therapists aim to help pedophiles resist their urges.
- Once again, another article inter-mixing the terms sex offender and pedophile.  Stop doing this.  If you are talking about pedophiles, then talk about pedophiles.

"We don't know how to change the fact that a person is sexually attracted to children," said Dr. Fred Berlin, director of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic in Baltimore. "But that doesn't mean there can't be successful treatment."
- If you are looking for some magical "cure," you will be looking for a very long time.  Like smoking, or drinking, there isn't a "cure," only steps to manage it.

A New, Challenging Treatment for Pedophiles

In the early 1980s, therapists focused on a pedophile's sexual attractions in harsh and confrontational tones. But research has since shown an empathetic tone is more effective, said Prescott, a past president of the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers who is now the clinical instructor of the Becket Family of Services Center in Maine.

"Let me just be clear, you can be very challenging by being warm and empathic," Prescott said. For instance, Prescott said he might respond to someone resisting group therapy by saying, "You don't like the term sex offender, and yet your victim was willing to testify against you?"
- What?  Is it me, or does the statement in quotes make no sense?

Many pedophiles have issues with their personal boundaries and interpersonal violence, said Robin Wilson, an assistant professor of psychiatry at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Treating these issues may keep them from abusing others.

But perhaps more important, Wilson said, is for a convicted sex offender to build up the support of people who will hold him accountable for good behavior once he re-enters the community. (Wilson estimates 5 percent or less of pedophiles are female.)
- And probably 5% or less of all sex offenders are pedophiles, yet both these doctors are making it appear as if most sex offenders are pedophiles, unless I am just misreading it?

"There's a common misperception that sex offenders are sex offenders all the time. That's not necessarily true. Under certain circumstances they do have normal relationships," Wilson said.
- I would say under MOST circumstances they have a normal relationship, but hey, I'm no professional either.

Some pedophiles might be able to turn their sexual attractions toward healthy adult relationships, said Dr. Richard Krueger, who is in the group working on updating the information about pedophilia in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the handbook professionals use in diagnosing patients.

For example, Krueger argues there is the "hebephilic" type of pedophile, who is sexually attracted to pubescent children, and the "pedohebephilic" type, who is sexually attracted to both prepubescent and pubescent children. People with these attractions can sometimes be nudged into focusing on adults, said Krueger, who is the medical director of the Sexual Behavior Clinic at New York State Psychiatric Institute in New York.

However, pedophiles who fall under the "classic type," and are attracted only to prepubescent children, usually under age 11, often don't change their focus, Krueger said.

"With some pedophiles who are fixated, you can't really make much of a dent; you may not be able to change their sexual interest pattern," Krueger said. "In these situations pretty much you can only repress things, and you would use androgen [drug] therapy to do this." This drug therapy reduces testosterone levels, which in turn curbs sexual appetite.
- I personally think anybody can change, if they want to.

How to Prove Treatment Works

The gold standard in medical studies requires a control group to go untreated to prove the value of a new drug or treatment. But studies of pedophiles cannot ethically have such a control group in the general community, out of safety concerns.

Instead, researchers look to compare the fate of inmates who by circumstance received treatment or didn't. A 2004 study, which included 109 convicted sex offenders who completed therapy and 37 who dropped out, showed "non-completers" were six times as likely to commit another sexual or violent crime, compared with those who completed therapy (So, how many of the 37 actually committed a new sex crime later?  You don't mention that!). But the researchers, who published in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, noted that sex offenders who completed therapy were not any more likely to show empathy toward their past victims.
- So, since you don't mention it, were all these convicted sex offenders all pedophiles?

In the late 1980s, Berlin tracked 406 men convicted of sex crimes against children in Maryland. Five years after they were discharged, 2.9 percent of men who completed therapy had been arrested for another sex crime. Men who didn't complete therapy re-offended at a rate of 7.4 percent, according to the article, published in the American Journal of Forensic Psychiatry.

"On average, there is a 40 percent reduction of recidivism (or re-offending) by treatment in studies," Krueger said.

Crimes can go unreported, making a true study of treatment efficacy difficult. Moreover, states with civil commitment programs release former inmates at different rates.

No person who was civilly committed in the state of Minnesota since its 1994 law has been discharged, according to 2011 reports by the state Office of the Legislative Auditor. Minnesota has one of the highest per capita civil commitment rates: 575 persons committed thus far.

In Florida, where Wilson served as clinical director of the Florida Civil Commitment Center (Which is ran by Geo-Group, who runs the prisons as well, so there is a conflict of interest, IMO!), about 40,000 incarcerated sex offenders have been screened since civil commitment legislation in 1998. Of those, Wilson said the state civilly committed 1.7 percent, or approximately 700 people. About 30 of those 700 have been released because they finished treatment.
- So you see, the media and politicians tell us that sex offenders are so dangerous.  If that were true, wouldn't Florida and other states being committing more people, or sentencing them to longer times in prison?

"Surprisingly that makes Florida one of the highest releasers," Wilson said.

"People can look at risks in terms of groups — but I couldn't tell you with any degree of precision which person is more or less likely to offend again," Berlin said. On the other hand, "There's nothing about prison that erases a person's attraction, or heightens their ability to control themselves," he said.


American Prisons: Slavery By The Backdoor

Well, we are called the "Prison Nation," and for a reason!


Video Link


Parable of Encouragement

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

MORAL:
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.


Busting Myths About Online Safety

Original Article

12/14/2011

By Larry Magid

I’ve been working in the online safety field since 1993 when I wrote Child Safety on the Information Highway for the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. That document was based on what we thought we knew at the time — before there was any research about the way kids and teens actually use the Internet. It’s still reasonably good advice for young kids, but it’s no longer what I’m telling people about pre-teens and teens. Unfortunately, some people are still using that advice from 1993 to apply to all kids.

Since then we have learned a great deal about online safety, including the fact that most kids are doing pretty well. Although there are risks, many of the things that adults worry about are far less likely than some imagine.

Though there have been some confirmed cases of children and teens being sexually molested by adults they meet online, the risk of a teen or child being harmed by an online predator is actually very low. It can be terrible when it happens, but it happens very rarely.

Even the risk of cyberbullying and sexting have been exaggerated. As I point out in this article, Cyberbulling is a serious problem, but it’s not an epidemic. Sexting, as a recent study from the Crimes Against Research Center just demonstrated, is far less prominent than some early reports have indicated.

Adults still need to be concerned about kid and teen safety but we need to take an approach that respects kids (especially as they start to mature) and recognizes that most kids have better judgement than we give them credit for.

Useful resources:


Disclosure: Larry Magid is co-director of ConnectSafely.org and founder of SafeKids.com.


Facebook’s age limits pose a puzzle for parents

Original Article

Until kids understand privacy and the potential dangers of divulging too much information, they should not be allowed on any social network.

12/15/2011

By Michael B. Farrell

Facebook’s rules put parents in a quandary

Soon after Brandon Mercer started sixth grade last year at Braintree’s Thayer Academy, he joined Facebook.

All his friends were there,’’ said his mother, Gretchen Mercer, and she didn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be there, too.

He was 11, two years shy of officially being allowed on Facebook. But like millions of other parents whose tweens flock to the social media site that has become a lifeblood of modern adolescence, Mercer, 49, didn’t mind breaking the rules.

They certainly don’t make it difficult for anyone with any computer knowledge to get on,’’ she said. “Luckily he did it with my knowledge, and he didn’t get on without me knowing it.’’

It’s become one of the most pressing questions for parents of children growing up in the digital age: When should they let their children join Facebook or should they be on the site at all? An estimated 7.5 million preteens - including 5 million under 10 - are part of the social network in violation of Facebook’s terms of service, according to Consumer Reports. (How do I report a child under the age of 13?)

A study last month funded by Microsoft Research in Cambridge found that many under-age users were aided by parents who either lied about their child’s age or were simply unaware Facebook has age limits.

According to the report, “Why parents help their children lie to Facebook about age,’’ 78 percent of parents say they would let their child join a website in violation of age requirements. When asked about Facebook’s age policy, the report found that only 53 percent of parents said they know the site has a minimum age and only half of those know it is 13.

The study calls into question the effectiveness of age limits for sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google, since many parents are often unaware they exist and see little problem with ignoring them.

Ambivalence about age limits has alarmed many specialists, who have created a cottage industry out of advising parents about the pitfalls of Facebook. They say unleashing young children onto a site originally created for college students opens them up to any number of grown-up scenarios - from navigating complex relationships to exposure to scams - that they often aren’t old enough to handle.
- The same can be said for the Internet in general.  It's not just Facebook or other social networks.

Democratic Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts held a briefing in Washington yesterday for lawmakers and specialists on the issue of online privacy, including the topic of young children on Facebook. The social media company recently settled a Federal Trade Commission case over past privacy practices.

Sites should take the strongest possible measures to keep kids from accessing material that isn’t appropriate,’’ said Markey. “I’m interested in giving tools to parents that make it possible for them to enhance the safety of a Wild West online world for their children.’’

The 1998 Child Online Privacy Protection Act, sponsored by Markey, forbids websites from collecting information on anyone under 13 without verifiable parental consent. The law, which is in the process of being updated, is meant to shield preteens from aggressive marketing and encourage parental involvement in their children’s online lives.

As a result, many social media sites bar anyone under 13 instead of relying on parental verification, which typically involves sending an e-mail to parents to get permission. That’s how sites such as Disney’s Club Penguin that are aimed at young children comply with privacy act requirements.

The confusion over age shows that federal policy regarding children’s online privacy isn’t working, said Danah Boyd, a researcher at Microsoft in Cambridge and lead author of the Facebook report it funded. “Nobody understands what is happening with data and privacy. We are relying on adults to make decisions about kids’ privacy when adults don’t know what they are doing.’’

Just 9 percent of parents said their child’s personal information - from who their friends are to their favorite Justin Bieber song - was being used for advertising. That suggests, according to the study, that they aren’t aware that every single thing posted online can be used for targeted ads.

Facebook has more information and data on all of us than the FBI, and it’s because we voluntarily share that information with them,’’ said Linda Fogg Phillips, author of “Facebook for Parents.’’

The real issue with children sharing information with Facebook, she said, is that “they don’t understand the public nature of what they are saying and they don’t understand the vulnerability of being there.’’

While Facebook can be a healthy place for children to connect, say specialists and many parents, younger children in particular face a dizzying array of hazards that range from stumbling onto racy pictures to online bullying to being easier prey for scammers and hackers.

Some scammers will try to become friends with young users to extract personal details - names, birthdays, locations - as a way of figuring out their parents’ passwords. Parents often unwisely use their children’s names and birthdays as passwords whether for e-mail or online banking, said Doug Fodeman, codirector of ChildrenOnline, a Web safety consulting firm, and tech director of Brookwood School in Manchester.

Facebook is “an amazing piece of software but it’s not for younger kids, it’s not even for younger teens,’’ said Fodeman. “The critical question that no one seems to ask or care about is that just because a child can do something with technology, should they?’’

Click image to enlarge

It took a year of nagging and plenty of conditions for Kimberly Jackson to let her 12 1/2-year-old daughter join Facebook.

Whenever I would hang out with my friends they would be like, ‘I’m going to check my Facebook,’ and I would be the only person to say, ‘Oh, I don’t have a Facebook,’ ’’ said Kelly Jackson, who is now 13.

Kimberly Jackson, 50, struggled with the decision, but feeling that her daughter was mature enough to venture into social media - with guidelines like giving mom access to her Facebook page - she said OK.

I wasn’t worried about breaking the Facebook rule because my daughter wasn’t old enough according to ‘Facebook law’,’’ she said. “I was worried about the appropriateness and the vulnerability. I worried about bullying, I worried about good judgment and knowing what to post and what not to post.’’

While some parents may see age limits as gray areas, Facebook has a more definitive view.

The minute we know a user is underage, we immediately remove their account,’’ said Nicky Jackson Colaco, Facebook’s public policy manager. The company won’t say how many underage users it kicks off the site every year.

Jackson Colaco said the issue is difficult to police. “It’s a huge challenge for us and we are really trying to innovate and develop technology to verify the age of users,’’ she said. “There is no singular piece of technology that will keep someone under 13 from signing up.’’

About 80 percent of American teenagers who are online use social media, according to the Pew Research Center, and that means that most parents will inevitably face questions from their children about Facebook.

For Vicki Lincoln of Newburyport, whose 12-year-old son Sam has said he’d like a Facebook account, the risks outweigh the benefits.

The 51-year-old mother said it’s like putting a child in the driver’s seat of a powerful car and letting them learn by crashing. She’d rather let him play out his development highs and lows offline, and not on “such a volatile platform as Facebook.’’

Still, she acknowledged, “all we are doing is sticking our finger in the dike of an information onslaught that will be coming. We’re just trying to buy a little time to help him mature a little bit.’’