Monday was my youngest son’s first day back to school.  He is now a senior in High School; it should be an exciting and fun filled year.  However after hearing about an assembly and a lecture on internet safety it is likely to be more interesting than fun. 


The principal decided that it would be a good idea to have a Wyoming police officer gives a lecture on internet sexual predators. To illustrate how dangerous the internet can be the officer pulled up a few students MySpace pages and displayed them for the entire student body.  The officer criticized photos and the page’s content and even told the student body that he shared information with a sexual predator in prison.  One student was so humiliated she left the auditorium in tears.


I understand the principal had the best of intentions in having this police officer lecture on internet sexual predators.  High School kids need to be aware that when they post anything on the internet, everyone on the planet can view the content.  I can even understand the police officer using shock tactics to try to emphasize the urgency.  He is, after all, exposed to nothing but creeps, criminals, rapists and thugs every day.  But the officer went too far and the principal should have known the content of the lecture before it was given.


Embarrassing children in front of their peers for the purpose of teaching them to be cautious is wrong, but reviewing kids MySpace pages then calling them “slutty” and an invitation to sexual predators is insulting, and dangerous.


Would it be ok if a nutritionist came to the school and asked all the fat students to come up to the stage and show everyone how dangerous it is to be overweight?  I am sure that more people suffer an early death from poor diet than from rape.  Think of your own little world, how would this tactic work in your office?  How would you feel if there was an assembly at work and the IT department showed a slide show of all the personal photos and e-mails people sent during company time? 


 I am still amazed at the comments from this story on the 9News website.  People are congratulating the police for being stern, chastising the parents for not monitoring their students web activities well enough, blaming the children for being naive about internet predators, and saying basically that being slutty is just asking for it! 


The worst part of this whole episode at the assembly is the message it gives to the students. 

“He told about a story about a girl in another state who was tracked through MySpace who was raped and shot and then said that the student’s page is inviting people to do the exact same things to her,”

My jaw dropped.

MySpace pages are inviting criminals?

Stop trying to make the victim responsible for the crime.  The idea that there is a connection between your webpage, your cloths, or how you present yourself as an invitation to criminal activity is wrong and dangerous. 

Is acting “Gay” an invitation to get beaten up by homophobe thugs?    Should homosexual men watch how they walk to keep from enticing redneck homophobe criminals?

Should women wear burqas in public to prevent lustful tendencies in men? 

Should short skirts, and high heels come with a rape disclaimer? 

 Should wealthy people watch how they dress to prevent criminals from robbing them for their wealth?  Will there be a market for gold watches that look like plastic?

Sure it’s irresponsible to walk through a high crime area with a sign that says “I am rich and carry lots of cash rob me”, but I do not think that is what the internet has come to.  It’s a tool, and like any tool it can be abused.  Blaming the victim, or the tool, or the weapon is the wrong lesson. 


Everyone should be aware of what goes on around them.  Teenagers need to be aware that every word and every picture that they put on the internet is open to the masses. No mater how secure the website someone can get in if they want too.  But remember it’s the predator that looks for victims.  Whether online, standing in a dark corner at the mall, or across the street from the high school, a sexual predator is just that, a predator, and should be treated accordingly. 


Making the victim responsible for the crime is the wrong message.  Singling out individual students to set them as an example of risky behavior is wrong.  I would like to think that a principal of a High School would know better. 


It’s a poor lesson.




8 thoughts on “Victims

  1. Burrowowl says:

    I think an enlightened society encourages its women to wear skimpy clothing.

    That said, a lot of kids do stupid stuff. Some of that stupid stuff puts them in more danger than they ought to be in. Some of that stupid stuff is on the Internet, where there are terrible people and many parents don’t know what’s what. They should have had a seminar for you, not your son (who is a total slut, btw).

    From my experience most High School boys are sluts. Some grow out of it.
    I didn’t.
    I agree with you the school could have made more of an impact by holding this kind of seminar for the parents. The only problem is the same as they have with parent teacher conferences, the only parents that show up are the ones that don’t need to.
    I have no problem with addressing the dangers of careless internet activity with High School kids, it’s the method and message the officer used, and the lack of oversight that the principal displayed that I found disturbing.

  2. Layman Pong says:

    “I need a volunteer. Here’s what I’m going to do: I’ll show your Myspace page to everyone here, and I’m going to use it to show ways in which you might be exploited. I will tell it to you straight, but that’s because I need to make it clear to you before someone traps you. You’ll need to be tough enough to take that, and you in the audience need to respect the volunteer for going out on a limb. Any volunteers?”

    “No? Well, in that case, I’ve brought a page on which I’ve greyed out names and faces…”

  3. Layman Pong says:

    I like the little fartflame coming out the back of the V-2 in your banner shot.

    Slang term for that is an “orange banana.”

  4. What the police did was over the line. That being said, people (not just kids) are often woefully unequipped for understanding how what they do effects others and them selves.

    I strongly agree with you that putting the blame on the victim is wrong. That being said, personal responsibility for your decisions and actions needs to be taken into account as well, regardless of age. I can’t think of a better way to do this with Myspace than Layman Pong’s post. That was it in a nutshell. Good job.

    BTW, I think the principal needs a public spanking.

    -Turkish Prawn

  5. spudgun says:

    Yea, that cop was a little over the line… People can be very stupid.

    I googled the average IQ for america… its about 100.

    Go figure.

  6. planetross says:

    I guess shock tactics work, but I think that’s a lot over the line in front of peers and everyone else in attendance. It probably made the point that the internet can be dangerous and the local police are not your friends.

    My Space, Facebook, Orkut, WordPress and anything online can be abused and are by predators; but so are libraries, parking lots, shopping centers, and every other place you can think of.

  7. Tony says:

    A poor lesson indeed, as Ross pointed out anything can be abused.
    We all need to be accountable for our actions, but that doesn’t mean being responsible for the actions of others who may do the wrong thing & take advantage of our actions.
    Making the victim responsible for the crime is most definitely the wrong message, this unfortunately seems to be a common attitude when it comes to rape victims.

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