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Where Can A Pedophile Find Their Next Victim? Try An Online Social Networking Venue

By Nikki Weingartner     Jun 3, 2008 in Internet
Go to a website, set up an account and create a profile. That is all that is required of a child in order to set up a MySpace account and is all that was needed for Kenneth Thomsa to find the four teen girls who he lured into bed and videotaped.
In Cleveland, Ohio, Kenneth Thomsa was convicted last month on several counts of unlawful sex with a minor and pandering lewd materials. The man, who was in his early twenties at the time, used his MySpace account to meet the four young girls. He encouraged them to sneak out of their homes in the nighttime and come to his house, where they had sex.
On two separate occasions, he videotaped the sexual encounters.
Thomsa received two years in prison and 5 years probation. He also must register as a sex offender.
MySpace is just one of many social networking sites that give predators one more access tool when it comes to children.
In a newstory run by ABC News just over a year ago, they reported that there were nearly 750 registered sex offenders with MySpace profiles but in a follow up story nine months later, the popular website admitted they had more predators lurking around than they imagined and deleted their accounts; nearly 30,000 of them to be more precise.
The site – popular with teens but feared by parents – says it has deleted 29,000 members it found to be convicted sex offenders.
“We're pleased that we've successfully identified and removed registered sex offenders from our site and hope that other social networking sites follow our lead”
Sure, there are laws that affect those who are registered sex offenders who insist on utilizing the Internet social networking services for their entertainment, like the three New Jersey sex offenders who were banned from having computers but busted just a couple of weeks ago for having Facebook and MySpace accounts.
But those are the ones who have been caught and convicted of a crime, leaving the countless pedophiles and sexual predators out there to rummage through profiles. Who monitors the activity of the innocent teen user who ends up the prey of some sick-minded individual?
Parental monitoring is ever important in the setting up of a MySpace or Facebook account, but does it eliminate the targeted youth?
The answer to that question is No. Although a browse or search of profiles will not reveal anyone who is under the age of 18-years-old, as a member of MySpace, it isn't difficult to tap into a network of children based on geographical location or other profile items.
On one of the sites, there is a link called "safety tips" placed at the very bottom of the page. If a teen user gets past their excitement and actually clicks on this link, they are guided to another page that has several monotonous tabs for the user to click and read, one specifically labeled Teens. However, the teens that I know just might say in response to this section...BORING!
The site also prints the following safety information for teens, in one of many bulleted statements:
People aren't always who they say they are. Be careful about adding strangers to your friends list. It's fun to connect with new MySpace friends from all over the world, but avoid meeting people in person whom you do not fully know. If you must meet someone, do it in a public place and bring a friend or trusted adult.
Teens know everything about everyone within the first three minutes of meeting them. Their behaviours continue to escape the intellectual minds of mental health professionals across the country as they are the ongoing victims of targeted violence as a result of that teenage behaviour.
The Internet is a great place for predators to meet their victims, as numerous sting operations have proven this time and time again. They chat with their victims and then drive, sometimes hundreds of miles to meet the child only to stand face to face with an arresting officer. Even the more popular version, NBC's To Catch A Predator, has brought about the snagging of child sex predators, although some opposed to these programs feel sorry for the sexual predator, feeling the "horrible behaviour" of the police was entrapment. Nothing is said about how the life and well being of a child might have been saved.
The bottom line of it all is that the Internet provides a mask of anonymity from which these individuals can hide behind, pretending to be something they are not. They can use certain forums as an area to befriend groups of teens and from there, target specific teens or children. With the teenage mind still under construction, it isn't a wonder these young individuals are such easy targets.
All of these stories tie into sexual predators and pedophiles in general and the need to be diligent no matter whether you are a parent or grandparent. It is important to question, event the most trusted of individuals, just as a recent case in Austin, Texas showed the country, when just a few days ago, Billy Dan Carroll, a 53-year-old wealthy business owner and, get this, "court appointed children's advocate" was arrested and jailed for charges of aggravated sexual assault with a child.
The police found videos in his home of him having sex with children as young as 3-years-old and also two women who appeared to be drugged. An 8-year-old turned Carroll in after he sexually assaulted her. Police say that his victims may be in the double digits.
Carroll had the undying trust of countless families as an advocate, with the advocacy system representative stating "We got, as I said, glowing personal references from people who have known him for years and said things like 'he's the person I would want to take care of my children if something happened to me.' These are people who have known him for 30, 40 years,"
I wonder how she feels now?
On the computer, at the pulpit and taking care of our children in vulnerable situations, they are out there. Beware.
More about Myspace, Pedophile, Predators
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