It’s been a good week for the media, and a bad week for parents.
The arrest of former schoolteacher John Mark Karr in the slaying of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey launched a flurry of excited stories about pedophiles, child abduction and murder. The cable news stations could hardly hide their glee, and even the New York Times joined in.
n a two-part series on pedophilia, the newspaper reported that many pedophiles now use Internet support groups to swap how-to tips on getting jobs as camp counselors and teachers. Increasingly, the Times said, “pedophiles view themselves as the vanguard of a nascent movement seeking legalization of child pornography and the loosening of age-of-consent laws. They portray themselves as battling for children’s rights to engage in sex with adultsâ€¦.”
Great. For anxious parents, it was a week of being paranoid and creeped out : a week to double-check the window locks, run a background check on the preschool music teacher and remind the kids not to enter beauty pageants, talk to strangers, go online or leave the house until their 40th birthday.
True, the statistics suggest that an American child is about as likely to share JonBenet’s fate as she is to be killed by lightning. The abduction and murder of children by people outside their families is exceedingly rare.
But as the mother of preschool girls, I know how easy it is to succumb to irrational panic in the face of this week’s 24/7 media obsession with pedophilia.
Read the rest here.