Essay: Children, Especially Teenagers, Are at a Vulnerable

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Children, especially teenagers, are at a vulnerable age where desires for acceptance and love reach beyond their families, resulting in a risk that did not exist before. With the increasing popularity and lack of monitoring of the internet within the United States, there is an ever growing risk of internet predatory action, resulting in an increased victimization of children. One of the greatest concerns is the lack of control and protection available to parents and the inability of parents to adequately protect children from these predators.

Children are at a greater risk than ever before for internet predatory actions. With the increasing amount of online social networking sites, including many that are specifically geared toward young children, more and more time is being spent socializing online. The risk becomes even greater for children whose naive nature makes them ideal targets as they so willingly disclose private information online. Finally, as was stated in the article "Alicias Story" and was reiterated in a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law, online predators and obsessional harassers hone their techniques and condition their victims to have a false sense of safety and an obligation of loyalty to the online predator, being led to do anything the predator desires (McGrath, 2002). It is these factors that combine to make an exceptionally high risk for children.

The internet is an ideal tool for predators because it offers privacy and secrecy that no other source offers. Whereas telephone and in-person meetings limit communication and pose the risk of parent intervention, online social networks can be accessed at any time of day, and only require an internet connected device. Additionally, communications conducted on a social network offer users a higher level of disconnection from those they are communicating with, resulting in more risque communications and the ability for predators to use specific language that they know will lure children. According to a study published in the Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, most predators have practiced their trade to the point of knowing precise language and tone for writing that will draw in victims and result in complete cooperation (Marcum, 2008). Such a risk is often unknown to both parents and children until an abduction or abuse has already taken place.

There are ways that parents can protect their children from internet predators. The simplest way that parents can protect their children is by only having a family computer in the home. By having the computer in a public place where all actions can be reviewed by supervising adults, children are less likely to abuse computer privileges. Additionally, parents should educate their children on the dangers of internet predators and discourage social networking by young children. Finally, and the most ideal solution, keep the children busy, so that little to no time is available for internet socializing and instead real friendships take priority. According to a study by the Journal of Adolescent Research, completely restricting children from online social networking is less effective and can actually harm a child's social development. Instead, networking should be limited to private networks accessible only by established real-life friends (Tynes, 2007).

With the internet becoming increasingly dangerous and social networking being utilized by children at younger and younger ages, the risk is growing for child predatory action on the internet. Regardless of the risk, parents can take proper precautions to protect their children and ensure that they do not become victims.

Question Two

Child prostitution is an ever growing problem in the United States with children as young as 12 being exploited. Both girls and boys are at risk for exploitation and put themselves in danger for the purpose of acceptance, love, and money.

The clear trend with exploited children is that prostitution is never their first choice, but rather a decision made out of desperation, typically for money. According to Streetlight USA, a prominent social organization seeking to put an end to child prostitution, the most common factor in children is their home. Most child prostitutes come from homes where they are neglected and abused and surrounded by family with drug and alcohol problems, leading to dangerous situations for the child. As the result, the child runs away from home in an attempt to protect themselves. These children are typically too young to legally earn a living, so they fall victim to sexual predators and become trapped in a prostitution ring.

Another common end result to internet predatory actions is forced child prostitution. According to a study published in the Social Science Computer Review, internet predators will use internet facades to attract and trick children into running away from home and entering a life of prostitution (McCabe, 2007). Many of these predators are also commonly associated with interstate transport of young children for the sex trade industry.

The dangers for child prostitutes are great and serious and include sexually transmitted diseases, physical harm, and even death. The fact of the matter is that the children go off with strangers not knowing what will happen or what that stranger is actually after. Boys and girls are modernly at equal risk for exploitation, given that modern pimps are seeking out both boy and girl prostitutes, and the dangers are the same for both. These dangers are even greater given the lack of care and concern for the life of these children. According to an article published in the Child and Family Law Quarterly, neither the current legal system or the foster care system is adequately staffed and able to protect these children (Barrett, 2003). As stated in the video "Fighting Prostitution in Atlanta," most children must be charged with a crime to even enter into the foster care system and get help.

Question 3

The medical definition for emotional abuse is, "Emotional abuse, mental abuse a form of mistreatment in which there is intent to cause mental or emotional pain or injury; PA includes verbal aggression, statements intended to humiliate or infantilize, insults, threats of abandonment or institutionalization; PA results in stress, social withdrawal, long-term or recalcitrant depression, anxiety" (McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine). The definition of psychological neglect is "a type of maltreatment that refers to the failure by the caregiver to provide needed, age-appropriate care although financially able to do so or offered financial or other means to do so." (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007). While these two definitions clearly lay out two different forms of abuse, they fall short of exploring the reasons behind the abuse and the final result of the abuse. As with many social wrongs, the definitions seem to distract from the issue more than aiding in its correction.

A preferred definition of psychological abuse is any action on the part of an individual to belittle or manipulate another through the use of verbal, physical, or medical neglect that results in permanent damage to the psyche of the child with ramifications within behavior and future decision-making ability. This definition is more fitting because it carefully removes the blame from the caregiver and points to the reality that abuse can come from anywhere, not just the home. Furthermore, in the case of online predators, the abuse is from outside the home, and often is in no way the fault of the child's caregivers. Additionally, this definition supports the conclusions of the multiple studies conducted by physicians as to the impact of this abuse and the fragility of the child mind (Weaver, 2012 & Roemmele, 2011).

Question Four

With sexual abuse within families increasing at an alarming rate, incest is becoming a forefront social concern. Where once the common form of incest was father-daughter abuse, the modern sexualization of society and the emphasis of a homosexual agenda has resulted in increased sexual abuse of mother-daughter and father-son as well. The result of any form of incest is the same within the family, severe psychological damage and harm to the children involved (Lightbourn, 2001).

The primary damage done by any form incest within the home is years of healing. Victims typically blame themselves and consider the abuse their own faults. The result of these thoughts is a refusal to leave the situation and a reentry into similar situations as adults (Engle, 2010). In fact, a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience suggests that the abuse in young children can actually result in a re-wiring of the brain that results in a second generation of abusive behavior (Borg, 2008). The key to preventing such abuse is to ensure that those who were abused are carefully reintroduced into society with their notions of the abuse corrected (Carlson, 2011).

Works Cited

McGrath MG & Casey E (2002). Forensic psychiatry and the internet: practical perspectives on sexual predators and obsessional harassers in cyberspace. Am Acad Psychiatry Law, 30 (1):81-94.

Tynes, Brendesha (2007). Internet Safety Gone Wild? Sacrificing the Educational and Psychosocial Benefits of Online Social Environments. Journal of Adolescent Research, 22(6): 575-584.

Marcum, Catherine (2008). Interpreting the Intentions of Internet Predators: An Examination [END OF PREVIEW]

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