Techno-hussies and innocent children just enjoying the latest method to socialize with their friends are falling victim because they are sharing very personal, often provocative and trashy information on MySpace.com, which is quickly becoming a sexual predators playground.
So rampant are the reports and allegations linking sex-crimes and even murder to activity on MySpace that producers at America's Most Wanted are looking into the connection. But parents shouldn't need any more evidence or excuses - you've got to talk with your kids about online safety, and take measures to protect them. A sampling of the current cases under investigation should be enough to take decisive action today:
- In February, a 14-year-old New Jersey girl was found dead in a dumpster after arranging a meeting with a stranger on MySpace.
- A 15-year-old California girl was abducted in December and found murdered in January. Her MySpace page included personal contact information and lots of activity.
- Hartford, Connecticut officials are investigating eight sexual assault cases after teenage girls met men on MySpace.
- In Lafayette, Louisiana four teen girls were sexually assaulted by a local pervert who found them on MySpace.
- In another Louisiana case a predator lay in wait for a teen girl in the parking lot of her place of employment, which he had found on her profile page.
Kids and adults alike have got to understand that their information on MySpace can viewed around the world by anyone at anytime - but the danger lies in the fact that although the web is "world wide", it is also very local.
Here's what I mean: I typed in my zip code on MySpace and in seconds up popped 75 pages, with 40 entries each, of 18-30 year old single women who said they are seeking a relationship - and every one of them lives in my zip code. It's important to note that I only searched for entries with photographs - and boy, did I get photographs, one was just of a girl's breasts; most were provocative; and virtually everyone of them appeared to be between 12-25 years old. (MySpace claims only those 14 and older can use the site, but all a user has to do is lie about their age).