The task force, led by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, looked at scientific data on online sexual predators and found that children and teenagers were unlikely to be propositioned by adults online. In the cases that do exist, the report said, teenagers are typically willing participants and are already at risk because of poor home environments, substance abuse or other problems.
Not everyone was happy with the conclusions. Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general, who has forcefully pursued the issue and helped to create the task force, said he disagreed with the report. Mr. Blumenthal said it "downplayed the predator threat," relied on outdated research and failed to provide a specific plan for improving the safety of social networking.
"Children are solicited every day online," Mr. Blumenthal said. "Some fall prey, and the results are tragic. That harsh reality defies the statistical academic research underlying the report."
Of course, lots of tragic things happen every day. The question is, how common are these tragedies, and is a good use of public resources to try to prevent a specific type of tragedy, as opposed to others that might be more common or more susceptible to public policy intervention. If the research is outdated or misconceived, that's one thing. But the idea that a "harsh reality" exists that somehow trumps actual data is typical of political scare-mongering.