Sunday, October 01, 2006

Rep. Foley and Pedophile "Mentoring"

Florida Rep. Mark Foley's story reminds us once again of all the pedophiles out there. Note that the Congressman lyingly told another Congressman he was just "mentoring" the page he harassed.

This reminded us of the volunteer opportunities we saw listed on the "Friends of the Governor's Commission on GLBT Youth" web site. Sure, most of these people are probably OK. But, are we being careful enough? Are Commission members or its "Friends" who volunteer with these vulnerable youth subject to criminal background checks -- as are most parents who just want to go on field trips with their own children's schools? Just asking.

Also over the weekend we encountered the series Oprah is doing on pedophiles (thanks to Americans for Truth). She points us to this NY Times report by Kurt Eichenwald on pedophiles' use of the internet (8-21-06). Pedophiles claim they're struggling to achieve "rights" for children. Excerpts:

Today, pedophiles go online to seek tips for getting near children — at camps, through foster care, at community gatherings and at countless other events. [Like the Youth Pride march and prom?] They swap stories about day-to-day encounters with minors. And they make use of technology to help take their arguments to others, like sharing online a printable booklet to be distributed to children that extols the benefits of sex with adults....

In this online community, 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 adults, a fight they liken to the civil rights movement. And while their effort has brought little success, they celebrated online in May when a small group of men in the Netherlands formed a pedophile political party, and they rejoiced again last month when a Dutch court upheld the party’s right to exist....

In essence, the groups deem potentially injurious acts and beliefs harmless. That is accomplished in part by denying that a victim is injured, condemning critics and appealing to higher loyalties — in this case, an ostensible struggle for the sexual freedom of children.

From summaries of the recent Oprah segments:

Many sexual predators choose to keep their preferences a secret, while others are vocal about their attraction to minors. In 1978, a support group for men who have sexual feelings toward young boys was founded in Boston. It is known as NAMBLA, the North American Man-Boy Love Association. According to NAMBLA's website, members "support the rights of youth, as well as adults, to choose the partners with whom they wish to share and enjoy their bodies." This controversial organization doesn't advocate breaking any laws, and it is not illegal to become a member....

According to Kurt [Eichenwald, NY Times reporter], many online predators believe children have a desire to have sex with adults and that other adults—like parents—force them to "deny their desires."A lot of what passes for advocacy, Kurt says, is simply a smoke screen in these communities. The crime takes place when fantasies translate into real, daily life, he says.

During his investigation, Kurt found predators may have acted upon fantasies in one place where children should feel safe—the classroom. Kurt was shocked to learn through his research that the most common job for pedophiles is teaching. He says one principal said in an online chat that he met his first "YF"—a popular abbreviation for "Young Friend"—when he was sent to his office for discipline.