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ASACP Responds to Study of Threats to Children Online


ASACP Responds to Study of Threats to Children Online

By: Edward Duncan, www.avn.com
Friday, 01/15/2009

LOS ANGELES - The Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection(ASACP) has responded to the report published this week by a Harvard-based research group about threats to children online. CEO Joan Irvine told AVN Online ASACP agrees with the study's conclusion that there is no "silver-bullet" technical solution to online child safety concerns.

"ASACP has always believed it takes an entire community to protect children," she said. "A reliance on mandatory age verification could actually leave our children less protected online. Instead, a multi-layered approach encompassing education, empowerment and enforcement would be a more effective method of keeping kids safe."

Irvine said the adult industry stepped up and did its part by participating in the creation and implementation of the Restricted to Adult label (RTA), which launched in 2006 and now includes more than 5.3 million page link-ins.

But she stressed that it's only part of a solution, which also includes recognition of the label by parental control systems by parents. To that effect, ASACP created a series of public service announcements and the most recent one was released this month, as reported by AVN Online.

"We have always known that no matter what the industry and mainstream did, no matter how many programs were available, no matter how many laws were passed, no matter how much education, that it always comes down to the parents taking responsibility," Irvine said, citing the failure of the V-chip as an example.

"ASACP believes that it is essential that we provide the tools parents need in order to protect their children online," she said. "However, no amount of age verification and parental filtering will ever be able to make up for good parenting."

Putting aside the RTA label, age verification and parental filtering systems in place, Irvine strongly believes parents need to talk to their kids first and foremost.

"A parent would never send a child outside without telling them to look both ways before cross the street; therefore parents also need to talk to their children before they let them loose on the web," Irvine said.

Irvine is also wary of studies that subvert data to serve a socio-political agenda.

"At the Family Online Safety Institute, it was discussed that many people used child safety on the Internet as a way to create fear among parents and legislators," she said.  

"In reality, there was never any proof that children are less safe online than offline," she added. "In fact, there is proof that it is the same offline 'at-risk' children who are at-risk online. And it is very difficult to reach to the parents of these at-risk children."

Irvine suggested reaching those parents through education at the schools.

"It would be best if the government would use the money for child protection to fund these programs. There are many government agencies that exist because of this fear," she said. "Hopefully when Obama goes ‘line item by line item' to reduce government spending, he will reallocate the money to schools for parental and child education."

Additionally, Irvine told AVN Online the most valid issues regarding child safety on the Internet are centered around social networking sites, chat rooms and such, not adult sites.

"The major problem is children are ‘sexting' with each other and cyber-bullying on their cell phones," she said.

For further information, visit ASACP.