A child predator can be anyone even those most trusted in the community including rabbis, doctors, and teachers. In his book To Catch a Predator, Chris Hansen, the on-air correspondent for Dateline's most successful series, looks into the world of child predators. The book goes beyond the Dateline series to include commentary from psychological and criminal experts about the origins and methods of child predators, and includes advice for both parents and children on how to protect kids on the Internet. Hansen also looks at the methods used for treating child predators. To Catch a Predator presents a strong argument of what some feel is a child predator epidemic and a look at the shortcomings of our systems and society.To Catch a Predator
The book I chose to review for this assignment is entitled To Catch a Predator: Protecting Your Kids from Online Enemies Already in Your Home by author and correspondent for the successful To Catch a Predator series Chris Hansen (Chris Hansen, 2007). Chris Hanson has been the on-air correspondent for NBC's Dateline for the last 12 years. Chris Hansen has also testified before Congress on this issue as a nationally known authority on protecting children from child predators. Chris Hanson with the help from members of an internet watchdog group called Perverted Justice and members of local law enforcement, takes us into the world of child predators to show us how we can protect ourselves and families. Chris Hanson goes into great detail with stories about the parents, children, wives, and families, who have had their lives destroyed by these child predators.
The reason I chose this book is mainly because, of the seriousness of the issue. I feel with the advent of the internet. We are posed with a problem that has already existed but, on a new playing field. It used to be in the days before the internet. The only thing parents needed to tell their children were things such as never talk to strangers never open the door for someone you didn't know, and never walk home alone. Now we are faced with anonymous child predators that are lurking behind fake profiles on social networking sites. And our children are talking to them, not knowing the dangers that are lurking on the other end of that computer connection.
A Brief Summary of Each Chapter
In the introduction Chris Hansen presents a strong argument of what some feel is a child predator epidemic and a look at the shortcomings of the current systems within our society. Statistics cited by some respected child advocacy groups suggest one fifth of children online have been solicited for sex. This phenomenon of men soliciting children online for sex has been called by some to be an epidemic, which is growing. One reason could be with the advent of the internet it has become much easier to surf anonymously. It is also addictive just like a drug. Chris Hanson also discusses a case in which a criminal prosecutor from Murphy, Texas finds himself of the wrong side of the law. Louis William Conradt Jr had been chatting with a Perverted Justice decoy and had made plans to come to the decoy house. Louis Conradt never showed, so an arrest warrant was issued. When the police got to his home to serve the warrant, Louis Conradt was waiting with a gun. As the police approached him, he fatally shot himself.
In chapter one Chris Hansen explains how he came across Perverted Justice and the idea behind To Catch a Predator, along with the back story behind the first two episodes of To Catch a Predator. As Chris starts the book, he explains that he and everyone else at NBC were skeptical that they would have as many people show up during the investigation. But in the entire course of the show 18 men showed up to have sex with whom they thought was a minor. Chris also talks about the lack of use of law enforcement during the first two sting operations.
Chapter two discusses a case that hit close to home for Chris Hanson. It involved a young girl by the name Kacie Rene Woody from Arkansas. Who's father was a police officer as well. Kacie had been chatting online for some time with someone who she thought was a teenage boy. Kacie was befriended by this online predator, after several months of chatting. The predator came into her home one night, took her to a storage facility, and raped her. After he raped her, he shot and killed her. If any chapter is a wakeup call for parents and children, it would be this chapter.
In chapter three Chris Hanson discusses the viewpoints of sex offender advocates Parry Aftab and Bob Shilling and the different ways of how child molesters affect their families and their victim's families.
Chapter four goes into details about the To Catch a Predator investigations in California, which were the first investigations to involve law enforcement. Chapter five discusses the victims of the child predator himself. Like the spouse and children, and what they go through. Chapter six discusses the dangers of all the different social networking sites, such as My Space, Face Book, Xanga, and Bebo.
Chapter seven discusses the Ohio and Florida investigations. In the Ohio investigations, the members of Perverted Justice were temporarily deputized. 18 men in three days were arrested. In Florida 24 men were arrested in a three-day period. Two notable arrests were that of a father who brought is five-year-old son. Another was that of a man who while chatting with a Perverted Justice decoy, had asked if the decoy was willing to have oral sex with a cat. The decoy said yes, but on one condition. The Perverted Justice decoy asked the man to strip naked upon entering the house, so he did.
In chapter eight we hear from a detective named Bobby Grizzard in Massillon, Ohio, who runs sting operations similar to that of To Catch a Predator. He's part of an internet Crimes Against Children Task Force formed in 2002. He goes on to explain that police departments all across the country could be doing the same thing he is doing on a small budget and limited resources. He also talks about how he is starting to see more female sexual predators now.
In chapter nine we are introduced to Dr. Fred Berlin, the psychiatrist who founded the National Institute for the Study, Prevention and Treatment of Sexual Trauma at John Hopkins University. He goes on to discuss how to deal with certain aspects of treating sex offenders, and some of the problems associated with current sex offender laws, and how most of the laws on the books seem more as a "Political Agenda, that only masks the real problem and makes it worse. Dr. Fred Berlin stresses the need to gear the laws more to the treatment side of the problem. Chapter ten describes the investigations in Georgia and Northern California. One of the notable arrests was that of an Army sergeant who had served multiple tours of duty in Iraq.
Chapter 11 is the most important to read for any parents of children. Chris Hansen tells his readers how to approach your children about online safety. Chris also mentions helpful organizations like i-Safe and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. And he tells you about the different software and other safeguards that are available for your computer.
Review and Conclusion
As I stated earlier, I feel that this is an issue that does need to be addressed. It is an issue that affects children all across the globe. We can be thankful for the internet. Some of the things the internet is good for are, education, keeping in touch with others, online shopping, and the list goes on. But we are living in a new age now, whereas, child predators are now using the internet as a means to approach children, and to solicit them for sex. I feel though the internet is something that will be hard to regulate against this problem.
I think Chris Hanson did a fine job in exposing this new threat. One of the advocates mentioned in the book, Parry Aftab even wrote a review on the Amazon web-site, which is where I bought this book. One of the comments she mentioned was "I told Chris that I won't be writing another book for parents about overall cybersafety. He did too good a job in this for me to need to write any more. So, don't buy my book. Buy his (Parry Aftab, 2007).
I would also mention there are few good books that deal with this exact subject.
The success of the book and the television series has come at a price though. There has been much criticism about the actions taken by the undercover operations. There have been allegations of entrapment, and even the family of the Murphy, Texas prosecutor Lois William Conradt Jr. Is in the process of suing. Many sites on the web have said that of all the men arrested in the stings, the conviction rates have been low. But, again and I stress this, Chris Hanson has shed light on a problem that needs attention, and I feel his book has brought this new phenomenon into the "Limelight. I most definitely recommend that any parents of children read this book, and take it to heart, especially the story in chapter two, about Kacie Rene Woody. And by all means talk to your children about it. Don't be afraid to address this issue.
- Chris Hansen. (2007). To Catch a Predator: Protecting Your Children from Online Enemies Already in Your Home. New York: Penguin Group.
- Parry Aftab. (2007, March 18). It will help everyone stay safer and be smarter online. www.amazon.com November 29, 2009, www.amazon.com: http:/?/?www.amazon.com/?gp/?product/?0525950095/?ref=cm_cr_rev_prod_title