The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (9 July) wonders why online sex stings are booming:
Are stings deterring predators? Or is the Internet creating more of them? And why are so many men — almost all of them white and many well-educated — trolling online for teens when they know they’re being hunted?
The article highlights the work of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, and quotes research by University of New Hampshire sociologist David Finkelhor into what sort of individuals get caught trawling the internet looking for underage sex:
The most recent study by David Finkelhor, a Point Breeze native who heads the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, shows that 91 percent of suspects are white men with full-time jobs. “The people that law enforcement are accessing tend to be your white-collar technical people,” says Mr. Finkelhor. “Minorities are not as represented in that group.” Many are married, too, and police have noticed that in most cases, women stand by their husbands throughout a prosecution.
“Child porn is more accessible, so people are maybe developing a taste for it. There seems to be a market for these images,” said Mr. Finkelhor. “But we don’t have any evidence that it is [creating more predators].”