Why Is Australia Scaring Parents For No Reason?

Great 2007 article about a $22 million campaign by the Australian government alerting parents to the ostensible dangers their kids face on line. An intrepid Sydney Morning Herald reporter, Michael Duffy, tried to find out what dangers, exactly, kids were being saved from. Well…there was that ONE arrest of a guy, he found. And another 55 charges were filed against others (mostly folks downloading kiddie porn). That’s over a two-year period.

Nonetheless,  “Talking leads to stalking,” warned the campaign. And, “Playing leads to straying.” All of which is a great way to make parents feel terrified about a “stranger danger” that is overblown, to say the least. 

It’s just lovely  when your government spreads fear without cause, and congratulates itself on being so “vigilant.” How about being vigilant when it comes to facts?

19 Responses

  1. Because of fear-mongering like this, that’s why:

    http://www.todaystmj4.com/features/iteam/45752072.html

  2. Australia is home to my favorite warning sign ever, spotted as we headed toward the Great Ocean Road:

    Drowsy Drivers Die

  3. Silly chica, facts are overrated. 😉

  4. Are you serious? ”Talking leads to stalking,” and , “Playing leads to straying.” ???

    Where’s the “cutting your own food leads a fork and knife in the spleen?”

    Good grief.

  5. Maybe Australia should worry more about their skyrocketing non-vaccination rates.

  6. At 19, I moved to Melbourne, Australia from Tennessee, and you do get more Big Brother / Nanny State material like that here a bit. I remember that campaign and its absurdity. What went with it was some filtering service the government was providing or wanting to provide. I never did find out if they had some deal with a company or something.

    It’s really no surprise that a couple of years later the Australian government wants to filter everyone’s Internet, including adults’.

  7. In defence of Australians everywhere A) the 2007 campaign was generally mocked and recognised to be a last ditch effort by the former government to raise the ‘fear’ flag just prior to an election and B) regarding the current idea of filtering the ENTIRE internet (yes, it’s true), our current federal communications minister is generally considered the biggest idiot to ever hold the job and most ISPs in Australia are not participating in the trial and over 100K people have joined the getup campaign against it.

    And the government’s 2007 filtering service (that went along with the scare campaign) was hacked within fifteen minutes by a fourteen year old

  8. Interesting stuff, although I think the title should be “Why Did The Australian Government Scare Parents For No Reason?”

  9. I do love the fact that receiving spam emails were included in the stats to support the statement that “half of all teenagers were contacted by strangers” (cough cough paedophiles).
    Brilliant.

  10. Ah youtube. The gift that keeps on giving.

  11. You have to read this comment.

    See, I posted about that EPIC thread (the mall mother, the one at 200+ comments and counting?) in my journal.

    http://conuly.livejournal.com/1595620.html

    Right, and one of my friends replied back (and I got her permission to crosspost):

    “I was reading a message board about Disney World today (I get a vacation! yay!) and I actually read someone state that if a CM (cast member, aka employee) were ever to address his child directly, he would ensure that he/she was fired, because … no adult should ever be allowed to speak to a child under 13 and his daughter (9, if you’re wondering) has been taught that if any adult ever speaks to her (period) she is to let out an ear-pitching shriek, turn and run immediately to her father and report it. No, I am not kidding.”

    I can only hope my friend got trolled, because otherwise I weep for that poor kid, I truly do.

  12. As others have said, this ad campaign is pure propaganda, designed to scare the sheep into accepting the Government’s ridiculous idea to censor the entire Internet.

    I’m quite capable of monitoring what my children do online, and I don’t need Big Brother looking over my shoulder and telling me, as an adult, what material is or is not suitable for me to read/see.

    In fact, I think it’s about time I sent another email to my MP reminding him of this fact, and letting him know that if this goes ahead, the Federal Labor Party will never again get my vote.

  13. It’s unfortunate though that in the course of arguing that the government has used misleading statistics for their campaign, the author of that article has used misleading statistics as well.

    The whole danger of internet crime is that it’s borderless and notoriously hard to charge or prosecute. So basing his criticism on the fact that only 56 people have been charged is meaningless.

    I completely agree that the fearmongering tactic used is ridiculous (and likely dangerous in itself), and the better approach is to educate the children, not to block out the world. But I would have been much more impressed with this article had he kept the kids in mind while making his argument. It’s not important to know how many prople are charged, it’s important to know how many reports of dangerous behaviour had been made, regardless of the outcome.

    I doubt that number would be high enough to warrant the campaign, but I also suspect it would be higher than 56.

  14. I have come across a few problems with my kids online…….. with them trash talking each other and forwarding lewd jokes to all and sundry by email which I picked up on because I MONITOR my kids net usage.

    We did have a problem last year with my then 14 year old talking to males on chat that she did not know and giving them her email address, but soon sorted that too.

    Parents need to be taught how to sensibly monitor, not scared stupid.

    As for us, we’ve decided that our kids don’t need chat rooms……. problem solved! 🙂 lol

  15. But it must be true… it rhymes!

  16. Mistress B –
    I have a rule of thumb (I constantly break) – never watch children play, it’ll upset you!

    I joke about it because kids don’t play nice and they don’t share. What they do learn to do is negotiate. It starts off rough, but gets better with age. I find if I watch my kid’s play now I constantly want to jump up and get involved. But does my child learn from that? I force myself to not pay attention or not to react. They come to me for help, different story but butting in when no one has asked – I try not to.

    Only for extreme cases – my three year old daughter was punching a six year old boy in the face at a playground after he pushed her off a sand-crane (which she did get in trouble for – while giving her Dad a guilty jolt of pride and mirth) – do I get involved. Maybe Jas is tough & independent because she has to be, while knowing her Dad is one “DAAADDD” away.

    Plus I find if you interfere, they just hide it better – the ‘negotiation’ occurs behind the shed, or up the back of the yard…

    All of the above just really leads me to this comment: I think the same may occur with online – if you watch what they do, it’ll upset you. If you do need to monitor, do it passively and only jump in if you deem it an emergency. Your 14 year old daughter handing out her email address – sounds like a potential issue!

    Banning chat rooms? HA! If their friends are using them, they’re just hiding it from you better…

  17. I don’t generally get involved in my kids skirmishes – my most often said line in response to yelling or screaming is “take it outside and sort it out”

    I don’t sit on their shoulders and watch them while they are online either, but the pc’s are in main living areas where anyone can walk past or glance around and see what’s on the screen. Their rule of thumb is “if mum or dad can’t see it, then you shouldn’t be doing/saying/looking at/writing it”

    BUT – having access to computers and the internet is a PRIVILEGE in this house not a right – they want to get online and screw around sending jokes to each other that would make my hubby blush or swearing at each other in chat rooms then I’m going to revoke that privilege.

    It’s no different to letting them walk to their friend’s houses or down the street and them not telling me if they changed their plans or were running late then facing the consequences.

    They are still children (as much as they like to think they are adults) and still need boundaries while they learn to make them for themselves.

    Chat software has been removed or disabled and they do not have administrative privileges to turn it back on or install new ones etc and online based chat servers blocked. Banning chat – you just watch me!

  18. Will back to read your other useful post😉

  19. Can I just say, drowsy drivers do die…. micro sleeps are one of the biggest killers, so I think that people stopping every two hours to stop and revive themselves with a cup of tea and to break that white line fever is a good thing🙂

    Other than that minor comment, this campaign was brought about by possibly the worst PM we have seen in Australia for a looooooong time. Horrid and fear mongering. Also didn’t get anywhere!

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