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Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) List Serve

Database of Past CMRL Messages

Welcome to the database of past Child-Maltreatment-Research-L (CMRL) list serve messages. The table below contains all past CMRL messages (text only, no attachments) from Nov. 20, 1996 - December 22, 2017 and is updated quarterly.

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Message ID: 9477
Date: 2013-11-01

Author:D F MCMAHON

Subject:RE: laws against online grooming?

It's been several days since I looked at the post about the Virginia law. It encompassed depictions (such as cartoon images) that would not be illegal under existing child porn laws, and fact is that such images would provide a fairly clear demarcation between behavior that was aiming towards sexual contact and "friending" behavior that may not--or may--contain an ultimate but hidden sexual intent. Even then, one could imagine inadvertent contact resulting in prosecution (accidentally forwarding an adult "dirty joke" email to a child?) in the right (or wrong) confluence of circumstances. But it seems like, more the most part, a pretty good trigger. If someone has been charged with any actual sex offense involving children, that individual would ordinarily be barred from contact with most children, making any "friending" behavior prosecutable pending prosecution or, if convicted, after disposition. Outside of that or the images described in the Virginia law? I think you're talking about an imaginary universe. Sheri McMahon ND ________________________________ Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2013 14:49:17 -0400 Subject: Re: laws against online grooming? From: camillecooper@protect.org To: child-maltreatment-research-l@list.cornell.edu I don't think you can make grooming illegal per se. It would have to result in criminal sexual conduct. We went round and round and the only way we could do it in Virginia was to make it an additional charge that could be added to other charges involving enticement, cp or csa as "an intentional act in the commission of..." type scenario. On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 2:39 PM, Edward Opton > wrote: Joan Crowley is right. An “anti-befriending” law would catch very, very few criminals because proof would be exceedingly difficult, but it would entrap many innocent adults whose lives would be ruined by the expense of defending themselves. From: bounce-109816890-12782768@list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-109816890-12782768@list.cornell.edu ] On Behalf Of Joan Crowley Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 11:23 AM To: Child Maltreatment Researchers Subject: Re: laws against online grooming? I am concerned about these laws prohibiting genuine friending behavior. You are specifying that you want to criminalize befriending for "the purpose of lowering the child's inhibitions", but how do you measure that purpose? What if Uncle Joe really wants to help a niece he sees as isolated and depressed? How do you separate those messages from Uncle James who is sexually interested in that niece? The messages of support could be taken in this context as being grooming, whether it is or not. Worse, someone who is a potential positive mentor for a child could be inhibited from providing support for fear of being charged. My husband was a high school teacher, and he could not pat a kid on the back because it might have been misinterpreted. He was also leery of being alone in a room with a female student, lest he be accused of sexual misconduct. In protecting kids from sexual abuse, are we cutting them off from reaching out to trusted adults? If you want to protect kids from unhealthy sexual experiences, I think it is safer and more effective to focus on behavior with actual sexual content. Joan Crowley On Oct 29, 2013, at 10:18 AM, Tom Hanna wrote: I appreciate seeing the Virginia law on grooming. Note that the Virginia law pertains to depictions of sexual acts being transmitted to children. It makes no mention of the specific phenomenon of online grooming, but online transmission would be covered under this law. As a working definition, Child grooming comprises actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child for the purpose of lowering the child's inhibitions and preparing the child for sexual assault or exploitation. This is the online behavior that is so concerning. Given what grooming actually is as a human behavior, the framing of such a law might be quite a challenge. I look forward to examples of state laws that directly address online grooming. -- Tom Hanna 607-275-9360 (w) 607-227-4524 (c) ________________________________ From: bounce-109811950-6831996@list.cornell.edu [bounce-109811950-6831996@list.cornell.edu ] on behalf of Camille Cooper [camillecooper@protect.org ] Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:52 AM To: CHILD-MALTREATMENT-RESEARCH-L Subject: Re: laws against online grooming? Lisa, We helped pass an online grooming law in Virginia in 2012. Here is the code section: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?121+ful+CHAP0624 Camille Cooper PROTECT 828-318-6382 On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 5:04 AM, Lisa Fontes > wrote: Dear Colleagues, Argentina and Chile are both considering laws regarding online grooming (for sexual abuse) as offenses separate from sexual abuse. For my colleagues in those countries, I would be grateful for any information about--links for, text of--similar laws in other countries including the United States. My colleagues and I would also be interested in your opinions of the efficacy of these laws. Feel free to respond off=list to me at LFontes@ rcn.com . responses in ENglish, Spanish or Portuguese are all fine. Thank you! Lisa Fontes, Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, amherst. -- Camille Cooper Director Legislative Affairs PROTECT www.protect.org 828-318-6382 http://about.me/camillecooper -- Camille Cooper Director Legislative Affairs PROTECT www.protect.org 828-318-6382 http://about.me/camillecooper

It's been several days since I looked at the post about the Virginia law. It encompassed depictions (such as cartoon images) that would not be illegal under existing child porn laws, and fact is that such images would provide a fairly clear demarcation between behavior that was aiming towards sexual contact and "friending" behavior that may not--or may--contain an ultimate but hidden sexual intent. Even then, one could imagine inadvertent contact resulting in prosecution (accidentally forwarding an adult "dirty joke" email to a child?) in the right (or wrong) confluence of circumstances. But it seems like, more the most part, a pretty good trigger. If someone has been charged with any actual sex offense involving children, that individual would ordinarily be barred from contact with most children, making any "friending" behavior prosecutable pending prosecution or, if convicted, after disposition. Outside of that or the images described in the Virginia law? I think you're talking about an imaginary universe. Sheri McMahon ND ________________________________ Date: Tue, 29 Oct 2013 14:49:17 -0400 Subject: Re: laws against online grooming? From: camillecooperprotect.org To: child-maltreatment-research-llist.cornell.edu I don't think you can make grooming illegal per se. It would have to result in criminal sexual conduct. We went round and round and the only way we could do it in Virginia was to make it an additional charge that could be added to other charges involving enticement, cp or csa as "an intentional act in the commission of..." type scenario. On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 2:39 PM, Edward Opton > wrote: Joan Crowley is right. An “anti-befriending” law would catch very, very few criminals because proof would be exceedingly difficult, but it would entrap many innocent adults whose lives would be ruined by the expense of defending themselves. From: bounce-109816890-12782768list.cornell.edu [mailto:bounce-109816890-12782768list.cornell.edu ] On Behalf Of Joan Crowley Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 11:23 AM To: Child Maltreatment Researchers Subject: Re: laws against online grooming? I am concerned about these laws prohibiting genuine friending behavior. You are specifying that you want to criminalize befriending for "the purpose of lowering the child's inhibitions", but how do you measure that purpose? What if Uncle Joe really wants to help a niece he sees as isolated and depressed? How do you separate those messages from Uncle James who is sexually interested in that niece? The messages of support could be taken in this context as being grooming, whether it is or not. Worse, someone who is a potential positive mentor for a child could be inhibited from providing support for fear of being charged. My husband was a high school teacher, and he could not pat a kid on the back because it might have been misinterpreted. He was also leery of being alone in a room with a female student, lest he be accused of sexual misconduct. In protecting kids from sexual abuse, are we cutting them off from reaching out to trusted adults? If you want to protect kids from unhealthy sexual experiences, I think it is safer and more effective to focus on behavior with actual sexual content. Joan Crowley On Oct 29, 2013, at 10:18 AM, Tom Hanna wrote: I appreciate seeing the Virginia law on grooming. Note that the Virginia law pertains to depictions of sexual acts being transmitted to children. It makes no mention of the specific phenomenon of online grooming, but online transmission would be covered under this law. As a working definition, Child grooming comprises actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child for the purpose of lowering the child's inhibitions and preparing the child for sexual assault or exploitation. This is the online behavior that is so concerning. Given what grooming actually is as a human behavior, the framing of such a law might be quite a challenge. I look forward to examples of state laws that directly address online grooming. -- Tom Hanna 607-275-9360 (w) 607-227-4524 (c) ________________________________ From: bounce-109811950-6831996list.cornell.edu [bounce-109811950-6831996list.cornell.edu ] on behalf of Camille Cooper [camillecooperprotect.org ] Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 10:52 AM To: CHILD-MALTREATMENT-RESEARCH-L Subject: Re: laws against online grooming? Lisa, We helped pass an online grooming law in Virginia in 2012. Here is the code section: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?121+ful+CHAP0624 Camille Cooper PROTECT 828-318-6382 On Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 5:04 AM, Lisa Fontes > wrote: Dear Colleagues, Argentina and Chile are both considering laws regarding online grooming (for sexual abuse) as offenses separate from sexual abuse. For my colleagues in those countries, I would be grateful for any information about--links for, text of--similar laws in other countries including the United States. My colleagues and I would also be interested in your opinions of the efficacy of these laws. Feel free to respond off=list to me at LFontes rcn.com . responses in ENglish, Spanish or Portuguese are all fine. Thank you! Lisa Fontes, Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, amherst. -- Camille Cooper Director Legislative Affairs PROTECT www.protect.org 828-318-6382 http://about.me/camillecooper -- Camille Cooper Director Legislative Affairs PROTECT www.protect.org 828-318-6382 http://about.me/camillecooper