Unsafe at any age: three threats to America#039;s youth

by Beacon Staff • October 18, 2006

With the recent allegations against Mark Foley (R-Fla.) regarding explicit e-mails he sent to underage male pages, the slew of school shootings this fall and the opening of Facebook.com to anyone on the Internet, young people are becoming less and less safe in their daily lives.,A note to parents in America: lock up your sons and daughters.

With the recent allegations against Mark Foley (R-Fla.) regarding explicit e-mails he sent to underage male pages, the slew of school shootings this fall and the opening of Facebook.com to anyone on the Internet, young people are becoming less and less safe in their daily lives.

ABC News was the only media outlet willing to break the disturbing Mark Foley story after a Louisiana teenager came forward with the provocative e-mails. In their correspondence, Foley asks the teen page for "an e-mail pic," inquires as to whether he made the young man horny and describes another male page as being "in great shape."

In great shape for what, exactly? Getting congressmen their morning coffee?

When pages, who are typically between the ages of 12 and 16, sign up to work in Washington, they are looking for some experience in the real inner workings of the government. What recent pages got was a sex scandal, a cover-up, lies and a lot of hypocrisy-in other words, an accurate look at the United States political scene, as promised.

Beyond Capitol Hill, the protection of young adults is also becoming a thing of the past.

On Sept. 26, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg invited anyone with access to a computer to join the social networking site, once open only to college students.

Carolyn Abram, a Facebook blogger, wrote that day, "[Those who can now join Facebook] includes your friends who graduated pre-Facebook ... your friends who don't have school or work e-mail addresses, and your friends whose schools don't give out e-mail addresses."

The fine print on this means that two types of people will soon be browsing Facebook: 11-year-old girls and the pedophiles who love them.

Hasn't MySpace already filled the Internet creepy quotient?

Most tragically, teenagers aren't even safe in their schools. This fall alone there have been school shootings in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Colorado. There was also a massacre at a college in Montreal. All these incidents resulted in at least one fatality. Victimizing children and young adults should not be this easy.

A congressman should not be able to maintain a suggestive correspondence with pages for over three years while other powerful people pretend not to notice.

Internet predators should not be able to gain access to a virtual registry of high school age kids complete with pictures and locations.

A man with a gun should not be able to waltz into a high school classroom.

Young people are living in an unsafe world, not only because of terrorists from abroad but also because of the ones living here at home.