Last November, Glenn Coyle, 38, a middle school security agent from Brooklyn, boarded an New Jersey transit train carrying handcuffs and a child’s train ticket, says the Newark Star-Ledger. He planned to meet a 13-year-old girl he found at MySpace.com; instead, Coyle was met by police, who charged him with attempted sexual assault of a minor. Police say meetings between adults and teens who connect on Web sites are rising. Free services like MySpace, Xanga, Facebook, and Friendster have attracted millions of young people who swap messages, find dates, and post journals, songs, videos and photos — some provocative. Sexual predators also can find these sites irresistible, and laws and Web filters are no match for the sharks.
“It used to be that kids would have a Web-based e-mail account and they’d put their town on it. Nowadays they put their whole lives out there,” said John Shehan of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Many parents are “clueless about this stuff,” said David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family. Reports of attempted trysts hatched online include: a 27-year-old Maine man having sex with a 14-year-old girl; a 23-year-old Georgian caught in a Minnesota apartment with a 15-year-old girl, fetched by taxi from her school bus stop; a former firefighter molesting a 16-year-old boy in California.