“For a variety of reasons, few of them valid, the child-molester has become the pre-eminent domestic villain of our time,” writes Mark Bowden in Vanity Fair. Bowden details a Philadelphia prosecution to explain the “murky world” of undercover cops’ seeeking molesters on the Internet. A Justice Department program supports 59 investigative units around the nation; last year, they arrested more than 3,100 people. Still, the fear of online child predation has grown far out of proportion to the actual problem.
Supposedly, one in seven children have been approached by a sexual predator on the Internet, says the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Actually, at least half the solicitations are teens approaching other teens. Only 3 percent of contacts are adult strangers attempting to seduce a child. Sexual assaults on teens fell dramatically–by 52 percent–between 1993 and 2005, says the Justice Department's National Crime Victimization Survey. Vanity Fair shows how prosecutions of men who may or may not have any record or real plans of molesting children are able to avoid defenses of entrapment.