Thursday, January 18, 2007

Parents: Stop Suing MySpace; Start Doing YourJob

It seems like this happens every few months--somebody is suing MySpace for something-or-other. Here's the latest:
Four families have sued News Corp. and its MySpace social-networking site after their underage daughters were sexually abused by adults they met on the site, lawyers for the families said Thursday.

The law firms, Barry & Loewy LLP of Austin, Texas, and Arnold & Itkin LLP of Houston, said families from New York, Texas, Pennsylvania and South Carolina filed separate suits Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging negligence, recklessness, fraud and negligent misrepresentation by the companies.

“In our view, MySpace waited entirely too long to attempt to institute meaningful security measures that effectively increase the safety of their underage users,” said Jason A. Itkin, an Arnold & Itkin lawyer.

The families are seeking monetary damages "in the millions of dollars," Itkin said.

"Hopefully these lawsuits can spur MySpace into action and prevent this from happening to another child somewhere," he said.
Read the whole thing. While I certainly feel bad that the girls were assaulted, I have to wonder why the parents are getting all riled up now, when they should have been monitoring their daughters' computer use in the first place, and they certainly should have known where their kids were headed when they went off to the encounters with the people they "met" online.

Sure, some people would say, "But I can't monitor my kids all the time!" My response would be, "Why can't you? Isn't that your job?" As I've said before, I hold parents to pretty high standards, mostly because my own parents set the bar so high. They weren't by any means perfect in their upbringing of me, but their behavior was always something that could be respected. Even though I don't have kids yet myself, I have some very good role models to draw from.

To me, being a parent is our highest possible calling as human beings. We're doing God's work on earth. And for someone to abdicate that responsibility and then blame others when things go awry is just wrong. I wondered how many people shared my opinion on this, so I checked out the MSNBC message board for this story (requires Firefox or IE to read), and the second commenter pretty much nailed it:
Ridiculous. A typical case of something horrible happening to kids and parents looking for someone to blame besides the actual person that assaulted the children. Maybe if the parents took an interest in their children's lives, the parents would have known the kids were on myspace and would have monitored them effectively. Now the parents want to sue a website that has worked with law enforcement officials and has done everything possible in the internet world to warn minors of the dangers that could be out there. Typical finger pointing.
So come on, parents; what kind of example are you setting for your kids if you don't even own up to your own responsibility for what happened? Will suing a website that just happens to be owned by a deep-pocketed corporation really get you what you want? Talk to your kids; get to know them. Know who they hang out with. And if, God forbid, something bad happens to them in part because of your negligence or inactivity, please be man (or woman) enough to shoulder some of the responsibility rather than just trying to blame everyone else.

UPDATE: The Dallas Morning News editorial board agrees with me.

This house is such a castle...really: Want to buy Dracula's castle? It's for sale for the low, low price of $7.8 million. Oh, and you'd have to live in Romania...

Tour de Nowhere: An Illinois man may have earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records by riding his stationary bike for 85 hours last weekend.

Just call it the Church of St. Madison Avenue: A Los Angeles church had the statement "YOUR AD HERE" projected onto its side for several hours last week. But they weren't coming up short at the offering plate; the ad was a piece of guerrilla art done by a local man who's known for such things. The funniest part? The city was annoyed with him for not having a permit...

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