July 8, 2013

Kids today moral panic

Stuff has a story with the headline “More kids committing sexual abuse” and the lead

Easy access to increasingly hardcore pornography and the sexualisation of childhood are being blamed for a rise in the number of children sexually abusing each other.

However, if you actually read the story, the only real information is on number of prosecutions, and

 Police say the jump in prosecutions was due to better knowledge and increased reporting of sexual abuse, rather than a rise in incidents.

No other evidence or expert opinion is given to support the claim of a real increase in abuse, which seems to be entirely made up.

And while on the subject of factchecking, Netsafe chief technology officer Sean Lyons is quoted as saying

“You type ‘kiwi chicks’ into Google and the images that come back won’t be small feathered birds.”

I tried this. On the first page of results, eight links and the only image displayed were for small feathered birds, one was to a museum project “‘Kiwi Chicks: New Zealand Girl History/Ngā Kōhine Kiwi: He Hitori Taitamāhine o Aotearoa’”, and one was to a page at TheRockFM, which might offend some people but is not anything shocking for kids.

I got basically the same page using lmgtfy.com in a browser not logged into any Google services, so it isn’t just my pure and innocent search history that’s biasing the results.


Update: here’s the first screenfull of results from a Google image search for ‘kiwi chicks’



Thomas Lumley (@tslumley) is Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. His research interests include semiparametric models, survey sampling, statistical computing, foundations of statistics, and whatever methodological problems his medical collaborators come up with. He also blogs at Biased and Inefficient See all posts by Thomas Lumley »


  • avatar
    Thomas Lumley

    It gets worse. @GraemeEdgeler points out that, contra Stuff, you can’t actually prosecute an 11yr old for sex crimes under NZ law.

    4 years ago