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Sex Offenders Banned from Online Games; Laws Work to Protect Children, Families

By Assemblyman Will Barclay
More than 3,500 accounts of New York registered sex offenders were recently banned from online video game venues as part of “Operation: Game Over,” in participation with Microsoft, Apple, Blizzard Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Warner Brothers and Sony.  This is good news for parents and children.

The internet is a wonderful tool.

Our lives have been transformed by the vast technology offered thanks to the internet.  Unfortunately, predators are savvy and can blend into forums, internet ads, and games where they can make friends or prey on innocent and accepting folks and children.  Internet gaming is a popular and growing pastime for many, especially for pre-teens and teenagers.

According to the Pew Research Center, 97% of teens (12-17) play computer, web, portable, or console games and 27% of teens (12-17) play games online with people they don’t know.

Almost all games come with the option to play online.  Playing online is a great feature that makes video-gaming fun and more interactive.  Unfortunately, pedophiles and other exploiters easily misrepresent who they are and can establish direct one-to-one contact with children.

Last week, our laws worked to help stop registered sex offenders from online gaming. The attorney general’s office banned registered sex offenders from these forums. They cannot play such games online.

Convicted sex offenders must register all of their email accounts and online IDs with the Department of Criminal Justice.

That information is then made available to certain websites so they can purge potential predators from their online networks. After the Office of Attorney General approached gaming companies to remove registered sex offenders on their networks, the companies agreed, resulting in 3,500 registered sex offenders removed from the gaming systems in New York.  “Operation: Game Over” is the first time the law has been applied to online video game systems.

According to the Attorney General’s office press release, ‘Operation: Game Over’ coincides with recent incidents of sexual predators using voice and text chat functions in online gaming services to lure underage victims across the country.

Earlier this month, Richard Kretovic, a 19-year-old man from Monroe County, pled guilty to sexual abuse charges after meeting a 12-year-old boy on the popular online video game system Xbox LIVE.

The man gained the boy’s trust over a period of three months, and then invited the boy over to his house where the abuse occurred, according to police.

While our laws are designed to protect children, they are not enough.

Parents should be aware of sexual predators themselves and:

Choose games appropriate for your child’s age and maturity level;

Use your game console’s parental controls (control which games can be played; for how long; and whether they can play online);

Keep computer or game console in a public area of the home; and

Talk to your kids about how to protect identifying information, and to avoid and report conversations that make them uncomfortable.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month

According to the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System’s most recent report, there were an estimated 1,560 child deaths from abuse and neglect in the United States in fiscal year 2010.  There were 436,321 abuse and neglect complaints substantiated by child protective agencies and 24,976 found to be indicated.  The stories and statistics are alarming and horrifying.

Local organizations seek to raise awareness and educate the public through events throughout the year.

Pinwheels are a symbol of child abuse awareness and prevention, and this month, the pinwheels are being displayed throughout Onondaga County, in cooperation with McMahon/Ryan Child Advocacy Site, Onondaga County’s child advocacy center.

To reach this organization, call 315-701-2985 or visit their website at http://www.mcmahonryan.org

In Oswego County, the Child Advocacy Center continues to be a voice for children of sexual, physical and verbal abuse.

They sponsor the Blue Ribbon Ride to raise money and awareness for their cause.  For more information, visit http://oswegocac.org/ or call (315) 592-4453.

For ways to help stop abuse and to help in small ways in your community, visit http://www.preventchildabuse.org/ and click on What you Can Do. To report abuse, call the New York State Child Abuse hotline at 1-800-342-3720.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.  My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling (315) 598-5185.  You may also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.

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2 thoughts on “Sex Offenders Banned from Online Games; Laws Work to Protect Children, Families

  1. Yes, the State bans a whole sub-set of people from the internet and used a NON-sex offender, as proof that sex offenders are using gaming sites to lure victims.

    In fact, that ONE case, as reported by WHAM, the man has Asperger’s syndrome, or a high functioning autism. The man they busted has the emotional development of a 12 year old.

    Stripping the 1st amendment from ANYONE without hearing or appeal and by legislative fiat is ILLEGAL.

    Requiring people to hand over their internet accounts for the sole purpose of sharing that information with internet sites so as they can purge their networks of LEGAL SPEECH is grounds to leave the registry and all registry laws and do whatever what one can do to avoid the registry and registry laws.

    Using a high functioning autistic person as your sole case of sexual abuse on a gaming system, and making him out to be a predator, but who is emotionally 12, in order to justify your laws is, well, typical.

    However, it does NOT make your laws stronger, your registry valid or how the registry is used as credible.

    Police States are so easy to pass and expand. Soon it will be defining aspect of the “land of the free.”

  2. “Operation: Game Over’ coincides with recent incidents of sexual predators…”
    Really? Is this the only story you can dig up to justify the ongoing punishment and banishment of a group of people you don’t like, all in ex-post facto style? You failed to mention one very interesting point: Richard Kretovic WAS NOT A REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER at the time the abuse allegedly took place. This is merely a weak attempt in making this draconian law appear to have some real fiber in it, which in reality has none. Here’s why. The only sex offender this laws is going to affect are the one who are walking hand in hand with the DOJ and trying to comply with all their registration requirement. For example, giving accurate emails and screen names. Therefore you are only punishing a group of people who are trying to do the right thing and trying to get their life in order.

    There are potential sex predators out there that are actually laughing at this new attempt because you just made it one step easier for them to take their next victim. Over 95% of sex crimes committed are by, wait for it….. NON REGISTERED SEX OFFENDERS. So what are you really accomplishing here Mr. Politician?

    There is a real problem in America folks and if you think you are not apart of it because you are not a registered sex offender and you despise sex offenders for their crimes, you are sadly mistaking. It’s called laying the groundwork for something much bigger. But you let this happen, even in the face of professional research and studies that clearly indicate we are walking in the wrong direction by continually pouring on the arbitrary and capricious laws that are in direct violation of our Constitution.

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