Cybercrime and the Culture of Fear

Introduction to

The conclusion adopted by most criminal justice practitioners and criminologists since the 1990s—that a distinct field of policy and theory referred to as ‘cybercrime’ has emerged—is flawed on both empirical and theoretical grounds. He states that not only is it a construction that depends upon a plethora of dubious statistics; but it also understates the role of State and corporate actors in the production of crimes online. He argues that the ‘cybercrime paradigm’ offers indirect justification for the increasing acquisition of new powers by governments, thereby furthering what has elsewhere been characterized as the ‘control society’. (McGuire 2007, p.18).

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I do not agree with this statement because I believe that continuous use of cyberspace has created new offenses that may not have a place in the traditional criminal setting. These offenses vary in nature and scope as compared to the ones already existing in the statute. The commission of cybercrimes is bound to take a different toll due to continuous usage and adaptation. At least 47 percent of all Australians use the internet on a daily basis (Australian Communication and Media Authority 2009, p.9).

This translates to a field of opportunity for the commission of a crime within cyberspace. These acts of crime differ significantly online as compared to their traditional form due to the distance between the perpetrator and the victim (Wall 2008, p. 7). In addition, the manner in which the crimes are committed deviates from the norm in that it hardly touches on the physical space of the victim although it could infringe the victim’s rights. To this extent, the State and corporate actors do have a role in ensuring that these crimes are given statutory recognition and enforcement.

Growing Up Online

Sexual exploitation and other offenses against children remain tragic—in spite of their frequency—and those numbers have been diminishing since the advent of the internet (Cassell 2008, p.54).

I wholly agree with this statement. The internet cannot be blamed for crimes of a sexual nature perpetrated against girls. Like two sides of the same coin, the internet has brought a wealth of good to the world of technology. The efficiency of the internet mechanism cannot be 100 percent therefore it has equally been used as a means of perpetrating crimes; especially those of a sexual nature.

It is true that girls have been lured into uncompromising-and sometimes detrimental—situations where they have suffered some harm to their person; but this does not mean that it is wholly attributed to the internet. As a matter of fact, the number of single-child offenders who are strangers in sexual offense crimes has reduced significantly since 1994 (Snyder and Sickmund 2006, p.88). 15 percent of all child offenders in Australia were strangers to the victim. The rest were persons whom the victim identified with: 30 percent were male relatives, 16 percent family friends, and 15 percent a neighbor (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005, p. 23).

The situation on the ground depicts a different scenario in that parents have continued to worry about the safety of their teenage daughters as a result of exposure to the World Wide Web. In my opinion, these concerns should not arise because the statistics clearly indicate a decline in the trend of online sexually perpetrated crimes: rape, assault, and kidnappings. From this, it can be seen that the fear of parents and guardians that their children could be molested by a stranger is unfounded.

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The perpetrator of the crime—more often than not—is someone close to the children, a person who is well known by the relatives but least suspected by them all (Australian Institute of Criminology 2011, p.3). It, therefore, defeats the logic that such parents point wholesome blame to the internet—the same technology that has eased so many other aspects of the modern lifestyle: communication, banking, and security.

What is more, the fact that parents and guardians are raising concern and pressuring the government to take more action in legislating laws to control the activities on the internet; is an argument that has seen better days in the book of history. After all, the same concerns were raised in regard to the use of telephones and the telegraph when they first emerged as advances in communication technology.

Identity Online

“Virtual environments allow people to choose different versions of self and to move along wider and context-driven “positioning”. This becomes very evident during on-line interactions with other chatters never met face-to-face. The problem of which self to show during the virtual interaction seems to be a core problem defined inside the occasioned social context where the interaction itself takes place” (Cheung 2007, p. 275).

I find this statement to be accurate because the creation of identities online has become a rampant thing—and more so with the development of various applications that can be used to communicate and interact with other people across the globe. A good example is the social networking site where people become who they want to be merely by the click of a button. They get a chance to “recreate” themselves and correct any mistakes that they think exist in their actual selves. Thus the cyberspace acts as a gateway from the real world into a virtual one.

Social Networking

Boyd (2007, p.16) argues that social network sites are a type of connection with four traits that hardly exist in public life: tolerance, searchability, mimicry, and unknown audiences. Boyd makes an accurate observation that adolescents spend much time trying to figure out how to change themselves in order to conform to the demands of their peers in terms of matching up to their expectations in terms of dressing according to the latest trends in fad, how to talk and conduct themselves in each other’s presence. This is in a bid to find a place among the other adolescents.

I agree with the above sentiments. Cyberspace has allowed the use of the internet by anyone who can operate a computer and find his way through a website. What was initially the domain of the adults has now become a toy for the younger generation who seem to know a lot more about the internet than their parents.

Adolescence is a phase in life where people get to discover who they really are and find ways of being accepted and accommodated into a fast-moving society. There is a lot of pressure to conform to a certain way of lifestyle: appearance has been given the topmost priority, popularity ranks very high amongst peers, and coming from a well-to-do background is an added advantage. A teenager who is disadvantaged on any one or all of these grounds can easily seek comfort through social networking sites; where he or she can create a new self or image.

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All that is needed is a profile of who they would rather be and a fake photo to go with it. In this manner, they get to escape the reality of the actual world and live in their own little utopia. When that bubble bursts, they are forced to face the harsh realities of the physical world. (Edward 2006, p.1).

Reference List

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2005, Personal Safety Survey, CAT no. 4906.0, Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.

Australian Communication and Media Authority 2009, Australia in the Digital Economy: Report 2: Online Participation, DEST no. 2, Communications and Media Authority, Canberra.

Australian Institute of Criminology 2011, Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminology, DEST no. 429, IOC, Canberra.

Boyd, D 2008, Why Youth Love Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life, 2nd and, MIT Press, Massachusetts, US.

Cassell, J 2008, High Tech or High Risk: Moral Panics about Girls Online. Web.

Cheung, C 2007, Identity Construction and Self-Presentation on Personal Homepages: Emancipatory Potentials and Reality Constraints, Routledge, London.

Edward, L 2006, Online Identity Part II: The Notion of Identity as Fluid and Influence of Online Selves. Web.

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McGuire, M 2007, Hypercrime: The New Geometry of Harm, Glasshouse, London.

Snyder, H & Sickmund, M 2006, Juvenile Offenders and Victims, National Center for Juvenile Justice, Washington.

Wall, D 2008 Cybercrime and the Culture of Fear. Web.

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StudyCorgi. "Cybercrime and the Culture of Fear." May 28, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/cybercrime-and-the-culture-of-fear/.

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Cybercrime and the Culture of Fear." May 28, 2021. https://studycorgi.com/cybercrime-and-the-culture-of-fear/.

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