Why reporters should stop using "predator"

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"The anonymity of the Internet has allowed predators to easily hide or misrepresent themselves." ABC News, August 2017

"Concerns about sexual predators have led communities in 30 U.S. states to adopt laws limiting where registered sex offenders can live." Reuters, November 2015

"Convicted Sexual Predator Allowed to Stay in Hotel During Cancer Treatments" WFTV 9, May 2017 [...]

"Sexual predator" isn't a clinical term that means anything to criminologists or sex-crime researchers. Instead, it's a media construction created after horrific cases of rape and murder in Washington State in the early nineties, as criminologist Jacqueline Helfgott points out in her 2008 book Criminal Behavior: Theories, Typologies and Criminal Justice. Helfgott notes that the term doesn't describe a "homogeneous group of offenders who are predictably dangerous with an identifiable (and treatable) mental illness." Instead, "predator" is a stick of dynamite used by partisans in crusades for ever-more ruthless penalties for people whose sexual offenses run the gamut. [...]

So neutral terms aren't a polite concession when covering sex crime-they're essential to fact-based reporting. A 2014 study asked a group of study subjects about their support for unsparing punishments for "sex offenders" and "juvenile sex offenders." Those tested were much more likely to support harsh policies than a matched group exposed to the more neutral terms "people who have committed sexual offenses" and "minor youth who have committed sexual offenses". As philosopher David Livingstone-Smith demonstrates convincingly in his book Less Than Human, name-calling has a purpose-to depict the targets as subhuman, making it possible for otherwise normal people to support mistreatment, torture, or murder. "Thinking sets the agenda for action, and thinking of humans as less than human paves the way for atrocity," writes Livingstone-Smith.

source: Article < Why Reporters Should Stop Using "Predator" >; www.lifeonlist.org/why-reporters-should-stop-using-predator/; Life on the list; 30 July 2017