The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Should sex offenders be allowed to use the Internet?

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/23/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,756 times Debate No: 44478
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




Sex offenders are routinely banned from access to the Internet, whether on Facebook or other social sites, or e-mail, or whatever. Should sex offenders be banned, as a group, from access to the Internet?

I'll take the pro. Sex offenders cannot be lumped into one large group and then banned from the most important means of communication ever invented. Such a sweeping ban violates free speech rights. There should be a case-by-case determination as to whether or not a sex offender is a "danger" when it comes to online access. Not all sex offenders used the Internet to commit their crimes, and not all sex offenders are "predators" or dangerous. For example, if an 18-year-old is considered a sex offender because he has a 16-year-old girlfriend (and they're both in the same high school), then why should Facebook ban him? He didn't use the Internet or Facebook to commit a crime, so there shouldn't be any such restriction. Now, if some old man is out trolling the Internet for kids, then he should obviously be banned, or at least monitored. But to deny access to ALL members of group cannot be supported.

The Internet is an important means of communication and research. Education has been shown to prevent crimes. So why cut off access to information?


I happily accept this debate. I will try not to use extremes like "sex offenders should be put on an island and we should slowly leach arsenic into their water supply!

My main argument will be privilege!

To me the Internet is a privilege! To have access to the wealth of information should be seen as such! Sex offenders do not pay for their crimes and many times the victims are not awarded justice! There are several non victimless crimes that demand even more jail time than child molesters!
Illinois: Bill to Create Mandatory Jail Time for Victimless Crimes

Average number of years a sex offender serves of an 8 year sentence3.5 years

That is an insult to every to anyone who serves time for drugs or public-order!

I think the main concern is that they will not be tempted to repeat the same patterns of predatory behavior.. you do not give them access to the best place to reach out to children. It would be like giving a recovering alcoholic a bottle of their favorite scotch!

I think this debate will heavily lean towards classification! How do we determine the level of sentencing or punishment for the degree of the crime? Do we have to look at this without emotion? I hardly believe that is necessary! A predator in society is exactly why prisons and reform restrictions are formed! Are they strict enough? I guess we should discuss the category of sex offender that should receive restrictions (like the Internet)! Is there maybe a compromise where they have monitored use or a program that nannies the allowed websites?

I'm sorry if I ranted instead of gave strong arguments.. but I kind of want to see where you are taking this so I do not bulldog your debate! Obviously I have a lot to say on the subject. I will tell you that I have never been a victim of abuse of any kind (lucky/great parents) So I should definitely (hopefully) Keep emotions at bay for this debate! I am learning (slowly) to be civil so I do not shoot myself in the foot here, so If I come off as crass feel free to let me have it!
Debate Round No. 1


It's OK that your argument was more emotional ranting than factual. That tends to be the case on this topic (or the topic of sex offenders in general).

In the first place, the Internet is not a "privilege." There is no difference between the Internet, a telephone, sending a text message, or sending a letter by postal mail. The telephone is not a "privilege," either. Each of these is simply a tool that can be utilized as a means of communication, period.

You state that the main concern is that they will not be tempted to repeat patterns of predatory behavior. I note that you completely ignored the focus of my topic: that "sex offenders" are lumped into one large group, no matter what their crime was, or the identity of the victim (age, gender, etc.). You immediately jumped to crimes against children, and the mistaken notion that all sex offenders are "predators" who are trolling the Internet searching for more victims. As I pointed out in my original post, not all sex offenses involve the Internet, and not all sex offenses involve children. To lump all offenders into one group, and then say that the entire group should be cut off from modern communication tools, without regard to individuality, undermines the entire purpose of the right to free speech. Restrictions must be based upon the individual harms caused, the type of offense, and an objective risk of future harms. The courts recognize this, and have consistently ruled that if the crime did not involve the Internet, no such restriction may be imposed. However, corrections departments frequently ignore these rulings.

Keep in mind that not all sex offenders are "predators." There is a distinct difference. A sex offender may include, as the example I gave, a high school romance. A sex offender may include two individuals (adult male and female) who got drunk at a tavern. Neither of these examples could be classified as "predators."

This argument has nothing to do with whether or not sex offenders "pay" for their crimes, whether or not the sentences imposed are sufficient, or whether or not justice is served. That is the purpose of our system of justice: the judge and/or jury makes those decisions, and thus that portion of your argument would be better settled in another debate topic. However, I will briefly respond to your concern. You state that this comes down to classification, and you ask how that could be done. One example I have seen from a judge is, IF the offense involves a child, the judge takes the age of the offender minus the age of the victim, and that is the sentence imposed. So, if a 20-year-old has sex with a 15-year-old, then the sentence is 5 years (20 minus 15). That does not mean, of course, a prison term of 5 years, but rather the combined total supervision (prison plus parole) equals 5 years. Obviously there is a HUGE difference between an offender who is 20 with a 15 year old victim, and an offender who is 40 and screwing around with a 5-year-old. We MUST recognize these differences, instead of lumping all offenders into a single category.

You are correct that there compromises, such as monitoring software. This is a useful tool, but only as long as the offender is currently on supervision. Such software is illegal to use on someone who has completed their sentence. That misses the point, however. I will again state, if the sex offense did NOT INVOLVE the Internet in any way, then why should such a restriction (or monitoring) be imposed in the first place?

It is understandable that this is an emotional topic for many people, whether they are victims of sexual abuse or not. But, we have to remember that this is not an issue of emotions. As I have pointed out, access to communications tools and education has been shown to REDUCE the risk of reoffending.


It feels as if this debate might not be what you were hoping for but I will try to entertain you anyways! I did mention that I had felt as though this debate would heavily lean on classifying or evaluating the different level of sex offenders. It would be like if I was 19 and my girlfriend was 17 and graduated. It would really bother me that a few months should determined the difference between me being a rapist! Now under those circumstances regardless of my morality I would have a hard time using extreme measures to punish him. However when you move up the scale. The level of threat that these predators pose is far more important than giving them something that didn't even become mainstream until the late 1990's (to my recollection) So if you are out after 3.5 years after sexually assaulting a child.. yeah "no Internet for you" sounds like a slap on the wrist. So I have a hard time empathizing for their Internet freedoms! A lot of people do not use the Internet. I did not have consistent access until about 8 years ago (Hate satellite Internet btw) I guess I'm just not really getting the issue.

Unfortunately it will not help this debate that we pretty much agree on the issue.. mostly! You should not ban someone from the Internet under not violent or non predatory behavior! My understanding is that its like quitting drugs. You need to change your life radically to fall out of the same self destructive patterns propelled by triggers in your life! So if the Internet was your source to prey on anyone.. yeah you cannot be trusted with access. Again its unfortunate that I accepted this debate only to agree with you.. mostly! Anyways.. my apologies!
Debate Round No. 2


It is much appreciated that you (mostly) agree with me! :-)

Unfortunately, I have seen in my line of work that many people (mostly bureaucrats and politicians) simply cannot or will not look beyond the label of "offender," and think that a one-size-fits-all rule is an adequate solution.

I do agree with you that "predators" (those legally found to be predators, I mean, such as through civil commitment) should be banned, or at least heavily monitored. THOSE are the people who have been found to be unable to control themselves. What I don't agree with is the notion that ALL sex offenders are "predators," when anybody with common sense can clearly see the difference.

I do appreciate the opportunity to debate with you. Thank you.


Finalfan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Finalfan 5 years ago
yeah I take the blame for this. I do apologize for wasting pro's time. I agree with paigeb that I could have taken the time to dig deeper into this topic. When I accepted this debate I thought it would be interesting to play devil advocate but realized that I am too much of an anarchist to really believe that you should consider all sex offenders to be equal. Either way I'm glad the debate did not drag on so you could focus on your other debates @kaufman
Posted by kaufmanj1973 5 years ago
I didn't take the "con" in this debate. The question wasn't whether sex offenders should be banned, but rather should access be allowed. I am "pro" for allowing access -- within limitations, based on the type of offense and the history of the offender, rather than lumping all offenders into one huge group and then saying "HANDS OFF THE COMPUTER!"
Posted by Ragnar 5 years ago
Really depends on a lot of factors. Certainly anyone who preyed on people via the internet, should lose such privileges; yet decreased job access for lesser cases is hard to argue in favor of.
Posted by toamatt26 5 years ago
Hey buddy, you are "taking pro" yet stating Con reasons.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by paigeb 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: In the beginning, I believed that sex offenders should not have access to the internet. Pro did state they cannot be lumped together, which is true, but the question would still allow all sex offenders have all access. I would of agreed in the pro side in the beginning if there was a more specific target of what degree of the crime could be liable for use of the internet. (For example, a high school romance instead of all sex offenders, like online predators.) After the debate, I did agree with pro, and gave them the points for more convincing arguments, for the reasons that con did end up agreeing. (I would of loved if con tried harder to find information or statistics of how many sex offenders are "high school romances" or actual extreme cases or what not.) I think trying to debate the side you do not believe in is the best way to become more informed. In the end, I had to go with pro, since con agreed with the opponent and forfeited.