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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

In May, the AP Stylebook changed its guidelines for how reporters should refer to people with substance abuse problems. “Avoid words like alcoholic, addict, user and abuser unless they are in quotations or names of organizations,” says the 2017 version.

For those with addictions, that change won’t just shift how they’re portrayed but how they’re treated. A piece by Zachary Siegel in Slate last month noted that even veteran clinicians were more likely to recommend punitive measures for people described as “substance abusers” and rehab-oriented treatments for those referred to as “people with substance abuse disorders.” Even when people’s conditions are the result of personal choices, reporters avoid charged labels—that’s why those with diabetes aren’t described as “sugar abusers,” Siegel says.

So it’s time for editors to stop letting reporters use “predator” in describing those who’ve committed sexual offenses.

“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…

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