The proliferation of computer technology and
emergence of the Internet has enhanced the lives of children
and adults. Increasing productivity and efficiency, the Internet
is a powerful educational tool, and it provide youths a vast
amount of information. That said, it is important to remember
that the Internet can also be very dangerous. Criminals are
using modern technology to prey on innocent victims.
According to research, one in five youths, ages
10-17, were approached online sexually or were sexually solicited.
The tool for the solicitation was the Internet. In fact, 89%
of those solicitations occurred via chat rooms or with predators
using instant messaging. Additionally, nine out of ten children
online, ages 8-16, have viewed pornography online. In most
cases the children unintentionally encountered pornography
while searching for an alternate item, but the statistic is
In many ways, the Internet has made the predators
job easier, as the predators can hide behind pseudonyms and
screen names. The danger of the Internet is persistent and
very real because the Internet provides predators anonymity.
Online victimization differs little from traditional victimization
that happens in person, the process is essentially the same.
The perpetrator uses information to target a child. Often
solicitation begins in the form of friendship, sharing hobbies
and interests. The predator then adapts the persona of who
their young victim wants them to be. Online predators will
often spend considerable time befriending a child. The predator
builds a level of trust with the victim.
No family is immune to the possibility that
their child will become an online victim. Older children are
at an increased risk, because they are often online unsupervised.
Teens or adolescents, who are particularly rebellious or searching
for their identity, are often more susceptible to Internet
Sadly, in almost all cases the interaction begins
as a harmless camaraderie and it evolves into inappropriate
sexually explicit conduct. Online crimes often transcend jurisdictional
boundaries, making it difficult to prosecute or even track.
And while cross-agency support has been growing, its growth
can not keep up with the abundance of online crime. The Internet
has no boundaries, and there is not a centralized legal body
regulating crime on the Internet.
Remember, physical contact between a child and
perpetrator does not necessarily need to occur for a crime
to have been committed. In many cases, digitally explicit
material is emailed back and forth. Educating our children
is critical to keeping them safe.
If you are aware of an incident that involves
child exploitation via the Internet contact the National Center
for Missing and Exploited Children at 800.843.5678.
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts.
In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net
a wireless text messaging software company.