24 February 2008

US - Study Debunks 'Internet Predator' Stereotypes

Contrary to popular belief, Internet sex predators target teenagers and not young kids, cites a new study. Also, a majority of Internet sex predators are not adults who pose as another youth to victimize children by enticing them to meet then abducting or forcibly raping them. Only 5 percent of online offenders pretended to be teenagers. The study, which was based on three surveys, revealed that Internet sex offenders rarely use force but instead gain the trust and confidence of their victims before seducing them into sexual relationships. The victims of these predators are mostly teenagers who mistake the attention for love. According to the researchers, young people who were most vulnerable to online sex offenders had histories of sexual or physical abuse, family problems, and are adventurous on the Internet or have most likely talked online about sex. The study, 'Online Predators and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment' was conducted by Janis Wolak, JD, David Finkelhor, PhD, Kimberly Mitchell, PhD and Michele Ybarra, PhD, at the Crimes against Children Research Center, University of New Hampshire and published in the American Psychologist.