29 May 2009

US - Study: Abuse, provocative images increase Internet risks for girls

A history of childhood abuse and use of a provocative online identity increase the risk that girls will be victimized by someone they meet on the Internet, according to a study appearing in the June issue of Pediatrics. A study in Pediatrics sought to identify which risk factors are linked to Internet-initiated victimization of girls. While highlighting the dangers that exist for adolescent girls, the study's authors also offer a word to parents: You can lessen the risks to your children by monitoring their Internet use. The authors sought to identify risk factors connected to increased rates of Internet-initiated victimization of girls. They also wanted to find out whether abuse victims showed increased vulnerability to online victimization. They found that girls are more likely to experience online sexual advances or have offline encounters if they have previously been abused or have a provocative avatar, which is a digital image meant to represent the user online.Those two factors pose a greater risk to adolescents than perhaps more traditionally considered risks, such as Internet naivete and sexual innocence, the study says.