Internet-initiated sex crimes against minors involve deceit and violence, and begin with adult strangers known as internet predators communicating with children and young teenagers over the Internet and sometimes then meeting face to face.
Cases involving stalking, violence, abduction, rape and/or murder are very rare. Most online sex offenders are young adults who target teens and seduce victims into sexual relationships. They take time to develop the trust and confidence of teens, so the teens see these relationships as romances or sexual adventures. Nearly 75 percent of victims who met offenders face-to-face did so more than once. Most of these offenders are charged with crimes such as statutory rape for non-forcible sexual contact as the victims are, by law, too young to consent. The youth most vulnerable to online sex offenders have histories of sexual or physical abuse, family problems, and tendencies to take risks both on- and offline. A 2007 study, found no cases of minors being targeted by internet predators on the basis of information they had posted on social networking sites. The research that concluded the statistic that "1 in 5 children are sexually solicited online" is being questioned.
Internet predators have initiated actions designed to protect children. Doe v. Shurtleff, 628 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. 2010), was a United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit case assessing the constitutionality of Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-21.5, a law that requires sex offenders to register their internet identifiers with the state in order to "assist in investigating kidnapping and sex-related crimes, and in apprehending offenders". In this case, a convicted sex offender, appearing anonymously as John Doe, appealed a decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah to vacate an order enjoining the enforcement of Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-21.5.
Much of the current strategies emphasize parental control and the dangers of divulging personal information. Parents are instructed to teach children never to arrange face to face meetings with someone they met online, never give out personal information or post photos of themselves online, keep the computer in a common area, use parental controls, know children's passwords and forbid internet usage when the parents are not home. Media coverage suggests that inexperienced young children are vulnerable to internet predators due to naïveté.
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- "Internet Safety: Keeping It Real". Oracle Thinkquest.
- Parenting Tips
- "Online Predators: Help minimize the risk". Microsoft Corporation . 24 September 2008 <http://www.Microsoft.com/protect/family/guidelines/predators.mspx>.
- Williams, Pete (2006-02-03). "MySpace, Facebook attract online predators". MSNBC. Retrieved 2006-12-08.
- Burt, David (2009-03-16). "Playstation Pedophiles". Filtering Facts. Retrieved 2009-03-16. "[G]aming consoles such as PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox have become Internet-enabled, interactive devices. This provides an opportunity for pedophiles to befriend and groom minors."
- Dr. Phil: A Terrifying Ordeal
- Pennsylvania attorney general: cybersafety
- Spreading "1 in 5" Number Does More Harm Than Good, Slashdot, Feb 26, 2008
- Doe v. Shurtleff, 628 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. 2010).
- Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-21.5
- top ten ways to keep your kids safe online