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Online predator

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A West Midlands Police poster informing children about how to respond to online predators

Online predators are individuals who commit child sexual abuse that begins or takes place on the Internet.


Internet-facilitated crimes against minors involve deceit and begin with adults communicating with children over the Internet with the goal of coercing them into illegal sexual activity. Sometimes the sexual abuse happens face to face.[1][2]

Chat rooms, instant messaging, Internet forums, social networking sites, cell phones, and even video game consoles have issues with online predations.[3][4][5][6] These online areas attract predators because they allow them to have access to make contact with victims without drawing attention.[7] In addition, there is insufficient reliable data concerning the number of minors sharing personal information online due to children's privacy issues.[8] Also, the anonymity of online conversations leads to the disinhibition of minors, making them feel more comfortable and more likely to engage in risky behaviors.[9] This allows predators to use manipulation to put their targets into situations where they will comply with the predator's sexual demands. Initial manipulation often involves introducing the minors to sexual activity, showing them pornography, and requesting sexually explicit information and pictures.[10] This online predatory behavior does not often lead to actual or attempted offline contact,[7] but it could.

Even though it is the mainstream view that predators will use distinct tactics to meet victims, most actual in-person meetings do not involve any deception. In fact, the minors are usually complicit with perpetrators often using promises of love and romance to seduce victims to meet.[11]


In Australia, the murder of Carly Ryan in February 2007 led to public opinion pressure which eventually resulted in nationwide legal changes, nicknamed "Carly's Law", being made in 2017 to help protect minors online.[12] Ryan, aged 15, was a victim of online grooming and predatory behaviour, which was considered unique at the time, given that Ryan was the first person in Australia killed by an online predator.[13][14]

In the U.S., some risks involving online predatory behavior are addressed by the Children's Internet Protection Act, which was passed in 2000.[15] This law required schools and libraries to install filtering and blocking software, to keep students away from obscene and harmful materials and individuals online.[16] A bill called HR 5319 or the "Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006" (DOPA) was later introduced, intensifying the provisions of CIPA.[17] As of 2007, the bill was effectively defeated.[18]

Some individuals have also initiated actions against laws 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".[19][20] In this case, a convicted sex offender, appearing anonymously as John Doe, appealed a decision Archived 2014-01-04 at the Wayback Machine 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.


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 often have histories of sexual or physical abuse, family problems, and tendencies to take risks both on- and offline.[citation needed] A 2007 study found no cases of minors being targeted by Internet predators on the basis of information they had posted on social media. The research that concluded the statistic that "1 in 5 children are sexually solicited online"[21] is being questioned.[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Internet Safety: Keeping It Real". Oracle Thinkquest. Archived from the original on 2013-08-01. Retrieved 2012-12-23.
  2. ^ "[CONTENT] - Parenting Tips". www.ahaparenting.com. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Online Predators: Help minimize the risk". Microsoft Corporation. 24 September 2008.
  4. ^ Williams, Pete (February 3, 2006). "MySpace, Facebook attract online predators". NBC News. Retrieved December 8, 2006.
  5. ^ Burt, David (March 16, 2009). "Playstation Pedophiles". Filtering Facts. Archived from the original on 2009-04-05. Retrieved March 16, 2009. [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.
  6. ^ "Dr. Phil.com". www.drphil.com. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  7. ^ a b Wolak, Janis; Finkelhor, David (December 1, 2013). "Are Crimes by Online Predators Different From Crimes by Sex Offenders Who Know Youth In-Person?". Journal of Adolescent Health. 53 (6). San Diego, California: Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine: 736–741. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.06.010. ISSN 1054-139X. PMID 23890773.
  8. ^ Dobler, Elizabeth; Johnson, Denise; Wolsey, Thomas DeVere (January 23, 2017). Teaching the Language Arts: Forward Thinking in Today's Classrooms. Abingdon, England: Routledge. ISBN 9781351667050.
  9. ^ Dombrowski, Stefan C.; Gischlar, Karen L.; Durst, Theo (May 1, 2007). "Safeguarding young people from cyber pornography and cyber sexual predation: a major dilemma of the internet". Child Abuse Review. 16 (3). Oxford, England: Wiley: 153–170. doi:10.1002/car.939. ISSN 1099-0852.
  10. ^ Lanning, Kenneth (2005). "Compliant Child Victims: Confronting an Uncomfortable Reality". ASPAC Advisor: 14.
  11. ^ Troup-Leasure, Karyl; Snyder, Howard N. (August 2005). "Statutory rape known to law enforcement". Juvenile Justice Bulletin. Washington, D.C.: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
  12. ^ "Criminal Code Amendment (Protecting Minors Online) Bill 2017". www.aph.gov.au. Retrieved 2018-08-23.
  13. ^ "My little girl was killed by an internet predator". Australian Woman's Weekly. September 7, 2017. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  14. ^ "Case 91: Carly Ryan – Casefile: True Crime Podcast". Casefile: True Crime Podcast. August 4, 2018. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  15. ^ Spivet, Bonnie (2011). Avoiding Predators Online. New York City: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc. p. 19. ISBN 9781448864119.
  16. ^ "International Journal of Cyber Criminology- Catherine Marcum". www.cybercrimejournal.com. Archived from the original on 2019-05-25. Retrieved 2019-05-22.
  17. ^ Evans, Meryl (May 31, 2006). "The Pandora's Box of Social Networking". TechNewsWorld. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  18. ^ Essex, Don (Spring 2009). "From Deleting Online Predators to Educating Internet Users". Young Adult Library Services. 7 (3). Chicago, Illinois: Young Adult Library Services Association: 36–45.
  19. ^ Doe v. Shurtleff, 628 F.3d 1217 (10th Cir. 2010).
  20. ^ "Utah Code Ann. § 77-27-21.5". Archived from the original on 28 December 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Pennsylvania attorney general: cybersafety" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 April 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  22. ^ "Spreading "1 in 5" Number Does More Harm Than Good". Slashdot. February 26, 2008.

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