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Online Victimization

From August 1999 to February 2000, the Crimes Against Children Research Center conducted a survey of 1501 American youth who use the Internet regularly.  The centers researchers interviewed a nationally representative sample of youths between the ages of 10 and 17.

     The Youth Internet Safety Survey asked respondents about four kinds of victimization.  Their definitions are as follows:

        Sexual Solicitation and Approaches Requests to engage in sexual activities or sexual talk or give personal sexual information that were unwanted or, whether wanted or not, were made by an adult.

        Aggressive Sexual Solicitation Sexual solicitation involving offline contact with the perpetrator through regular mail, by telephone or in person or attempts or requests for offline contact.

        Unwanted Exposure to Sexual Material Without seeking or expecting sexual material, being exposed to pictures of naked people or people having sex while doing online searches, searching the web, opening e-mail or e-mail links.

        Harassment Threats or other offensive behavior (non-sexual solicitation) sent online to the youth or posted on line about the youth for others to see.

The youth who participated in the survey used the Internet at least once a month for the preceding six months.  Males made up 53 percent of the respondents, women 47 percentage.  Twenty three percent of those surveyed were non-Hispanic whites, 10 percent African Americans, three percent American Indian and native Alaskan, three percent Asian, two percent Hispanic whites, seven percent other and two percent who did not answer.

The survey indicated:

        Approximately one in five (20%) received a sexual solicitation or approach over the Internet in the last year.

        One in 33 received an aggressive sexual solicitation a solicitor who asked to meet them somewhere, called them on the telephone, sent them regular mail, money or gifts.

        One in four had unwanted exposure of pictures of naked people or people having sex in the last year.

        One in 17 was threatened or harassed.

        Less than 10 percent of sexual solicitations and three percent of unwanted exposures were reported to law enforcement authorities, an Internet service provider or hotline

        About one-quarter of the youth who encountered sexual solicitation or an approach told a parent.

        Almost 40 percent of those reporting an unwanted exposure to sexual material told a parent.

According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, the results of the survey suggests that youth encounters substantial quantity of offensive episodes, most of which are unreported.

Parents should discuss this behavior with their children to increase the level of reporting.  Authorities must put in place systems to better shield young people from its likely occurrence, provide help to youth and families to protect them from any consequences and reduce the quantity of offensive behavior.

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