Children do get preyed on, but the reality is far different from the popular perception, according to a panel of leading experts who presented their research to the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus.
Here are some of the realities as presented by these researchers:
Almost no victims are under the age of 13.
The predominant scenario does not involve violence or abduction. Rather, it is a criminal seduction that takes advantage of common teen vulnerabilities.
The predominant scenario does not involve deception. Only 5% of Internet offenders concealed their age from their teen victim. “Eighty percent were quite explicit about their sexual intentions with the youth that they were communicating with.”
Here is what really happens in the typical scenario, according to panelist David Finkelhor, who is probably the most widely recognized expert in this field:
“The offenders lure teens after weeks of conversations with them, they play on teens’ desires for romance, adventure, sexual information, understanding, and they lure them to encounters that the teens know are sexual in nature with people who are considerably older than themselves.”
For a full transcript, including the options of video or audio, go to:
Panelist Danah Boyd has also made available a YouTube video of the panel presentation. See her blog: http://shurl.org/Internet+Panel .