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Approximately one in seven youth ages 10-17 have received a sexual solicitation on the Internet, according to research published by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Youth.
The study, which compared the online victimization of more than 1,500 young people across the United States from 2000 to 2006, showed an increase in the amount of children’s exposure to sexual material through the Internet in addition to an increased level of online harassment.
“While we strongly believe in the power of the Internet to provide valuable information for those of all ages, we also believe children need extra attention and guidance as they venture online, because they, more than any other group of the population, are most vulnerable to risks found on the Internet,” the report stated.
The report also found that:
One in three (34%) youth experienced unwanted exposure to sexual material through the Internet compared to one quarter in 2000
Online harassment increased by three percent for one in eleven youths
Similarly, the report stated that “while a smaller proportion of youth overall received unwanted sexual solicitations, the proportions who received aggressive sexual solicitations, the ones most likely to evolve into crimes, did not decline.”
Child experts cite that one of the reasons online predation is up is due to social networking sites such as MySpace and FaceBook, which allow people to meet new friends via the Internet. Although these sites were designed to allow people from around the world to connect with each other by posting personal photos and information, they have been used as tools of victimization by predators looking to engage in unlawful acts with children, who do not always realize their own vulnerability.
Recently MySpace released a list of more than 7,000 sex offenders that it had removed from its site.
New information from the site, though, now claims there are more than 29,000 sex offenders registered on the site, more than four times the number that the company found less than two months ago (Information Week).
Although the report claimed that a smaller proportion of youth received unwanted sexual solicitations, exposure incidents that were extremely upsetting to youth—including distressing exposures— increased.
The report maintained that due to the increase in profitability, the quantity of Internet pornography available has increased in five years.
“There are seemingly large profits to be made from online sexual material and web sites featuring sexual material appear to have proliferated,” it said.