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Abstract

Media stories about “online predators” who use the Internet to gain access to young victims often give inaccurate impressions of Internet-initiated sex crimes. Most such crimes involve adult men who use the Internet to meet and seduce adolescents into sexual encounters. Most offenders are open about their ages and sexual motivations. Most are charged with statutory rape (i.e., nonforcible sexual activity with victims who are too young to consent). Internet-initiated sex crimes account for a salient but small proportion of all statutory rape offenses and a relatively low number of the sexual offenses committed against minors overall. Victims are often at-risk youths who have previously been abused or have problems in school or at home. Prevention strategies should be developmentally appropriate, target youths directly, acknowledge normal adolescent interests in romance and sex, and provide adolescents with awareness and avoidance skills.

 

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