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Online-Initiated Sexual Abuse of Children – Some Troubling Statistics

[profileleft]Sexual Abuse of Children[/profileleft]The sexual abuse of children is a scourge on our society.  We have posted about statistics relating to the sexual abuse of children in general.  We want to go further in our efforts to raise awareness of this issue by delving into how the sexual abuse of children can occur.  One of the common ways that sexual predators can reach children like never before is by way of the Internet.  Web sites, chat rooms and even messaging and texting provide would-be sexual abusers with access to children that is startling in its scope.  One way that parents and concerned adults can help to prevent the sexual abuse of children that begins with technology is to understand some of the statistics that relate to this terrible problem.  The federal government has published data regarding this issue.  Below you’ll find an overview.

The Sexual Abuse of Children via Technology – General Statistics

The Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW) began in 2005 as the National Sex Offender Public Registry, or NSOPR.  The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 renamed the database to its current form.  Dru Sjodin was a 22-year-old woman from Grand Forks, North Dakota.  A sex offender kidnapped and murdered her.  He was registered in Minnesota.  The Web site combines all available data regarding sex offenders into one central location so that people can search more efficiently.

The NSOPW has also published statistics regarding the sexual abuse of children that occurs via the Internet and other technology.  10 examples of thee troubling statistics appear below:

  • 1 in 7 youth Internet users report having received unwanted sexual solicitations.
  • Nearly 10 percent of youth Internet users have been exposed to sexual materials that they consider distressing.
  • 1 out of 25 young people received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make offline contact.
  • More than 25 percent of incidents involved the solicitor asking the young person for sexual photographs of themselves.
  • More than 75 percent of online-initiated sexual abuse of children began in a chat room.
  • 46 percent of predators offered gifts or money to children to his or her targets during the initial stages of the relationship with the child.
  • Only 5 percent of sexual predators told their child targets that they were the same age.  Most were open about the fact that they were older.
  • 15 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 have received text messages that involved nude/seminude/sexually suggestive photos of someone they knew at the time.
  • More than 25 percent of teens state that they have participated in sexting.

These statistics regarding the sexual abuse of children that begins online speak for themselves.  They should prompt parents and any other concerned adults to act.  Anyone interested in seeing additional statistics can find them here.

5 Ideas for Protecting Your Child from Sexual Abuse That Begins Online

Any parent would be concerned after reading the statistics that appear above.  Most parents have already given this issue a lot of thought and many have most likely done research on it.  Obviously, protecting your child from harm is your top priority.  Below you’ll find 5 ideas to keep in mind for protecting your child from sexual abuse that would begin online:

  1. Parental controls – There are apps out there that will allow parents to place some controls on smartphones, tablets, laptops and just about anything else.  Make use of them so that your child is not able to access the ‘darker’ side of the Internet where predators may lurk.
  2. Manage passwords – Assuming your child has a smartphone, is involved with social media and the like, he or she likely has passwords for those accounts.  You need to know your child’s passwords so you can check on those accounts regularly.
  3. Social media involvement – If your child is involved with social media sites, you should follow him or her or become a ‘friend’ of his or hers.  Doing so will simply keep you in the loop with what he or she is posting and/or seeing.
  4. Learn the lingo – The online world has a lot of special characters, abbreviations, emoticons and language in general.  Learn that language so that you can ‘decode’ posts or messages that you see.
  5. Listen to your child – If your child is being sexually abused or is a potential target, he or she may provide clues given how he or she talks.  If your child talks about things differently or just seems ‘off’ in some sort of way, investigate further.

What To Do If Your Child Is Sexually Abused

No parent should have to hear that his or her child has been sexually abused.  Unfortunately, many will in the coming months and years.  Understanding how to deal with this is extremely difficult.  StopItNow.org has provided some ideas for parents who face this terrible situation.  These ideas include:

  • Remain calm and steady – This may seem impossible right now, but the fact that your child is coming to you is an enormous step.  Many children never report sexual abuse.  You need to reassure him or her that he or she will be OK.  Reassure your child that you will be his or her protector.
  • Believe your child – Children rarely tell false stories of being sexually abused.  Even if the story is difficult to believe, do not discount it or refuse to believe it, as this will send your child into a shell that could lead to much worse harm.
  • Make your child feel safe – Your child will likely give you clues as to what he or she needs to feel safe.  Make sure you take those steps so that he or she can begin the process of recovery from this terrible experience.
  • Don’t let them blame themselves – It’s common for a child to blame him or herself after being sexually abused.  You need to make sure that your child does not fall into this trap.  It is extremely destructive and will only make the damage that’s been done worse.

Those who want or need to see the full breakdown provided by StopItNow.org can find it here.

How Children’s Rights Lawyers Can Help

If your child is sexually abused, you should obviously contact law enforcement to report it.  You should also learn more about your legal rights and options in addition to the criminal justice system.  In order to do so, contact the children’s rights lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys today for a free case evaluation.


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