Protecting children from sex offenders online: when strangers become 'virtual friends'

Davidson, J.C. and Martellozzo, E. (2005) Protecting children from sex offenders online: when strangers become 'virtual friends'. In: Safety & Security in a Networked World: Balancing Cyber-Rights & Responsibilities, 08-10 Sep 2005, Oxford, UK.

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This article describes findings from research funded by the Metropolitan Police and Crimestoppers which aimed to explore children's online experiences. A non-random, stratified sample of 200 London school children aged 10- 13 participated in focus groups. Preliminary findings are also presented from unpublished ongoing PhD research, which seeks to explore sex offender behaviour online and the policing of the internet (Martellozzo, 2005 ongoing). The findings are discussed in the context of sex offender's use of the internet. This research indicates that children do have some basic knowledge about 'stranger danger' but are not necessarily applying these lessons to cyberspace. The children in this study had sufficient awareness to not give personal details to strangers on the internet, and would not arrange to meet them. However, they made a distinction between 'strangers' and 'virtual friends' and this is an important point. Preliminary findings also highlight the difficulty of policing the internet and serve to illustrate the manner in which the Sexual Offences Act 2003 is applied to internet sexual offending in practice.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
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Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2016 09:24

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