Children have always been vulnerable
to victimization. Their trusting natures and naivete make them perfect
targets for perpetratorsboth people they know and those they
dont. As children grow into adolescents, they remain vulnerable
to victimization.Youth are often curious and eager to try new things.
Many youth struggle with issues of rebellion and independence and
seek attention and affection from people outside the home, often
by using computers. Today, an estimated 10 million children are
using the Internet. By 2005, approximately 77 million kids will
be online. With so many children online, todays predators
can easily find and exploit them. For predators, the Internet is
a new, effective, and more anonymous way to seek out and groom children
for criminal purposes such as producing and distributing child pornography,
contacting and stalking children for the purpose of engaging in
sexual acts, and exploiting children for sexual tourism for personal
and commercial purposes.
The nature of Internet crimes presents
complex new challenges for law enforcement agencies and victim service
providers with regard to investigating crimes, collecting evidence,
identifying and apprehending offenders, and assisting child victims
and their families. For example, victims and perpetrators are often
separated geographically, which may hamper investigation efforts.
Also, victims are often ashamed and reluctant to come forward, which
makes identifying offenders difficult. These challenges are being
addressed by federal and local law enforcement agencies, but there
is still much to learn about preventing, identifying, and investigating
Internet-based crimes against children.
This Bulletin is based on the experiences
of professionals now working with child victims of Internet crimes
and their families. It highlights some of the challenges law enforcement
and victim service professionals face in addressing Internet crimes
against children and focuses attention on child victims of these
crimes by examining who they are and how best to respond to their
needs and the needs of their families.
Internet Crimes Against
Scope of the
Targets of Internet CrimesWho Is Vulnerable?
Types of Internet
and Intervention Resources
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acknowledges Helen Connelly, an independent consultant,
who conducted the original research for this project. Ms.
Connelly identified and interviewed many of the key sources
used in this Bulletin. OVC also gratefully acknowledges
the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
for its generous help. In particular, OVC thanks John Rabun
for his comments and suggestions during the review process
and for helping OVC get timely access to Dr. David Finkelhors
study findings for inclusion in this Bulletin.
Preparation of this document
was supported by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of
Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions,
findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this
document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent
the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of
The Office for Victims of Crime
is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also
includes the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Bureau of Justice
Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office
of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.
|This document was originally published in May 2001 and reprinted in December 2001 and December 2005.