Preventing Child Victimization Associated with Technology
Laurie Nathan  -  2010/6/16
http://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ovcproviderforum
 
 
Do you think predators use the friends list to connect to new victims on social network sites? Now that facebook allows users to hide friends, do you recommend this setting for minors? What about adults using it if they have friends who are minors, such as their children?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 I recommend that youths and adults use the Facebook privacy settings that limit the exposure of personal information and inappropriate contacts. The only friends setting helps to protect minors from meeting potential predators. Of course, this only works if their friends use this setting as well. Keep in mind that privacy settings are not foolproof if youths dont use their discretion about who theyre accepting as a friend.
 
2.  Laurie Nathan
 Online predators can potentially use friends lists on social networking sites to connect with teens. We do know that some youth use their friends lists to look more popular and may accept any friend request thats offered, including a friend request from a potential predator. Online predators seek out youths willing to make these connections with people they dont know and willing to meet offline for sex. However, most young people use social networking sites to socialize with friends they already know. Therefore, most teens would ignore sexual solicitations from online friends.
 
 
Statistically, what is the age and gender of the victim that is most likely to be targeted by internet predators? Is there any prevention programs specifically targeted towards this population that has been developed and is evidence based?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 Girls between the ages of 13-15 are most likely to be solicited by an online predator. Prevention programs typically target all youths, regardless of age or gender for several reasons. First, 25 of reported victims were male and males are less likely to report their victimization. Second, prevention should begin at an early age so that children can develop the skills to protect themselves online. However, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children offers specific resources for teen girls including public service announcements (Think Before You Post) and NetSmartz Real-Life Stories videos (Julies Journey, Amys Choice).
 
 
With 20% of teens reporting that the internet is safe, somewhat safe or very safe to share personal information on networking sites or blogs; as well as 37% (13 - 17 yr.olds) reporting that they are not very concerned or not at all concerned about someone accessing their personal information they've posted on line (according to the National Teen Internet Survey), has there been any recent studies conducted that focus 'only' on the psychological aspects of teen internet use, and the self-development process of internet behaviors in terms of identifying those factors that cause teens to develop a false sense of safety while engaged in cyberspace.
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 Another source you may be interested in is the Pew Internet & American Life Project, which offers quality research focused on the Internet behavior of 12-17 year olds. For example, this specific report on privacy and social networks found that Most teenagers are taking steps to protect themselves online from the most obvious areas of risk. You can find the full report here: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports2007Teens-Privacy-and-Online-Social-Networks.aspx. And while not a study or survey, the PBS Frontline documentary Growing Up Online is a compelling look at online youth behavior and gives some background into the psychology of youth today. The documentary is available online at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/kidsonline.
 
2.  Laurie Nathan
 The 2006 Cox Communications survey that you have referenced above did provide some interesting insights; however, they have just released a survey titled Teen Online Safety and Digital Reputation that may be more relevant to the questions you have posed. Of particular interest is the finding that 47 of teens surveyed believed they had complete control of the content they posted online. Please visit their report for more information: https://www.cox.com/takecharge/includes/docs/2010-Online-Safety-Digital-Reputation-Survey.pdf.
 
 
The Youth Internet Survey was designed to assess how often young people come into contact with unwanted sexual solicitations, pornography and harassment. Can you please share with us the benefits/advantages and disadvantages of the design of this study.
 
1.  Laura
 Mike, can you give us the information to find that survey?
 
2.  Mike Pesce
 I saw a recent survey that stated 97 of all middle school students have been bullied online. This same research also said that about 37 of teens have received unwanted pornographic images.
 
3.  Laurie Nathan
 The Youth Internet Safety Surveys were conducted in 1999,2000 and 2005. These surveys were instrumental in providing law enforcement and prevention programs with a clear view of what was happening to youths online. For example, one of the most important findings to emerge from these surveys was a profile of the typical victim of online solicitation. Additionally, the five-year gap between the two surveys was especially eye-opening in evaluating how youth Internet use had changed over time. Since 2005, the Internet has changed dramatically with more youths having Internet access. Usage of social networking sites and cell phones is up, while usage of e-mail, instant messaging, and chat rooms is down. Therefore, it would be beneficial to see how often todays youths encounter sexual solicitation, pornography, and harassment online.
 
4.  Laurie Nathan
 If you are asking specifically about methodology for the Youth Internet Safety Surveya telephone survey there are a number of schools of thought on this type of research. Some think that youths are more guarded in their responses over the phone than they would be answering similar questions online or in a traditional paper and pencil survey. However, others feel that a telephone survey is best for random sampling and gives you a better representation of the general population.
 
 
Some states have enacted mandatory Internet safety training as part of their public school curriculum. What efforts have been made to ensure such training is required in all schools nationwide, as well oversee the effectiveness and consistency of such training?
 
1.  Frank Williams
 Excellent, thank you so much for this information. I will follow-up on these efforts as well as Florida's compliance, or non-compliance. Mandatory training is our best bet to get the word to kids.
 
2.  Laurie Nathan
 At this time, schools that receive federal E-rate funding are required to employ filtering mechanisms and develop school policies that include measures for educating minors about appropriate online behavior. For more details about E-rate and CIPA requirements, visit http://www.e-ratecentral.com/CIPA/cipa_policy_primer.pdf. Recently, the Online Safety Technology Working Group (OSTWG) which was established by the Broadband Data Improvement Act, concluded that there needs to be a coordinated federal educational effort. They also recommend an evaluation component of all federal and federally funded online safety education programs.
 
 
What reporting options are available for youth who are victimized online?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 I recommend youths and trusted adults report online victimization either to the CyberTipline (www.cybertipline.com or 1-800-THE-LOST) or directly to local law enforcement. If a report is made to CyberTipline, the analysts at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children will do an initial analysis of the report and direct it to the appropriate law-enforcement agency.
 
 
How can we better partner with local eduators/school districts to increase awareness?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 There are several ways in which you can increase awareness of online child victimization by partnering with educators and school districts. I recommend the following approaches: implement an Internet safety program for use in grades K-12, work with local PTA/PTO to set up parent presentations, speak with school administrators about offering educator online safety training, host an Internet safety week featuring student online safety projects, or play safety videos and public service announcements on local cable television networks and closed-circuit television in schools.
 
 
Who is educating parents about teen/tween safety? Is there a main program or group?
 
1.  J mac Wg
 There are websites such as netsmartz.org that provide information to parents about internet safety. The trick is how to get the parent(s) involved and engaged prior to their children becoming a victim? Most parents work full time and are more likely to tell their children that they can't go on the websites. This makes the child do it behind their parent's back and are less likely to report any solicitations.
 
2.  Laurie Nathan
 There are several prevention programs that provide education to parents about protecting their children online. Common Sense Media (www.commonsensemedia.org) and NetSmartz Workshop (www.NetSmartz.org) offer a wealth of resources to answer parent questions and provide advice about their childrens online experiences. Additionally, NetSmartz offers resources geared specifically for tweensteens that can be found at www.NSTeens.org. Parents can utilize these materials as conversation starters with their kids.
 
 
What are the key components of an education program targeted at teens/tweens surrounding internet safety?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 First off, the resources used for tweens and teens must be geared specifically for this age group. A good education program will use a multimedia approach to engage children in the learning process. The key lessons include cyberbullying, online predation, and online privacy and should not use a fear-based approach. Incorporating a peer-to-peer component can significantly increase the efficacy of the program. Ultimately, the goal should be to empower children to use the Internet responsibly.
 
 
Cell phone use and social networking is happening at younger and younger ages. Are there reputable and effective presentations/trainings available for youth about how to protect themselves.
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 NetSmartz Workshop offers tween and teen presentations that address social networking and cell phone safety. These free presentations, complete with a presenters guide, utilize videos and real life stories to encourage youths to make responsible online decisions. You can find these presentations at www.NetSmartz.org/Presentations.
 
 
How does NCMEC define peer-on-peer predation?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 NCMECs response: NCMEC defines peer-on-peer predation in relation to child sexual exploitation and the online enticement of children for sexual acts. Like adult-on-child predation, it is a serious problem. Youth should be taught how to deal with online sexual solicitations, whether they come from adults or other youth.
 
 
Can you tell me what your views are, in short, on how to prevent children from being victims online. Specifically what would you advise those who educate youth on these topics?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 I would advise those who educate youths to take a two-part approach to prevent children from being victimized online. First, children need to be educated on the actual risks and empowered to make responsible decisions about their online behavior. Too many messages exaggerate the online risks, but children cannot be scared into making wiser decisions online. Programs that empower children and teach them to take responsibility for their actions are more effective.The second aspect is the necessity for parent involvement and monitoring of childrens online behavior. This does not necessarily mean installing filtering and monitoring software, which can only protect your children so much; it requires active parental supervision. Encourage parents to establish guidelines for Internet use and have an ongoing conversation with their children about their online activities.
 
 
I am curious about whether predators are truly targeting kids via the online gaming systems the way I have heard.
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 Yes, there have been a few reported cases of children victimized through online gaming systems. As far as we are aware, this has not occurred frequently. There are no specific studies focused on online gaming systems and solicitation.
 
2.  Don Earl
 Whether predator are or aren't, the potential still exists for them too. Kids need to be aware that any online space could be dangerous. Kids should never give out personal information online. Someone could be lurking in the online space waiting for that information.
 
 
What percentage of adult females use the internet for the purpose of online solicitation of minors?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 According to Internet Sex Crimes Against Minors: The Response of Law Enforcement by Janis Wolak, Kimberly Mitchell, and David Finkelhor from 2003, 99% of offenders who were arrested for Internet sex crimes against minors were male.
 
 
Do social networking sites actively look for predatory type behavior, or do they typically only react when something is brought to their attention?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 In general, social networking sites have reporting mechanisms that allow users to report online solicitations. By law, the social networking sites are required to report these incidents to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Childrens CyberTipline. These kind of self-regulated online communities heavily rely on users to flag inappropriate content and contact. Conversely, virtual worlds for younger children have safety measures in place, including active monitoring and limited chat with pre-selected text.
 
 
do you think kids in urban areas are more victimized than kids in suburban areas?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 I am not aware of any research that clearly indicates a discrepancy between the victimization of youth in suburban vs. urban areas. What we do know is that girls are most likely to be solicited online, especially those who engage in a combination of risky behaviors, such as friending unknown people and talking with them about sex. Additionally, boys who are gay or questioning their sexual identity are more likely to be solicited online.
 
 
What are the potential consequences of sexting and how do we talk to teens about the repercussions?
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 In addition to public humiliation, teens who have been caught sexting have been kicked off of sports teams, suspended or expelled from school, and faced criminal charges for child pornography. It is important to note that, to date, no minor (i.e. under 18) has been convicted on child pornography charges and registered as a sex offender. When talking to teens about sexting, ask them to think about these consequences before hitting send. Teach them to never take and send pictures they wouldnt want everyone to see because they cant control where the image may travel. NetSmartz offers Tips to Prevent Sexting for parents, which includes discussion starters they can use with their children. You can find the document here: www.NetSmartz.org/sexting. Also, the Ad Council and National Center for Missing & Exploited Children have developed a new public service announcement focused on this issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?vcBkZkf2Vmdw.
 
 
In my work as Risk Manager for a state Department of Development Services we are increasingly aware of our young individuals ( under age 25) engaging in chat sessions and other internet activity with suspected predators. Due to their cognitive disability an adult may present as a likely victim. We have had a few occasions when the predator has tried to contact/ visit the victim. Luckily, in these cases of which we have been aware...we ( or guardians) have been able to intervene. I am not familiar with prevention materials for teens, as I work with adults, Do you think these video materials may be appropriate for adults w/ an intellectual disabilites, who can use the internet.
 
1.  Laurie Nathan
 Yes, resources intended for teens may be appropriate for adults with disabilities. The important thing to remember is that these resources are created specifically for teens, so you will want to employ your expert opinion before using it with an adult audience. You may want to look at the NetSmartz Real-Life Stories videos for teens that feature real teens talking about their victimization online. They are located here: www.NetSmartz.org/resourcesreallife.htm.
 
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