Acknowledging that they were older, the offenders seduced youth by being understanding, sympathetic, flattering, and by appealing to young people’s interest in romance, sex and adventure2.
To warn youth and parents about these crimes, we need to educate them about the real dynamics, and how naïve romantic illusions make some young people vulnerable to adult offenders who use flattery and seduction.
In the vast majority of Internet sex crimes against young people, offenders did not actually deceive youth about the fact that they were adults who had sexual intentions.
Here are suggestions of how to make Internet safety education materials more consistent with current research.
This most commonly used statistic from the widely cited Youth Internet Safety Survey (YISS) counts, “unwanted sexual solicitations,” but many such experiences are probably not encounters with true Internet sex offenders.
They may see such photos as romantic, fun, adventuresome, or even remunerative.
Four percent of youth in the YISS survey said they got requests from online solicitors to take and send sexual pictures of themselves1.