New Study: Youth Online Exposed to More Porn but Fewer Sexual Solicitations

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The University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, just released the results of its Second Youth Internet Safety Survey and has compared it to the results of the first study from five years ago. The report, financed by a grant from the U.S. Congress, explains that fewer young Americans are receiving unwanted sexual advances over the Internet compared to five years ago. The center surveyed 1,500 children between the ages of 10 and 17 and found
that 13 percent had received unwanted advances last year against 19
percent in 2000. But it’s not all rosy…

According to the study, increased proportions of youth Internet users were encountering unwanted exposures to sexual material and online harassment, even though decreased proportions were receiving unwanted sexual solicitations. More than one-third (34 percent) saw sexual material online they did not want to see in the past year compared to one-quarter (25 percent) five years ago.

Interestingly enough, the increase to exposure to unwanted sexual material occurred despite increased use of filtering, blocking, and monitoring software in households of youth Internet users. More than half of parents and guardians with home Internet access (55 percent) said there was such software on the computers their children used compared to one-third (33 percent) in 2000. Online harassment also increased to 9 percent of youth Internet users from six percent in 2000.

Aggressive solicitations, which are defined as solicitations involving off-line
contact, held steady at around 4 percent of all solicitations. “It’s a mixed report,” said Ernie Allen, the national center’s president.

He said the decline in sexual advances reflects the success of education campaigns aimed
at warning children to avoid giving out personal information online and
not engaging with strangers. “Kids get it, and are being more careful,” Allen said. Of the children who were solicited aggressively, about 7 percent
actually met the people they corresponded with online, Allen said.

But no such explanation was given for the increase in exposure to unwanted sexual material despite the increase of protective software…

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