Internet Crimes against Children

Internet Crimes against Children

Keith F. Durkin (Ohio Northern University, USA) and Ronald L. DeLong (Ohio Northern University, USA &MidWest Ohio Forensic Services, Inc., USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 8
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch066
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Internet crimes against children are a contemporary social problem which has drawn a great deal of attention from the parents, educators, legislators, and law enforcement officials. This phenomenon has captured national attention in the United States with a number of media reports of this phenomenon. These crimes include child pornography offenses, as well as adults soliciting minors for sexual purposes on line. Drawing upon data from recent national surveys, the characteristics of offenses, offenders, and victims are examined. A multitude of issues related to the assessment and classification of the individuals who commit Internet crimes against children are also explored. Strategies for the prevention of this behavior and enforcement of laws protecting children online are discussed.
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Offenses, Offenders, And Victims

The Internet has become the primary avenue for accessing and distributing child pornography. Now this material can be instantaneously shared with, an anonymously accessed, by a global audience. For instance, an Interpol child abuse image data base currently contains more than a half a million images (Elliot & Beech, 2009). One international child pornography ring called the Wonderland Club required members to share at least 10,000 new child sexual abuse images for membership (Krone, 2005). On the most fundamental level, these images represent a permanent record of the actual sexual abuse or exploitation of a child (Lanning, 2010). With Internet technology, theoretically the image of this abuse can be shared with and accessed by an infinite number of people. There is also a subtype of offender who commits crimes against children to produce pornography that is then shared and even sold on the Internet (Webb, Craissaiti, & Keen, 2007). The mere demand for this type of material fuels the further sexual abuse and exploitation of children (Seto, Hanson, & Babchishin, 2011).

Individuals who collect and/or traffic child pornography via the Internet are commonly referred to as “traders” by law enforcement (Alexy et al., 2005). The National Juvenile Online Victimization (NJOV) Study gathered data from a national sample of law enforcement agencies regarding arrests for child pornography (Wolak, Finkelhor, & Mitchell, 2011). The results revealed that offenders in these cases are overwhelmingly white men over the age of 25. Furthermore, approximately 70% of these offenders were single. Additionally, most of the offenders arrested on child pornography charges had material depicting prepubescent children (nearly half had images of children 3 to 5 years of age) and serious sexual abuse. The primary motivation for these offenders is sexual in nature. For instance, a recent study of these offenders found the primary aim of accessing and downloading child pornography from the Internet is sexual arousal, with offenders typically masturbating to such images (Quayle & Taylor, 2002).

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