21 Dec 2011

Increased internet security leads to drop in unwanted youth sexual encounters

Public awareness and internet security may be the keys in helping reduce the amount of unwanted sexual exposure for young children online, according to research from the University of New Hampshire Crimes Against Children Research Center.

The study found that the percentage of youths receiving unsolicited sexual requests undaunted declined from 13 percent in 2005 to 9 percent in 2010. Pornography requests decreased from 34 percent to 23 percent over the same period.

“The constant news about Internet dangers may give the impression that all internet problems have been getting worse for youth, but actually that is not the case,” said lead author Lisa Jones, research associate professor of psychology at the UNH Crimes Against Children Research Center. “The online environment may be improving.”

Jones said unwanted sexual advances toward youths on the internet are down 50 percent since 2000. She said since the problem has gained more awareness, it could just be the public's perception that advances have increased. This, coupled with parental internet security programs, could have helped lead to the great decrease.