Sex offenders use chatrooms more than social networking sites

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London, Feb 21 (UNI) Though social networking sites such as Orkut and Facebook have been blamed for being the hub of online sexual predators, a new study revealed that interactions about sex with unknown people in chatrooms increased the risk of being victimised online.

It also rubbished the previous belief that Internet sex predators targeted young children by posing another youth, stating that the offenders seduced teen victims into sexual relationships.

Researchers studying the nature of Internet-initiated sex crimes stated the youth most vulnerable to online sex offenders have histories of sexual or physical abuse, family problems, and tendencies to take risks in life.

The study ''Online Predators and Their Victims: Myths, Realities and Implications for Prevention,'' published in the American Psychologist revealed that those who troll the internet for sex with minors took time to develop the trust and confidence of victims, so that the youth saw these relationships as romances or sexual adventures.

''The offenders use instant messages, e-mail and chat rooms to meet and develop intimate relationships with their victims. In most of the cases, the victims are aware that they are talking online with adults,'' the report said.

Lead researcher Janis Wolak said there was a need for true dynamics to prevent such crimes. ''The things that we hear and fear and the things that actually occur may not be the same. The newness of the environment makes it hard to see where the danger is.'' Children should be educated about online deception and discouraged from giving posting personal information. There was a need to inform teens about the drawbacks and inappropriateness of romantic relationships with adults.

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