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13 February 2012
Decline in online sexual harassment
by George Atkinson

Unwanted sexual solicitations and unwanted exposure to pornography have both declined, according to a national survey of youth aged 10 to 17 carried out by the University of New Hampshire. The researchers suspect that greater public awareness may have been, in part, responsible for the reduction.

Reported in the Journal of Adolescent Health, the study found that the percentage of adolescents receiving unwanted online sexual requests declined from 13 percent in 2005 to 9 percent in 2010. Young people experiencing unwanted pornography exposure declined 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 study author Lisa Jones. "The online environment may be improving." The researchers add that reporting of arrests, publicity and education may have helped tamp down online sexual soliciting online.

Interestingly, the researchers caution that unwanted sexual solicitations are not always from adult online predators. "Previous research has found that while youth do not know the source of all the unwanted sexual solicitations they receive, when they did know, half were believed to come from other youth," the study notes.

Discuss this article in our forum
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Source: University of New Hampshire

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