Statutory sex crime laws in every state recognize the exploitative imbalance of power and experience that makes relationships between young teens and adults inappropriate.Youth and parents need to know that most Internet sex crimes have this dynamic, so they can accurately identify situations where such crimes may be occurring. Most youth do not realize that sexual pictures of themselves and other minors can constitute child pornography; its production and transmission are serious crimes.These are the online encounters most likely to lead to an offline sex crime.In the vast majority of Internet sex crimes against young people, offenders did not actually deceive youth about the fact that they were adults who had sexual intentions.Youth should be very cautious about how they respond to people who contact them.
According to research looking at crimes ending in arrest, violence occurred in only 5% of cases.Most of these crimes are statutory rather than forcible rapes2.Virtually all cases of Internet sex crimes involve youth 12 and up2. Younger children have much less interest than teens in interacting with and going to meet unknown persons they have encountered online.Youth need to understand why this is a crime, and that people who ask for and transmit such pictures can get arrested as child pornographers and sex offenders.Research suggests youth take more risks when they are online together with other youth1.
Research suggests that teenagers are the primary victims of Internet sex crimes and that common teenage vulnerabilities – interest in sex, romance, adventure, independence – are what gets them in trouble3.