This study reports on a content analysis of 64 websites that promote, advocate, and convey information in support of sexual relationships between adults and children to determine whether these sites were structured as learning environments for crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children.
The findings indicate that the adult-child sex advocacy websites examined are criminogenic in that they contain a myriad of communication tools (e.g.
Adult cyber chat room
In the next section, we explore criminogenic considerations concerning online communities. Next, we report the results and discuss the findings and implications for the criminal justice system.
Lastly, we discuss the limitations of the current research and recommend future directions for research work in this area.
Additionally, companies offering website hosting services should modify their terms of service agreements to ban content advocating sexual relationships between adults and children.
Email, instant messengers, chat rooms, and websites are just a few of the many tools available to facilitate communication over computer networks.
The virtual spaces where children congregate online have created alternatives to the playground and ball field for adults looking to sexually solicit children.
The World-Wide-Web offers adults a means to promote and search for sexual liaisons involving children (Brunker, 1999; Hall, 2003; Mc Kim, 2006).Namely, the Internet and its comprising spaces of community provide access to victims who might otherwise not be viable targets for crime if it were not for their presence in cyberspace (Cox, Johnson, & Richards, 2009; D’Ovidio & O’Leary, 2006).Social networking websites, chat rooms, and instant messaging services, for example, place children in environments devoid of traditional guardians (e.g.Computer networks, according to Kollock & Smith (2003, p.4), “renew community by strengthening the bonds that connect us to the wider social world while simultaneously increasing our power in that world.” It is through this connectivity to the wider social world that the Internet and online communities offer new opportunities for commerce (Bressler & Grantham, 2000; Goyner, 2007; Jeon, Crutsinger, & Kim, 2008), education (Hofer, 2004; Mc Intosh, 2005; Renninger & Shumar, 2002), entertainment (Fisher, 2004; Kline, Dyer-Witheford, & De Pueter, 2003; Lastowka & Hunter, 2006), romance (Mahfouz, Philaretou, & Theocharous, 2008; Reid, 2005; Turkle, 1997), and political activism (Denning, 2001; Jordan & Taylor, 2004; Kahn & Kellner, 2004).The same features of the Internet that enable humans to easily traverse time and space to offer new opportunities for education, commerce, entertainment, love, and activism provide new opportunities for crime and can influence the proclivity to commit crime.They can be used to send a quick greeting to an overseas friend or to keep parents in touch with children away at school.