Some pediatric patients who use the Internet may receive solicitations from online sexual predators. Mitchell et al listed risk factors that can identify those more likely to receive a solicitation and those who are more likely to be distressed as a result. The authors are from the University of New Hampshire in Durham.


The Internet offers a number of advantages for a sexual predator:

(1) anonymity

(2) relative invisibility

(3) easy access to vulnerable populations

(4) easy to give misleading information


Youth at risk for an unwanted sexual solicitation (see Table 1, page 3012):

(1) female gender

(2) age >= 14 years

(3) troubled and/or vulnerable (depressed, recent death in family, recent moving, parents separated or divorced, etc)

(4) high use of the Internet

(5) participates in chat room discussions

(6) willing to communicates on-line with strangers

(7) high risk online behavior (posting personal information, talking about sex with someone never met, intentionally going to X-rated site, etc.)

(8) accesses the Internet at someone else's home


Risk factors for becoming distressed by a solicitation (see Table 2, page 3013):

(1) age < 14 years

(2) soliciting person tried to make offline contact

(3) being solicited on a computer that is being used at someone else's home


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