One Third Of Girls Meet Internet Strangers Face-To-FaceEditor's Choice
Main Category: Psychology / Psychiatry
Also Included In: Pediatrics / Children's Health
Article Date: 15 Jan 2013 - 11:00 PST
One Third Of Girls Meet Internet Strangers Face-To-Face
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About one-third of teenage girls are putting themselves at risk by arranging to meet strangers they have met on the Internet, but have never seen face-to-face.
The finding came from new research conducted by a U.S. children's hospital and was published in the journal Pediatrics.
The study found that 30% of the adolescent females surveyed reported to have met up with at least one person they had encountered on the Internet, whose identity was not confirmed prior to their face-to-face meeting.
"These meetings may have been benign, but for an adolescent girl to do it is dangerous," explained Jennie Noll, PhD, a psychologist at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, director of research in behavioral medicine and clinical psychology at Cincinnati Children's, and the study's lead author.
The report emphasized that female teens face a serious risk when they go online. Previous research from Cornell University demonstrated that both men and women tend to lie on their social networking profiles.
However, for teen girls who have been victims of abuse or neglect, the risk increases. The researchers discovered that abused or neglected adolescent females had a higher probability to behave in a sexually provocative way on the Internet than other teen girls.
Past studies have indicated that offline meetings are more likely to result from high-risk online profiles on social media sites, Dr. Noll pointed out.
"If someone is looking for a vulnerable teen to start an online sexual discourse, they will more likely target someone who presents herself provocatively. Maltreatment poses a unique risk for online behavior that may set the stage for harm."
The study involved 251 teen girls between the ages of 12 and 17 - about 50% of them had experienced abuse or neglect.
According to Dr. Noll and her team, there was no difference in the link between maltreatment and high-risk Internet behaviors even when parents installed Internet filtering software in their homes.
These risky behaviors included:
- provocative self-presentations on social networking sites
- deliberately searching for adult content
- receiving sexual advances online
The current research builds on Dr. Noll's body of work which focuses on risky behavior on the Internet. In a previous study, she was told some "chilling" stories from girls who had met people offline after meeting them on the Internet.
"One patient told a story about a guy who started texting her a lot, and he seemed 'really nice.' So she agreed to meet him at the mall, she got in his car, they drove somewhere and he raped her."
Written by Sarah Glynn
Copyright: Medical News Today
Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today
Jennie G. Noll, Chad E. Shenk, Jaclyn E. Barnes, Katherine J. Haralson
Pediatrics Jan 14, 2013; doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-1281
20 May. 2013. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/254968.php>
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