Children’s Experiences of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Abuse on the Internet
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A survey conducted by Save the Children and the Helsinki Virtual Community Policing Group provides insight into the prevalence of the sexual abuse of Finnish children on the internet. The anonymous survey took place in four online communities in 2011. The report presents the results regarding respondents under 16 years old (62% girls, 38% boys), accounting for 54% (2 283) of all respondents.
The focus was on online interaction where the counterpart was an adult or someone clearly older. 33% of the children had received sexual messages, photos or videos experienced as harassing from an adult or someone clearly older; 24 % had entered into discussions of a sexual nature, and 20 % had had a sexual webcam contact with an adult or someone clearly older. 11 % had appeared scantily dressed or naked on webcam. Bearing in mind the restrictions regarding online surveys, the results provide cause for concern. Online sexual abuse of children – whether experienced as harassing or not - appears to be a far-reaching problem requiring determined law enforcement interventions and child protection actions.