Adult's sexual interest in children and adolescents online : A quasi-experimental study

A1 Journal article (refereed)


Internal Authors/Editors


Publication Details

List of Authors: Bergen E, Antfolk J, Jern P, Alanko K, Santtila P
Publication year: 2013
Journal: International Journal of Cyber Criminology
Volume number: 7
Issue number: 2
Start page: 94
End page: 111


Abstract

We employed a quasi-experimental design, with researchers impersonating children and adolescents in
online chat rooms. One was directed towards homosexual men, while the others were unspecified in
this aspect. We investigated whether male chat room visitors would initiate a sexual conversation with
children and adolescents, and whether they would suggest any means of continuing the communication
after knowing the portrayed age (which we varied). The results from 257 discussions indicated that
sexual interest rose as the impersonated age increased. A face-to-face meeting was suggested more often
to impersonated persons above the legal age of consent (16 and 18 year olds), than to persons below
the legal age of consent (10 – 14 year-olds). In 25.7% of the discussions with supposed 10 and 12
year olds (age suggestive of pedophilic sexual interest among adults), the contacts wanted to continue a
sexual conversation after the portrayed age was revealed. This descriptive, quasi-experimental study
shows that there is a large interest to engage in sexual conversations with children and adolescents
among visitors of the three chat rooms included. However, the amount and quality of the sexual
interest varied as a function of the age of the impersonated children and adolescents, and as a function
of chat room.
We employed a quasi-experimental design, with researchers impersonating children and adolescents in online chat rooms. One was directed towards homosexual men, while the others were unspecified in this aspect. We investigated whether male chat room visitors would initiate a sexual conversation with children and adolescents, and whether they would suggest any means of continuing the communication after knowing the portrayed age (which we varied). The results from 257 discussions indicated that
sexual interest rose as the impersonated age increased. A face-to-face meeting was suggested more often
to impersonated persons above the legal age of consent (16 and 18 year olds), than to persons below the legal age of consent (10 – 14 year-olds). In 25.7% of the discussions with supposed 10 and 12 year olds (age suggestive of pedophilic sexual interest among adults), the contacts wanted to continue a sexual conversation after the portrayed age was revealed. This descriptive, quasi-experimental study shows that there is a large interest to engage in sexual conversations with children and adolescents among visitors of the three chat rooms included. However, the amount and quality of the sexual
interest varied as a function of the age of the impersonated children and adolescents, and as a function of chat room.

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