Adolescents and Cybercrime: Navigating between Freedom and Control
Policy & Internet, Vol. 3, No. 2, Article 4, 2011
29 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2011 Last revised: 19 Aug 2014
Date Written: June 1, 2011
Online safety for children and adolescents as a policy issue finds itself in a turbulent arena: emerging new mobile and online technologies and applications carry opportunities and risks and constantly bring new challenges. This article explores particularly the field of adolescents and cybercrime against a background of a culture of control combined with an increasing use of new media by youngsters. Based on two particular cases, i.e. 'grooming' - a new development in criminal law where children and adolescents are treated as (potential) victims in need of protection and 'sexting' a new development in online risk-taking where adolescents are framed as (potential) offenders in need of repression - we argue that public policy with respect to adolescent behavior and online risks is tilting towards more control. These developments in cybercrime policy that focus on criminal law as a policy instrument disturb the balance between the freedom of adolescents to develop into responsible and independent adults and controlling online risks. Other, more promising avenues, such as encouraging digital literacy of citizens and protecting those children who are particularly vulnerable, should rather be at the forefront of public policy.
Keywords: cybercrime, internet, adolescents
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