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Online Child Sex Solicitation: Exploring the Feasibility of a Research ‘Sting’

International Journal of Cyber Criminology, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 228-248, 2007

21 Pages Posted: 28 Aug 2012  

Roderic Broadhurst

Australian National University (ANU); ANU Cybercrime Observatory

Kasun Jayawardene

Queensland Crime and Conduct Commisson

Date Written: May 25, 2008

Abstract

A small scale test of the integrity of Internet Web 2.0 social network sites was undertaken over several weeks in 2007. The fictional identities of four female underage children where posted on three network sites and later introduced to relay chat forums in order to explore the impact of apparent vulnerability on potential selection of Internet victims. Only one of the three social network sites in the study recognized that the postings violated child protection policies and subsequently closed down the underage postings.

Two basic identities were created: one that engendered a needy and vulnerable characterization of a child while the other identity was created to represent a happy and attached child character. The number of contacts and suspicious contacts were monitored to test assumptions about child ‘vulnerability’ and risks of unwanted sexual solicitations. The characters created also included either an avatar and/or contact details. These variants of the experiment showed that the inclusion of an image or access details increased the likelihood of contacts, including suspicious contact regardless of ‘vulnerability’. This small experiment noted that although vulnerable children with additional cues maybe at more risk all children who posted details about themselves on social network sites faced the risk of contact by predators. The need for further research and better means of regulating such sites was suggested.

Keywords: child abuse, online sex offences, Web 2.0, internet, cybercrime

Suggested Citation

Broadhurst, Roderic and Jayawardene, Kasun, Online Child Sex Solicitation: Exploring the Feasibility of a Research ‘Sting’ (May 25, 2008). International Journal of Cyber Criminology, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 228-248, 2007. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2137390 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2137390

Roderic Broadhurst (Contact Author)

Australian National University (ANU) ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2601
Australia

ANU Cybercrime Observatory ( email )

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 0200
Australia

Kasun Jayawardene

Queensland Crime and Conduct Commisson ( email )

Level 2, North Tower Green Square
515 St Pauls Terrace
Fortitude Valley
Australia

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