A new report finds that more people are being arrested for sexually soliciting youth online than they were six years ago. However, this is mostly due to “sting” operations, where the number of arrests for soliciting undercover investigators who posed as juveniles increased almost 500%. In contrast, arrests for solicitation of actual children increased 21% from 2000-2006. Although it should be alarming that those crimes involving actual children are increasing, it is important to remember that internet use overall during this time has increased much more than 21%. So, proportionally, these solicitations are on the decline.
According to the report, arrests of online predators comprised only 1% of all sex crimes against minors. By far, the vast majority of sex crimes against minors are within the family or local community — not by online strangers. On a similar note, the report also noted that there is little to no evidence that minors were being “lured” by adults or found by predators based on personal information they post. Instead, youths were the ones reaching out to people whom they knew to be adults and seeking relationships with them. Unfortunately, some of these adults take advantage of such situations.
Bottom line is that online predation remains a rare occurrence. Minors are more often abused by someone close to them (either a family or local community member), and when they are sexually involved with someone online, it is someone whom they already know to be an adult, and actively have formed a relationship with.