Internet Alliance Comment: Online Victimization Study

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Source: Internet Alliance

By: Company Press Release

(WASHINGTON) — A national survey focusing on young people online was released today, suggesting that sexual solicitations were more likely to come from other youth than from the stereotypical Internet pedophile.

The study, ‘Online Victimization: A Report on the Nation’s Youth,’ was conducted by the Crimes Against Children Research Center of the University of New Hampshire, on behalf of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). NCMEC is a long time Internet Alliance child safety partner.

“We applaud this as the first study of its kind,” said Jeff Richards, Executive Director at the Internet Alliance. “Though it relies in part on subjective input, we believe that it brings some important issues into the light — issues that should be addressed further in later studies, such as the need for improved understanding of young people’s impressions of such encounters. The study indicates that young people are talking about incidents with far more peers than parents or others. This unfortunately reduces the likelihood that any adverse action will be taken against those sending the advances.”

“As Congress, parents, youth and many others read the survey, we want to be sure that we all better understand how ‘hallway behaviors’ in schools translate to the Internet, and how a truly satisfactory response may need to focus as well on cultural attitudes and acceptable behavior in settings where youth spend significant time together, such as schools and sports.”

“The safety of teens and children as they navigate the Internet has always been one of the Internet Alliance’s highest priorities,” said Richards. “In fact, in 1996, the IA was among the first to address safety by founding the Online Parental Education Network (Project OPEN) with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Internet Alliance member companies and others,” said Richards. “As part of Project OPEN, the IA worked closely with the National Center in developing pamphlets for parents and children that describe the ‘dos and don’ts’ for children online.”

The Internet Alliance’s Law Enforcement and Security Council (LESC) has also worked closely with NCMEC on combating child pornography by developing the Cyber Tipline — a mechanism for reporting child pornography on the Internet.

“We believe in family empowerment, and think that the best way to equip our children as Internet users is to continue to work constructively with parents, schools and organizations like the National Center,” Richards continued. Richards also recommended the GetNetWise resource center for parents and children at www.getnetwise.org. The Internet Alliance was a founder of GetNetWise and continues to support it.

“As we move forward,” said Richards, “our special concern must also be with those who reported being upset or frightened by online approaches, whether from other youth or adults. We all need to work together opening lines of communication between parents and children, and between users, Internet Service Providers and appropriate authorities about any victimization, online or offline,” said Richards. “This is where our work with NCMEC and our Law Enforcement and Security Council on things such as the Cyber Tipline has been taking us, and we feel the study gives additional impetus to those efforts.”

The Internet Alliance is the leading consumer Internet industry association representing the industry on the state, federal and international levels. Through public policy, advocacy, consumer outreach and strategic alliances, the IA is seeking to build the confidence and trust necessary for the Internet to become the mass-market medium of the 21st Century.

Leading members of the Internet Alliance include: America Online, Bell Atlantic, Citibank, Cox Interactive, Deutsche Telekom, DLJDirect, IBM, MCI WorldCom/UUNET, Microsoft and Prodigy. The IA is an independent subsidiary of The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA), possessing the clout and expertise of more than 4,500 member businesses in interactive and other marketing.