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Misuse of the Internet by Pedophiles: Implications for Law Enforcement and Probation Practice

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 61 Issue: 3 Dated: September 1997 Pages: 14-18
K F Durkin
Date Published
5 pages
This article documents ways in which the Internet is being misused by pedophiles, with special attention paid to the implications of Internet-related deviance for law enforcement and probation practice.
One of the primary ways in which pedophiles misuse the Internet is to exchange child pornography. Trends of particular concern involve use of the Internet by pedophiles to locate children to molest and to engage in inappropriate sexual communication with children. The anonymity of the Internet affords pedophiles the ability to misrepresent their identity because they can assume the identity of a young person and attempt to engage in sexually explicit on-line discussions with children in computer chat rooms. Pedophiles can also use the Internet to correspond with each other. In particular, a news group of "boy lovers" is available on-line that receives between 150 and 200 message postings each month. Misuse of the Internet by pedophiles constitutes a significant development in the area of sexual deviance, especially since tremendous difficulties are associated with investigating this form of computer-related crime. Investigators should be aware that any pedophile with computer access can engage in deviant activities and should educate parents about practical steps they can take to prevent children from being victimized by on-line pedophiles. Probation officers should be familiar with the various ways in which pedophiles misuse the Internet and should restrict the Internet access of any pedophile who is on probation. 25 references and 3 notes