Teens know the risks of being online, they just don't think it can happen to them

Posted July 27

A UNICEF study has found that despite knowing the dangers, most teens think they're safe online. (Deseret Photo)

A recent study from the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund has found that teens are very vulnerable online, though most teens polled thought they could avoid unsafe situations.

The study surveyed 18-year-olds in 25 countries and found that 80 percent of respondents agreed that young people are in danger of falling victim to sexual abuse online and more than 50 percent said they had friends who engaged in “risky behavior” online.

Their suspicions are well-founded. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 13 percent of child internet users just in the U.S. report getting unwanted sexual solicitations online, 9 percent say they’ve been exposed to “distressing sexual material” in some form online and 40 percent of minors in relationships say they have experienced some form of abuse via technology.

Online exploitation varies by country. According to an investigation from the U.K. Guardian, tens of thousands of children in the Philippines are forced to perform live sex shows online, often at the hands of their parents. The industry for videos of such child abuse, the United Nations reports, is worth $1 billion.

“Although online violence and exploitation is a reality in the lives of children worldwide, many children do not have the necessary knowledge or resources to sufficiently protect themselves,” UNICEF’s associate director of child protection, Cornelius Williams, told the U.K. Guardian. “Globally, one in three internet users is a child.”


Twitter: ChandraMJohnson


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