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One in four kids sexually harassed by friends online

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Washington: The study is one of the first to examine the factors of online child sexual victimisation. Girls, and kids with low self-control, were more likely to be sexually harassed online. File Photo for representation.

Parents, take note! Even your child’s closest friends could be sexually harassing them over the internet, according to a new US study that found one in four children were pressurised by their friends online to talk about sex.

“This is not to downplay the danger of paedophiles acting online, but it does draw attention to the potential threat of child sexual victimisation by the people our kids are closest to, the people they spend the greatest amount of time with online,” said Thomas J Holt, associate professor at Michigan State University in US.

According to the study of 439 middle- and high-school students aged 12 to 16, about one in four children said they were pressured by their friends online to talk about sex when they did not want to.

The study is one of the first to examine the factors of online child sexual victimisation.
Girls, and kids with low self-control, were more likely to be sexually harassed online. However, the biggest surprise was the finding that 24 per cent of study participants were sexually harassed over the internet.

Parental-filtering software or keeping the computer in an open space such as the family living room did not seem to reduce the problem.

“So it seems like this is not something that can be technologically solved, at least for the moment. Instead, it has to be something that’s resolved through engaged conversation between parent and child,” Holt said.

The study was published in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice.

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