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One in four children is sexually harassed by friends online

The best way to tackle it is by talking to children.

Image: Shutterstock/Maksim Shmeljov

CHILDREN ARE BEING increasingly pressured to talk about sex online, a new study has found.

The study of 439 12 to 16-year-olds by Michigan State University cybercrime expert Thomas J Holt found that one in four had felt under pressure to talk about sex.

The study, which appears online in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 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. Holt says that the results show that strangers aren’t the only danger online.

“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.”

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,” Holt said.

“Instead, it has to be something that’s resolved through engaged conversation between parent and child.”

Holt says these conversations are difficult, but worth having.

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