RESEARCH TITLE: Exploring Online grooming Opportunities on Social Media
Abstract: The use of the Internet and Online Social Networks (OSN) has increased drastically in recent years, and increased exposure of children to Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) has followed. However, few empirical studies have been conducted to address the factors that contribute to exposing children to child sexual abusers online and to identify the characteristics of the individuals who contact them. Recent studies have demonstrated that child sexual abusers come from various demographic backgrounds and that it is a challenge to describe a ‘typical’ offender. Studies have also shown that girls are more exposed to CSA attacks than boys but identified no differences in victim ethnicities. Read More
Based on Routine Activity Approach (RAA), the current study extends the published work by introducing a methodology to explore the online social communities where probable offenders and children interact and investigating the characteristics of both, as well as any associations between them. This is achieved by activating and observing four fictitious accounts of 13-years-old children on Instagram for thirty days. While the analysis showed consistent results with the literature, it also revealed new findings. The results showed that child sexual abusers come from various backgrounds and that they favor girls over boys, but it also showed that children of specific nationalities are targeted more than others. The knowledge obtained from this experiment could be used by many private and public sectors such as: law enforcement, child protection entities, school teachers, social media platform developers, parents and children.