Kids safer from online sexual predators

Posted by Kate Taylor

Fewer children are being exposed to unwanted sexual approaches and porn online - probably thanks to publicity and improvements in social networks' privacy policies, a new report finds.

A study from the University of New Hampshire Crimes against Children Research Center has found that while 13 percent of young people  received unwanted online sexual requests in 2005, that figure fell last year to nine percent.

Only 23 percent of kids between 10 and 17 were exposed to porn unwillingly, compared with 34 percent in 2005.

But it's not all good news, with reports of online bullying and harassment rising slightly since 2005, from nine to 11 percent.

"The constant news about internet dangers may give the impression that all internet problems have been getting worse for youth, but actually that is not the case," says lead author Lisa Jones. "The online environment may be improving."

The CCRC says it reckons the reason is that there's been a great deal of publicity - and arrests - over the last few years. And, it says, improvements in privacy features on social networks have also helped.

Unfortunately, it says, online harassment hasn't received the same attention, although this could change.

"Hopefully, the new focus on online harassment will produce some of the same improvements in this problem that we have seen in sexual solicitations, says Jones.