CyberWatch Column


Pedophiles on the Internet


Professor of Computer Information Systems

Norwich University, Northfield, VT

This is the opening column in a series devoted to how ordinary people can protect themselves against threats involving the Internet as a mechanism for abuse.

Children, parents and teachers face a new area of danger: the Internet.† This course will review the dangers that people can meet on the Internet and then examine some of the technology that is helpful in preventing harm.

Let's start with pedophiles.† Pedophilia is defined as sexual arousal in response to contact with or images of prepubescent children.† Some pedophiles misrepresent themselves as youngsters in chat rooms or via e-mail and trick children into forming friendships with what they believe are peers.† In one notorious case, a 47-year-old man misrepresented himself as a 15 year-old boy in e-mail to a 12-year old girl in New Jersey.† The victim's mother stumbled onto a package from her daughter to a man she didn't know† because the child had put the wrong postage on it.† On the video tape inside, she found that her little girl had been cavorting naked in front of the family video camera.†

In June 2000, child safety experts warned the U.S. congressional committee on child online protection that with the average of age of online users declining (children between the ages of two and seven are among the fastest growing user cohorts on the Internet), children increasingly are put at risk by their careless or ignorant online activities.† The committee heard that 3,000 children were kidnapped in the U.S. last year after responding to online messages posted by their abductors.† A recent survey of teenage girls found 12% had agreed to meet strangers who'd contacted them online.

Practical recommendations for parents and others for protecting children against online pedophiles:

"Child pornography." < >

  • "FBI warns of child exploitation."† < >
  • "In plain site:† Pedophiles online, How to protect children."† < >
  • "Internet safety:† Warning signs."† < >
  • "Parents can protect their children from child predators roaming the Internet:† Six simple guidelines." < >
  • "When to call the FBI."† < >
  • Children's Protection and Advocacy Coalition < >
  • Gado, M. (2000).† "Pedolphiles and child molesters:† The slaugher of innocence."† < >
  • Guarding Our Children's Innocence Against Pedophiles.† < >
  • Kincaid, J. R. (2000).† "Hunting pedophiles on the Net:† Is the truth about cybercrimes against children tamer than fiction?"† < >
  • Lovell, J. (2001).† "Pedophiles flooding British Internet chat rooms."† < >
  • Monahan, M. A. (date unknown).† "Protecting children from pedophiles."† < >
  • Ratliff, L. (1997).† "Online stalking and pedophiles:† Protect yourself and your family." < >