Briggs, Simon, and Simonsen (2011) have suggested that there is a distinction between fantasy-driven and contact-driven solicitation offenders.The former group engages in online activities (such as sexual chat, exchange of pornographic images, or exhibitionism via Webcam) that are gratifying in and of themselves, often resulting in orgasm while online.In addition, research by the Crimes against Children Research Center suggests that solicitation offenders target young adolescents, typically between ages 13 and 15, which would not be consistent with the clinical diagnosis of pedophilia (because many of the adolescents involved would be showing some signs of sexual and physical maturation) (Wolak et al., 2008).Although it is illegal and is a contravention of social norms about sexual behavior, a sexual interest in young to mid-teen adolescents is not indicative of pedophilia.Faced with more cases than they can handle in a timely fashion, law enforcement and other professionals who deal with these offenders need to prioritize their resources. Given an overarching goal to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse, it makes sense to prioritize and triage child pornography cases involving production or high-level distribution over possession alone or "passive" distribution (e.g., uploading images to file-sharing programs but not actively trading with others); solicitation cases involving attempts to meet in real life over online fantasy activities (e.g., sexually explicit chat); and cases involving Internet offenders who have already sexually assaulted children or are currently doing so over those with no known contact offending history.High-priority cases, in which children are suspected to already be victims or are at imminent risk, should receive the most attention.
Many, but not all, Internet offenders are motivated by a sexual interest in children.
here is increasing public and professional concern about Internet-facilitated sexual offending, reflected in a greater number of prosecutions and clinical referrals for these crimes (Middleton, Mandeville-Norden, & Hayes, 2009; Motivans & Kyckelhahn, 2007; U. The large majority of online offenses involve possession or distribution of child pornography.
Internet sexual offending comprises a range of crimes, including possession or distribution of child pornography; production of child pornography; sexual solicitations (online interactions with minors for sexual purposes, including plans to meet offline); and conspiracy crimes (e.g., collaborating with others to distribute or produce child pornography or to solicit minors).
It is hard to obtain precise estimates of Internet sexual offending in the United States, as there is no national system for integrating information about Internet offenders at the state level and there are state-by-state variations in the applicable laws.
However, the National Juvenile Online Victimization Study, conducted in 2000 and again in 2009, indicates that the number of arrests in the United States for Internet sex crimes has tripled over that time (Wolak, 2012; Wolak, Finkelhor, & Mitchell, 2011).
An important research question is the extent to which Internet sex offenders represent a new type of sex offender, or whether they reflect the transformation of conventional sexual offending through the adoption of new technologies (Seto & Hanson, 2011).