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Absence of Parental Boundaries Key Factor in Cyber-Sex Boom Among Youth

By Jim Brown
March 21, 2006

(AgapePress) - A well-known Internet safety expert says staggering numbers of young people are involved in the dangerous world of cyber-sex -- but most parents are not even aware it's an issue affecting their children.

Eighty-seven percent of more than 2,500 university and college students polled across Canada admit to having virtual sex over Instant Messenger, web cams, or the telephone. The 20-question survey was conducted by Toronto-based, an online dating community for students.

Internet safety expert and advocate Donna Rice-Hughes, president of the group Enough Is Enough, says results among American students are no different.

"The majority of kids -- in fact, nine- and ten-[year-old] youths -- have accidentally come across pornography [on the Internet]," says Rice-Hughes. "We're also seeing other studies and surveys that show that some of the largest demographic groups of users of Internet porn and cyber-sex are youth and teenagers."

Rice Hughes says similar numbers are found in the next higher age category -- college students, which she points "are now out of the home and out from under parental supervision."

In addition, says Rice-Hughes, pre-teen girls are especially vulnerable to being solicited sexually through chat rooms and instant messaging. "When they have that kind of exposure to not only pornography and sexual predators online at such an early age," she says, "the boundary issues that have not been set cause problems down the road, where these kids start engaging in these behaviors themselves."

As an example she notes that in statistics provided by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one of the largest categories of online perpetrators who were soliciting sex from other minors were minor children themselves.

Rice-Hughes is convinced that parental ignorance, lack of parental involvement, and access to porn in chat rooms and via instant messaging all are major factors that increase young people's appetite for engaging in virtual sex.

Jim Brown, a regular contributor to AgapePress, is a reporter for American Family Radio News, which can be heard online.


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