As we enter the last week of the course and we look back upon the many different forms of
white-collar crime, we know that many types of white-collar crime are committed through the
use of pen, paper, computers, etc. instead of guns and knives. Many white-collar crimes
involve financial gain, but is the use of a computer to engage in cybersex with children a
white-collar crime? Merely communicating over the internet is not a violent act, yet the
intention of the perpetrator may be very violent indeed. Please state your opinion and cite
the reasons why you believe you are correct.
Unit 8 Lecture
The Cybersex Offender and Children
By ARTHUR BOWKER, M.A., and MICHAEL GRAY
The law enforcement community increasingly faces situations involving explicit chat discussions and other
disturbing online activities that victimize minors. Officers encounter troubling images and dialogue during
undercover operations, as well as other types of efforts, such as computer forensic examinations targeted at
locating missing children.
Because of the capabilities that computers offer criminals lurking in the Internet’s shadows, these individuals
are particularly threatening to the community. From the safety of their homes, pedophiles can use the Internet
to anonymously and simultaneously prepare numerous children for future molestations. With the click of a
mouse, child pornographers easily can distribute their collections to many other offenders or even to juveniles.
Cybersex offenders who target young people use computers for purposes that may include viewing, storing,
producing, sending, and receiving child pornography; contacting, grooming, and enticing juveniles for
victimization; and communicating with (and, thus, helping to validate) each other. Upon their apprehension,
these individuals often will attempt to justify their actions. Law enforcement officers must learn to identify and
understand such offenders to effectively diffuse their defenses and lay the groundwork for a successful
THE YOUNG VICTIM
A recent study of 1,501 Internet users ranging from 10 to 17 years of age revealed the following disturbing
- Approximately 1 in 5 received a sexual solicitation over the Internet in the past year.
- One in 33 experienced an aggressive approach—an individual who requested a meeting; telephoned;
or sent regular mail, money, or gifts.
- One in 4 had unwanted exposure to explicit pictures in the past year.
- One in 17 faced threats or harassment.
- Youths reported less than 10 percent of sexual solicitations and only 3 percent of unwanted exposure
episodes to authorities, such as law enforcement agencies, Internet service providers (ISP), and
Cybersex offenses have a lasting and, thus, devastating effect on victims. For instance, electronically
maintained images do not deteriorate. They also can become dispersed easier, faster, and to a wider audience
than hard copy materials. Once distributed on the Internet, they are harder to retrieve and control. Because of
these factors, digital pornographic images have a longer duration of harm for victims than nonelectronic
Through the Internet, cybersex offenders can affect victims without any physical contact. Individuals easily can
forward explicit images to juveniles. Subjects also can obtain innocent pictures of children via the Internet or
other sources and then “morph” those images into pornography. 2 Until the pictures begin surfacing online,
these juveniles may not become aware of this type of victimization.
Additionally, these offenders use electronic images, as they would with hard copy materials, of child
pornography and even favorite cartoon characters engaged in sexual acts to encourage or entice juveniles to
participate in inappropriate conduct. This exposure serves to desensitize young people and make them think
such behavior is normal.
For these victims, finding justice can prove difficult. Of course, no one country or authority governs the
Internet’s content; issues of child pornography and exploitation frequently transcend jurisdictional boundaries.
This causes not only legal problems but also difficulties for juveniles and their families when seeking redress.