Who Are Sex Offenders Online?

Topic Progress:

There are many misconceptions regarding who child sex offenders are. Online child sex offenders are sometimes thought of as only lonely old men from western countries who use the web to prey on children from developing countries, however reality shows that the situation is much more varied than that.  

This stereotypical way of portraying the child sex offender interferes with prevention programs and with public’s awareness on what signs to look out for.  

Sex offenders of children online are known to be both foreign to the country of the children they exploit, as well as nationals. They can be peer members of the child, or someone the child already knows. They can be children themselves or adults. And they can be both male or female.  

It is impossible therefore to identify a child sex offender by their physical traits. However, there are common behaviours and modus operandi which are normally used by child sex offenders online which can be recognised. 

Online Grooming 

Online grooming is the most commonly applied method used by child sex offenders to gain access to children online. Online grooming is when a person tries to gain leverage over a child or to build a relationship with them through online communication, with the intention of exploiting them for their own sexual gratification. Child sex offenders often use this technique in order to gain access to a child, build their trust and receive sexual material from a child online and/or arrange to meet them to sexually abuse them in person.  

As opposed to grooming in the offline world, it is easier for a child sex offender to groom the child online and gain their trust. Children’s inhibitions online are often lower with a false sense of security when the person they communicate with is physically separated from them by a screen. This results in a much faster grooming process which can last even just a few minutes before the offender introduces sexual topics to a child and makes sexual propositions. The swiftness of the offender’s actions may lead to the child sending sexual material before they have time to realize the consequences of their own actions.  

How do online sex offenders groom children? 

The grooming process involves the offender using manipulative and exploitative tactics to lower children’s inhibitions towards doing as they please. They will often target the most vulnerable children who show insecurities and use this to their advantage.  

Advances in technology allow offenders to remain anonymous, create false identities and disguise as someone they are not. They are able to monitor children’s activities online and more easily know their whereabouts and what they like. This way they are able to lure children by exploiting their emotional or physical necessities. For instance, they can offer money, or use emotional manipulation and make false promises to make a child feel more comfortable to do as the offender requests.  

Online grooming often incorporates offenders sending children pornographic material in order to desensitise them to sexual demands and normalise sexual activities. Children’s exposure to sexual material makes them more likely to agree to engage in sexual activities themselves.  

en_USEN
Scroll to Top

Cookie Policy

We use cookies to personalise and improve your browsing experience. By clicking ‘Accept All’, you agree to  the policy.