This paper reports on the findings of the Youth Internet Safety Survey, which collected information about incidents of possible online victimization of youth.
The survey conducted telephone interviews with a national sample of 1,501 youth ages 10 through 17 who used the Internet regularly (at least once a month for the past 6 months). The survey focused on sexual solicitations and approaches, unwanted exposure to sexual material, and harassment. Almost 19 percent of the youth surveyed received an unwanted sexual solicitation in the past year. Five percent received a distressing sexual solicitation (made them feel very or extremely upset or afraid); 3 percent received an aggressive solicitation that involved offline contact or attempts or requests for offline contact; none of the solicitations led to an actual sexual contact or assault. Twenty-five percent of the surveyed youth reported unwanted exposures to sexual material; 6 percent had experienced distressing exposures (exposures that made them very or extremely upset). The survey also revealed that some youth were victims of online harassment. Six percent reported threats, rumors, or other offensive behavior during the past year. Two percent reported episodes of distressing harassment (incident made them feel very or extremely upset or afraid). Overall, few of the solicitations, exposures, and harassments were reported to authorities. Recommendations are offered for dealing with and preventing youths' exposure to sexually offensive content while they are online.
Date Published: March 1, 2001