Washington: A recent study has revealed that it's not just strangers who target children online, but their friends are sexually harassing them over the Internet.
Researchers from the Michigan State University claimed that about one in four children said that they were pressurized by their friends online to talk about sex when they didn't want to.
Researcher Thomas J. Holt said this is not to downplay the danger of pedophiles acting online, but it does draw attention to the potential threat of child sexual victimisation by the people our kids are closest to, the people they spend the greatest amount of time with online.
Girls and kids with low self-control were more likely to be sexually harassed online. But the biggest surprise was the finding that 24 percent of study participants were sexually harassed over the Internet.
Parental-filtering software or keeping the computer in an open space such as the family living room did not seem to reduce the problem.
Holt said it seems like this is not something that can be technologically solved, at least for the moment. Instead, it has to be something that's resolved through engaged conversation between the parent and child.
He added that such conversations can be difficult, particularly when they deal with sex. But the parents need to have that talk with their kids about what they are doing online and what people are asking them to do online. That kind of open dialogue is one of the best things they can do to minimise the risk.
The research is published in the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice.