Methods used by Internet predators to lure children into offline contact: How law enforcement and mental health professionals view grooming and assess risk
Individuals who attempt to solicit minors online for sexual activity have gained a great amount of media attention in recent years. Despite the risks involved, including arrest and prosecution, Internet sexual predators continue to engage in behavior that is aimed towards a typical common goal: offline sexual contact with a minor. While research exists that explores the methods used by sexual offenders in real-world settings to molest victims, less is known with regard to online behavior. Mental health professionals and law enforcement officers are in a unique position to reflect upon the use of the Internet by sexual offenders, and in particular, how this medium is used to groom children into sexual activity. This phenomenological qualitative study explored the typical methods used by sexual offenders to lure children via the Internet, and in particular, how grooming behaviors may be used to assess the risk for offending or level of threat posed by a potential sex offender. Both mental health professionals and law enforcement officers were interviewed with regard to their specific, phenomenological experiences of the issue, as these professionals possess a myriad of experience with regard to risk assessment and sexual offenders. The data was collected, analyzed, and coded to identify major themes inherent in their experiences, both individually and collectively.
0622: Clinical psychology
0646: Web Studies