Sweet child in time: Online sexual abuse of children - A research exploration

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Bentham Open


The ‘Budapest study’ conducted in 2009 focuses on the online activities and behaviour of teenagers studying in secondary schools in Budapest, Hungary. The range of risky behaviours includes chatting with strangers online, talking sex with strangers online, and having offline meeting with strangers encountered online. Offline meeting with strangers often led quickly to sexual intercourse. One of the striking outcomes of the research is that a significant proportion of teenagers who had already had a sexual relationship communicated the fact in conversations online. The research showed nevertheless, that “double moral standards”, responsible for a person’s danger-awareness during online communications, is more noticeable among Budapest pupils than among their peers from countries which joined the European Union in and before 2004. Budapest children tend to be more accepting when the stranger they meet online lies about his/her age and aims. They are seemingly less embarrassed when confronted by sexual material online or when someone initiates indecent talk with them. Young people in countries that joined the European Union in and after 2004 are supported less by adults when it comes to issues of online risks. On average, their schools have less awareness-raising, parents are less dangeraware, and they use fewer protective devices at home. This may lead to the fact that Budapest pupils do not usually turn to their parents when confronted by embarrassing online material or requests. This paper includes the core data on Budapest youngsters’ habits in using the Internet, particularly regarding the issue of facing ‘dangerous’ content. However, it is to be noted that the definition of ‘dangerous or risky online behaviour or content’ as adult society addresses it is quite different from how children think of it. When developing any educational program on digital literacy, this should be taken into consideration.



online sexual abuse, online dating, double moral standards