Journal article Open Access

Are We Protecting Our Youth Online? An Examination of Programs Keeping Youth Safe and Analysis of Policy Vacuum

Marcum, C.


Gibson’s (1984) cyberspace did not become a popular facet in American homes until the 1990s, so in the grand scheme of technology, the Internet is still considered to be in its adolescence.  However, despite its young age, approximately 87% of American youth use the Internet on a regular basis (Raine, 2006).  While these youth are spending substantial amounts of time online, many of them are becoming victims of criminal activity.  The range of crimes committed online, otherwise known as cyber crimes, is quite substantial; however, the particular focus of this study is to examine the preventative programs and policies developed to curb the online victimization of youth (i.e., sexual solicitation, unwanted harassment, and unwanted exposure to sexual material).  While several attempts at passing legislation have been unsuccessful, a few attempts by the federal government to protect America’s youth have been successfully implemented and will be reviewed.  While there are only few evaluations of strategies to prevent online victimization of youth to examine, suggestions of strategies that could be applied to cyberspace based on situational-based crime prevention strategy evaluations of other parallel programs in different arenas are discussed.

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