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Mobile phone technology and sexual abuse

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Abstract:

Whilst it is acknowledged that grooming and sexual abuse takes place both in the offline and online environment, the continued convergence of technologies means that the offline and online boundaries are increasingly blurred. This paper will discuss how mobile phone technology can be counterproductive to preventing sexual abuse and can help facilitate sexual offending. The paper will start by giving an overview of what term ‘sexual violence’ means, and the forms of offending linked to it, as well as its relationship with technology and the media. This is particularly salient as real world evidence and empirical research indicates that sex offenders, especially child sexual abusers, have developed and established a strong link with emerging technologies. Consequentially, this paper will discuss how a broad range sexual offender can use high end mobile phone technology (e.g. Blackberry, iPhone, etc.) in their grooming of and offending against victims; in the development and distribution of sexual abuse imagery, either real or artificially produced; and in their contact/relationship building with other sexual offenders. The paper will not just focus on adult sexual abusers, but also adolescents who engage in sexually harmful behaviour either to themselves, through self exploitation, or to others, through photo and video capture facilities (e.g. sexting). This paper will look at these issues, ramifications and outcomes of these issues locally, regionally, national and internationally; before concluding with some questions, comments and discussions around how we can, if possible, control as well as monitor the interface between sexual abuse and mobile phone technology, as well as how realistic this is.

Keywords: child sexual abuse; cyber crime; mobile phone; sexting; trafficking

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/13600834.2012.744223

Affiliations: 1: Department of Heath And Applied Social Sciences,University of the West of England, Bristol, UK 2: School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy, University of Ulster, Belfast, Ireland

Publication date: 2012-10-01

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