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Most online child sex offenses are not committed by strangers

Prosecutors respond to intense social and media pressure to obtain convictions for certain Louisiana crimes. The public makes judgment calls and clamors for punishment, often as soon as a defendant is charged -- whether allegations are true or false. Not only convictions, but unproven claims of wrongdoing can be severely damaging for Baton Rouge defendants accused of committing child sex offenses.

Federal and state governments take sex crimes involving children very seriously. Sexual predator information websites like Enough Is Enough have financial backing from the U.S. Department of Justice. The site is filled with statistics to help minors and their families understand how sex offenders operate and how young people respond to them on the Internet.

According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, one in seven children receives a sexual solicitation online. A survey of seventh-grade through ninth-grade students found just 16 percent of solicitations were from strangers. Forty-four percent of solicitors were minors largely made up of friends, acquaintances and even classmates.

The chances a child will be solicited for sex increase when the minor engages in risky Internet behaviors, like posting and sharing personal information and communicating with strangers in chat rooms. Predators scan social networking sites for information about the minors' preferences and dislikes, home and school and exact location.

Four percent of sexual solicitations involve a request to contact a minor by phone or in person – in those cases, 73 percent of youth consent. Eighty percent of offenders are upfront with minors about sexual expectations. Most minors solicited for sex online are ages 13 to 15; three-fourths of the victims are female.

Internet users often aren't truthful about themselves. That may include minors, who pretend to be adults online. Criminal defense attorneys can help defendants who've mistakenly engaged in sexual relationships with minors online and others who've been falsely accused of sexual misconduct with children.

Source: Internet Safety 101, "Predator Statistics" accessed Mar. 12, 2015

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