Internet Predators and Their Prey
Crisis Connections indicates that sexual predators are generally male, between 13 and 65. Many are married, although most are single, and they can be classified into four types:
- Collectors — predators who start on "static" sites collecting photos and pornography but who generally graduate to "dynamic" sites, i.e. real-time chat rooms, where they can meet potential victims and seek ways to realize their fantasies.
- Travelers — the most dangerous type, these men will go great distances to meet their prey (even other countries) to get what they want, generally sending gifts and using enticements to draw the child away from the safety of the home. They look for vulnerable lonely children who crave attention and they're quite persistent, as well as skilled. They can get a relationship going within two to four chats.
- Manufacturers — they distribute pornography to others and sometimes partake themselves, but are mostly in it for the money
- Chatters — they like to engage children in chat rooms and talk about sex but don't often graduate to meeting offline
These online contacts can influence a young person's sense of identity. Psychologist Patricia Greenfield, of the University of California, LA, indicates in Science News that the Internet offers a wide variety of opportunities of meeting places for social networking. This same article reports that nine in ten adolescents utilized Internet resources in 2004, and at least 50% went online every day. A lot of them are contacted by predators seeking a viable contact whom they can draw into their net. Most predators have a number of fetishes and paraphilias, so for some, almost any kid who responds will do.