What is sexual solicitation?
According to the Crimes Against Children Research Center, a sexual solicitation is an unwanted request to engage in sexual activities or talk, or any sexual request by an adult. Sexual solicitations are considered aggressive if the request includes actual or attempted offline contact through mail, by telephone or in person.
The majority of sexual solicitations and aggressive solicitations occur among older teens ages 16-17. Most teens are solicited by their peers or young adults in a very casual way and report not being very bothered by it. Many of them simply block the person who sent the inappropriate request, ask them to stop or leave the site.
What about “predators”?
Although most teens aren’t bothered by sexual solicitations, some lead to dangerous online relationships with predatory offenders (often called “predators”). In these cases, the offenders begin to play on children’s vulnerabilities by offering them affection and attention. This manipulative process is called grooming.
A teen who is being groomed may be:
- Receiving gifts through the mail, like bus tickets, cell phones and webcams.
- Calling unknown numbers.
- Rejecting family and friends in favor of spending time online.
- Getting upset when he or she can’t get online.
- Minimizing the screen or turning off the monitor when you come into the room.
Don’t ignore these signs. Talk to children about what they’re doing online and who they’re talking to. Call the police immediately if you suspect something is wrong. You can also make a report at www.CyberTipline.org.