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The anonymity of the Internet provides the perfect camouflage for a seasoned predator to operate. The predator’s knowledge of certain teenage subjects is as accurate as his or her calculated ability to speak teens’ online lingo.
Offline, pedophiles have typically operated in isolation. Never before have pedophiles had the opportunity to communicate so freely and directly with each other as they do online. Their communication on the Internet provides validation—or virtual validation—for their behavior. They share their conquests, real and imagined. They discuss ways to contact and lure children online and exchange tips on seduction techniques, as well as tips on the avoidance of law enforcement detection.
The Internet has fueled the deviant sexual behavior of predators due to their easy access to both child pornography and to children. Both ignite the sexual appetite of pedophiles. À la carte child pornography depicting kids of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and ages (even toddlers and infants!), is only a mouse click away.
Direct access to unsuspecting children via e-mail, instant messaging, social networking sites, and chat rooms simplifies the sexual predator’s efforts to contact and groom children. Additionally, some teens are placing themselves at risk and willingly talk about sexual matters with online acquaintances.
"Predators are hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet to target kid, to entice kids online–to try to persuade them to meet them in the physical world."
—Ernie Allen, President & CEO, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children