The Relevance of Targets’ Sexual Knowledge in the Progression of Online Sexual Grooming Events: Findings from an Online Field Experiment

Eden Kamar*, David Maimon, David Weisburd

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Although the typical end goal of an online grooming event is to lure a minor into performing sexual activity (either online or offline), no previous study has examined the relevance of targets’ sexual knowledge on the progression of these events. To address this gap, we deployed two honeypot chatbots which simulated young female users in a sample of twenty-three online chatrooms, over a period of three months. The first chatbot simulated a sexually knowledgeable target while the second chatbot simulated a sexually naïve target. Findings from 319 online grooming events indicate that an online grooming event is more likely to progress in the presence of a sexually knowledgeable target. Moreover, we find that online grooming events with sexually knowledgeable targets lasted longer than online grooming events with sexually naïve targets. Finally, we found that sexually knowledgeable targets were more likely to be solicited for offline encounters than sexually naïve targets.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)452-473
Number of pages22
JournalJustice Quarterly
Volume41
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group on behalf of Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Keywords

  • Online sexual grooming
  • honeypot
  • routine activity theory
  • sexual knowledge
  • suitable target

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