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National Juvenile Online Victimization Study & Criminal Justice Barriers to Investigation and Prosecution of Juvenile Online Victimization

Summary. These are two related projects. The first, the National Juvenile Online Victimization Study (N-JOV), is funded by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. It will look at the incidence and characteristics of juvenile online victimization cases, including sexual exploitation and child pornography cases, in the criminal justice system. The second project, Criminal Justice Barriers to Investigation and Prosecution of Juvenile Online Victimization (CJB) is funded by the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. It will catalogue and describe barriers to the investigation and prosecution of juvenile online victimization cases.

Background

As Internet use among children and adolescents has become widespread, concern has grown about the extent to which sexual offenders are using the Internet to gain access to child and adolescent victims and to collect and transmit child pornography.  The full incidence of juvenile online victimization (JOV) is difficult to measure because sexual crimes are often unreported.  However, the number of Internet-related child exploitation cases referred to the FBI Innocent Images program grew exponentially between 1996 and 2000.  JOV cases have received a great deal of publicity, caused much concern among parents, law enforcement agencies, law makers, educators and other child advocates, and become a factor in the debate over Internet regulation.  However, largely because these crimes are a recent phenomenon, information about the characteristics of JOV cases, offenders and victims, and about the concerns and experiences of the professionals involved in cases stemming from these crimes has not been systematically gathered.

The goals of the JOVIS project are to:

1) Provide sound national estimates of the number of juvenile online victimization cases ending in arrest during a one year period (July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2001)

2) Define categories and subcategories of juvenile online victimizations and describe case, offender and victim characteristics

3) Make policy recommendations to increase reporting of these crimes and improve prevention measures and provision of victim services

The goals of the CJB project are to:

1) Describe barriers to the investigation and prosecution of JOV cases

2) Catalogue jurisdictional, evidentiary and other legal issues arising during investigation and prosecution of these crimes

3) Provide data about the disposition of these cases, sentences imposed, and the use of victim services agencies in connection with these crimes

4) Make policy recommendations which respond to investigatory and prosecutorial needs

Methodology

These studies will use mail surveys and telephone interviews to gather quantitative and qualitative data from criminal justice professionals about their experiences with JOV cases.  For N-JOV, the researchers will survey by mail a national sample of law enforcement agencies with varying degrees of experience with JOV cases.  Follow up telephone interviews will be used to gather more detailed data.  For the CJB project, researchers will conduct telephone interviews with investigators and prosecutors.

Projected timeline for findings

An initial report was released in Novembe 2003, followed by additional publications listed on the CCRC website.

For more information, contact:


Janis Wolak or Kimberly Mitchell
Crimes Against Children Research Center
126 Horton Social Science Center
Durham, NH 03824
Ph: (603) 862_4691 (JW) or (603) 862-4533 (KM)
E_mail: janis.wolak@unh.edu or kimberly.mitchell@unh.edu

11/03

Phone: 603-862-1888
Crimes Against Children Research Center
University of New Hampshire 126 Horton Social Science Center
Durham, NH 03824
Fax: 603-862-1122