Abused teens vulnerable after online encounters

Washington, Jan 14 (IANS) Female teens, who have been abused or neglected are vulnerable to greater risks, especially after online encounters, says an American study.

It shows that 30 percent of such teens reported meeting people after online chats, without confirming their identity.

"These meetings may have been benign, but for an adolescent girl to do it is dangerous," says Jennie Noll, director of research in behavioral medicine and clinical psychology at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Centre, who led the study, the journal Paediatrics reports.

"One patient told a story about a guy who started texting her a lot, and he seemed 'really nice.' So she agreed to meet him at the mall, she got in his car, they drove somewhere and he raped her," says Noll, according to a Cincinnati statement.

Moreover, abused or neglected teenage girls were more likely to present themselves online in a sexually provocative way than other teenage girls. Research shows that high-risk, online profiles are more likely to lead to offline meetings, according to Noll.

"If someone is looking for a vulnerable teen to start an online sexual discourse, they will more likely target someone who presents herself provocatively," says Noll, who studied 251 adolescent girls aged between 14 and 17 years, with her colleagues, half being victims of abuse or neglect.

If families installed Internet filtering software at home, it made no difference in the association between maltreatment and high-risk Internet behaviours, adds Noll.

On the other hand, "high quality parenting" and parental monitoring helped reduce the association between adolescent risk factors and these online behaviours," she says.

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