A Part of Reality
– on Children, Sexual Abuse and the Internet
How common is online abuse? How is the health among children who have been abused? Can online abuse result in equally serious consequences as abuse that occurs offline?
In this report, we summarize the results of various research studies. Much of the material is derived from a national study that was carried out by Linköping and Lund universities, within the framework of the mission that the Children’s Welfare Foundation was assigned by the government. The purpose of this summary is to disseminate the study’s most urgent research findings to a wider audience.
In Sweden, the internet is now part of reality for children and young people. They use it to play games, watch videos, listen to music, find out facts, read the news, buy and sell things, hang out, get to know new people, flirt, send messages, share photos and videos…
As with the rest of our daily lives, online life entails encounters with both good and bad phenomena. And just like in other arenas, children can be exposed to sexual abuse online, both by other children and young people and by adults. It is important that everyone who works with children learn more about internet-related abuse. Knowledge is necessary to prevent these attacks and to help children who have been abused to obtain the protection and rehabilitation to which they are entitled. Sexual abuse can and should be prevented, and preventative efforts must be based on knowledge and facts.
Åsa Landberg is a certified psychologist and a certified psychotherapist, and works for the Children’s Welfare Foundation. Linda Jonsson has a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and is a senior lecturer of child and adolescent psychiatry at Barnafrid, Linköping University. Both authors have extensive experience in working with children who have been sexually abused online.