The last decade has seen a rapid development and growth in the use of computer-based communication and information sharing. Internet or “the Net” as it’s sometimes called, has proven to be perhaps the most popular mass communication medium in the world. As with the phone and the television most of the society has readily adopted the technology, and its spread internationally and its penetration into almost every corner of the educational system and family life, as well as work, is often described as a “revolution”. As one of the first countries outside the United States to be connected to the ARPANET, Norway has quickly developed its use of Internet from a purely researchers tool to being second on the list of European countries where Internet is used daily by its population. Children and young people, in particular, have readily embraced the new communication medium and they utilize it in quite a number of ways.
The Internet gives everyone the opportunity to be anonymous. You may be of any race, sex or conviction and create your own “world”. No one can see you and this “invisibility” is just what makes the Internet a useful arena for grownups who wants to engage children in sexual activities.
Sexual abuse might not only be the grooming of a child, leading on to sexual activities, but also the distributing of what is normally called “child pornography”. The term is somewhat inadequate as this has nothing to do with pornography, but is pictures, films or sound depicting criminal offense. The term “abusive material” has therefore replaced the old term in reports and lectures done by the Police, Save the Children Norway and other institutions working within the field of sexual abuse of children in digital media in Norway. Once a photo of a child being sexually abused is placed on the Internet it will exist in “cyberspace” forever. It is therefore also important to educate both grownups and young people that for every curious click on such material, the abuse continues.
(Short excerpt from my “Expert Commentary” that is to appear in the edited collection “Childhood Sexual Abuse: Issues and Challenges”, by Nova Science Publishers. Accepted for publication on the 30th of March, 2007. )