People of all ages connect to computers and the Internet every day, and this includes teens in high school. Computers are everywhere, at school and at home, while smartphones keep friends connected at all times of the day and night. But they are also a tool for people to commit crimes known as cybercrimes. A cybercrime is any illegal activity that is done using computers or the Internet. There are a wide range of cybercrimes that range from tax fraud to identity theft. Some crimes, however, are more likely to affect high school students than others. Understanding what these threats are is necessary in order to avoid becoming a victim, and it’s also important to know what to do in the event of an online crime.
Types of Cybercrimes
The most common types of cybercrime a teen is likely to face involve bullying, stalking, and solicitation by sexual predators. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that happens through social media, text messages, and email. A cyberbully may send vicious messages to their victim, spread lies by texting classmates, or send embarrassing videos or pictures that spread to other schools and beyond. Cyberthreats differ from cyberbullying, as they are threats that suggest that a person plans to hurt themselves, another person, or their school. Another type of online crime that affects teens is cyberstalking. This is another form of bullying in which a person uses technology to obsessively harass or abuse another person. Technology can be used to monitor a person’s online activities and find and spread private information, and it can even be used to follow the victim’s movements in the real world. Cyberstalkers may also threaten victims and their families.
Solicitation and exploitation are also crimes that often take place over the Internet. There are some adults who go online specifically to solicit sex with high school students. These predators visit chat rooms and social media to strike up an online relationship with someone who is in their teens, but eventually, these predators solicit or share nude photographs or suggest an offline meeting where they attempt to start a sexual relationship, kidnap their victim, or rape them.
Causes of Cybercrime
Many of the cybercrimes that affect teens are caused by the perpetrator’s emotions. People who commit crimes such as cyberbullying are often motivated by jealousy, anger, or spite. For example, jealousy or anger over rumors may cause one teen to start bullying another by sending hateful messages or spreading lies. Insecurity and one’s need to be liked is another cause of cybercrimes, such as sexting and sending revealing pictures of themselves to a person they have a crush on. A pedophile’s sexual urges cause them to stalk teens or younger kids online. Greed is another motivation, for criminals who use the Internet to steal. In some cases, a person may commit a cybercrime just to show that they can. Two of the main causes of cybercrime are ease and anonymity. The ability to easily harass, threaten, solicit, stalk, and steal without being seen is appealing to many who would otherwise fear being caught.
Caution is key when it comes to preventing most cybercrimes. To stop crimes such as cyberstalking, sexual solicitation by a predator, and financial or identity theft, it is important that kids not post their personal information online. This includes one’s phone number, address, school name, or any other personally identifiable information. One should never accept a friend request from a stranger, as this could be someone with harmful intentions. Keep in mind that provocative pictures can be spread to literally anyone in the world and that taking and sending these types of pictures or accepting them from another underage person is illegal in a majority of states. As a result, the person taking or receiving the picture, even if they are a teenager, can be charged with a crime and may even have to register as a sexual predator.
If a cybercrime happens, it is important to know what to do and not do. Don’t retaliate or keep quiet about what has happened. Online crimes must be stopped, and the best way to do that is to report them. People who are bullied or stalked or have information about a threat should tell their parents or a teacher immediately. Save any text messages or images sent by bullies or potential predators, as they are evidence that a crime has been committed. Parents or teens should call the police to report serious online crimes. They may also call hotlines such as the CyberTipline to report cybercrimes such as exploitation.
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- Teen Safety in Cyberspace
- 11 Facts About Cyberbullying
- Youth Internet Safety Survey
- Cyberbullying FAQ for Teens
- What Is Cyberbullying?
- Dealing With Cyberbullying
- Preventing Cyberbullying: Top Ten Tips for Teens (PDF)
- Teen Cyber-Safety Guide
- Many Teens Victims of Sex Solicitation Online
- Cyberstalking: Dangers on the Information Superhighway (PDF)
- High-Tech Stalking Tip Sheet (PDF)
- Internet Crimes Against Children (PDF)
- Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens (PDF)
- Sextortion an Online Epidemic Against Children
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