An exploration of young people’s vulnerabilities to online grooming and sexual abuse

Whittle, Helen Christina (2014). An exploration of young people’s vulnerabilities to online grooming and sexual abuse. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.


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This thesis aims to explore the vulnerabilities of young people to online grooming and sexual abuse, from the perspectives of young people themselves. The thesis is a collection of peer reviewed papers which are published, in press or in submission. The main finding within this thesis is that young people can become vulnerable to sexual victimisation online through multiple routes. A combination of risk factors across various areas of life can increase vulnerability, either over an extended period of time or temporarily. Such risk factors can include difficulties within the family, unhappiness with aspects of life (including self, school, living environment and friends), risking taking behaviour online, non-productive coping and exhibiting personality characteristics such as impulsivity. Grooming is found to be a cyclical, varied and individualistic process and all young people can be targeted; however young people experiencing the risk factors outlined above are likely to require additional protection. Furthermore, findings indicate that the impact of abuse is likely to be associated with the young person’s prior vulnerability, rather than whether the abuse occurred online or offline. This thesis highlights practical ways in which professionals and other adults can protect young people; such collaboration is imperative in order to safeguard young people from online grooming and sexual abuse.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Hamilton-Giachritsis, CatherineUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Life & Environmental Sciences
School or Department: School of Psychology
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare


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