October 20, 2006
Kids and the internet. It's a hot debate topic, and two disturbing cases in Aiken bring new concerns to what may be a growing problem: teenagers claiming to be addicted to internet porn abusing young children.
You may be surprised to know just how common this problem really is.
Children logging on to porn and acting out on even younger victims.
It is becoming an alarming trend, and it's happening right here in our own backyards.
Two teenagers in Aiken say their addiction to internet porn led them to allegedly sexually abuse a child.
News 12 is On Your Side with information every parent needs to know.
In the latest incident, a 14-year-old is charged with first degree criminal sexual conduct after a nine-year-old alleges the teen showed him pornography and sexually assaulted him numerous times.
With new technology comes instant access, and what's meant for adult eyes only is just as easily falling into much younger hands.
For Aiken Police Chief Pete Frommer, the problem of kids watching internet porn is increasing in the city.
"They're seeing porn at 6, 7, 8 years old, and it's addictive. It's almost like tobacco and alcohol," he told News 12.
In the last three months alone, two teens in Aiken have been accused of sexually abusing nine-year-old children.
Both teens tell police their addiction to internet porn at an early age led to the sexual assault.
"What these kids do now at 12, 13, 14 is act out what they've seen on the internet all these years," Chief Frommer said.
Betsy McMahon works with sexually abused children everyday at the Cumbee Center. She says it's often about power and control for the abuser, which is why she's not surprised the teens acted out on a younger victim.
"They're older, they're bigger, they're larger, they're smarter," she said. "A 15-year-old is able to manipulate a 5-year-old more than a 24-year-old."
And the numbers on just how often it happens are alarming.
According to the Cumber Center's statistics, one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before their eighteenth birthday...and the average age a child will experience their first instance of sexual abuse is between seven and 13 years old.
"One in ten children will never tell," McMahon said.
It's why she says it's important for parents to not only watch their children while they're on the computer, but to talk to their children about it as often as they can.
"Parents need to discuss with children that it's going to be someone they know or trust," she said.
"A lot of people are seeing this, so that is why it is very, very, very important for parents to take charge," Chief Frommer said.
While there's no clear way of knowing whether your child has been sexually abused, there are a few signs you can look for.
Look for sexual behavior beyond normal age appropriate knowledge, unexplained physical ailments, STDs or self-mutilation.
To learn about more of the warning signs of child sexual abuse, click here.
A new study released today from researchers at Stanford University shows 6 to 14 percent of computer users say they spend too many hours on the internet, sometimes even neglecting work, school and family.
In the study, 2500 adults were asked about their internet use.
Researchers say some people use the internet as a substitute for real social interactions, and real relationships suffer as a result.
For more information about the Stanford study, click here.