A discursive analysis of compliance, resistance and escalation to threats in sexually exploitative interactions between offenders and male children

Sarah Seymour-Smith, Juliane Kloess

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Abstract

There is a notable scarcity of empirical studies focusing on online sexual grooming using real world, naturally occurring data. Limited research with real victims (as opposed to decoys) has indicated that more overt forceful threats are employed by offenders in such interaction; however, they tell us little about how these threats are built up and managed by both parties. Furthermore, the majority of research focuses on female victims, with limited attention paid to male victims. The current study presents a discursive psychology analysis of chat logs between one offender (posing as a teenage girl) and five male victims under the age of 16 years, in order to explore how victims attempt to resist such manoeuvres in situ, and how offenders manage such resistance. The sexualized nature evidenced in our data contrasts with other findings which suggest that boys are not sexually solicited and that interactions with boys are less aggressive and forceful. Our findings demonstrate for the first time how an offender escalated his issuing of threats following victims’ resistance and non‐compliance to requests. Turning points that appeared odd in the online interactions suggest that they may be used to encourage children to be more reflective about any further engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)988-1011
JournalBritish Journal of Social Psychology
Volume60
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to express their gratitude and appreciation to the collaborating law enforcement agency for their assistance, time and effort in providing access to their case material, as well as to the two anonymous reviewers for providing suggestions and ways in which our manuscript could be improved.

Keywords

  • Internet communication
  • online child sexual abuse
  • sexual grooming
  • sexualisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology

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