Online grooming legislation: Knee-jerk regulation?

From European Journal of Communication

This study explores whether or not the perceived threats of paedophiles grooming online cause disproportionate legislative reactions. It reviews assumptions about the nature of grooming leading to specific grooming legislation in Norway to see if they match the actual user experiences of Norwegian children in general and those subjected to physical abuse following Internet encounters in particular. It analyses statistical surveys conducted in 2003, 2006 and 2008.

It has demonstrated how the Norwegian grooming legislation was redundant, both legally and practically, when it was introduced. In this sense it represents a knee-jerk regulation. It is a democratic dilemma that redundant legislation is introduced, as is the question of its legitimacy.

 

 

Abstract

The study explores whether or not the perceived threats of paedophiles grooming online cause disproportionate legislative reactions. This is done by reviewing if and how the legislative assumptions about the nature of grooming leading to specific grooming legislation in Norway match the actual user experiences of Norwegian children in general and those subjected to physical abuse following Internet encounters in particular. The expressed political assumptions (about how children use the Internet) leading to the Norwegian grooming legislation implemented in 2007 are compared with the actual experiences of Norwegian children between 9 and 16 years, regarding the same assumptions as documented in nationally representative statistical surveys conducted in 2003, 2006 and 2008. The findings show that the Norwegian grooming legislation was redundant, both legally and practically. The potential implications for prescriptive work, as well as the wider democratic dilemmas are discussed.

 

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Article details

Elisabeth Staksrud
Online grooming legislation: Knee-jerk regulation? European Journal of Communication April 2013 28: 152-167, first published on April 10, 2013 doi:10.1177/0267323112471304

 

 

 

     
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