Online predators, or Internet predators, are persons who use the Internet to prey upon or exploit vulnerable individuals for their own nefarious purposes. Victims include children as well as lonely, vulnerable, and senior adults. Because this phenomenon is relatively new—arising with the increasing popularity of the Internet and social media since the late 1990s—law enforcement and governments have struggled to prevent online predation. This entry reviews some of these legal struggles and then discusses strategies for protecting children and vulnerable adults from online predators.

Legal Responses

While various jurisdictions have enacted laws to restrict and monitor convicted predators, they are not without criticisms. For example, in the United States, concerns have been raised about how such laws affect offenders’ rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. ...

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