Dating app users at risk for receiving requests to facilitate child sexual exploitation and abuse

Today the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has released a report that examines the experiences of dating app and website users who have received requests to facilitate child sexual exploitation and abuse on dating apps and websites.

The report is based on a survey of Australian dating app users that found more than 12% of respondents had received these requests. Most often these requests related to the respondent’s own child rather than other children they had access to, such as young friends or family members.

AIC Deputy Director Dr Rick Brown said that there is growing evidence that child sex offenders use social media and dating apps and websites to target potential child victims.

“Offenders use these sites to target vulnerable groups or those with access to children. This includes parents, particularly women, those who are younger, or are Indigenous or have a health condition or disability,” Dr Brown said.

Close to half of the users who had received requests to facilitate child sexual exploitation reported being pressured to provide sexual images of their children or children they had access to, more than 69% reported being asked questions of a sexual nature about these children, and around 63% reported being offered payment for photos, videos or live streams of these children.

“The AIC’s continued research into the dangers of dating apps adds to our understanding of the increased need for dating app companies to implement user education and safety features to protect users and their children from harm.

“Users should be discouraged from sharing images of, or information about, children, and dating service providers should prevent users from linking their dating profiles and social media accounts,” Dr Brown said.

This paper builds on previous AIC research released from the survey of almost 10,000 dating app and website users, that showed the prolific use of dating apps to facilitate sexual violence and the sexual exploitation of Australian children. Drawing from the same study, the AIC will release a report on user experiences of reporting dating app facilitated sexual violence to dating platforms next month.

The full report can be found on the AIC website.


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