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Provocative Online Portrayals Can Get Teen Girls in Trouble
Date:5/26/2009

Study found they raised the chances of online advances, offline meetings

TUESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Teenage girls who picked provocative representations of themselves and put those online were more likely to be approached sexually and to meet the individuals who approached them, a new study has found.

"The ways in which adolescent females present themselves online as potentially provocative is correlated with the number of sexual advances they're getting online with people they don't know," said study author Jennie Noll, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati, Children's Hospital Medical Center. "The number of sexual advances in turn is directly related to the number of times they agree to meet offline," she said.

"I wouldn't let my daughters walk out of the house in scantily clad clothes with a sign saying, 'Party Girl -- Come Get Me!'" Noll said. "But you see this all the time [on the Internet]. Girls wearing bikinis saying, 'I want to party.' Those are the snapshots that would-be exploiters are going to go to first."

Fifty-five percent of adolescents who use the Internet are on so-called social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace, according to background information in the study.

Previous studies have shown that girls from families with a lot of conflict, who have depression or have been abused and who communicate with strangers about sex are most at risk on the Internet.

For this study, 173 girls aged 14 to 17 were asked to create an avatar and complete a questionnaire addressing Internet use, substance abuse, peers and sexual activities.

An avatar is a digital representation of one's self and is used on Web sites such as Second Life, which allows users to pick from hundreds of body characteristics to describe one's self.

Sixty-nine of the girls had not been physically or sexually abused or neglected; 104 did have such a
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