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Briggs, Simon, and Simonsen (2011) have suggested that there is a distinction between fantasy-driven and contact-driven solicitation offenders.The former group engages in online activities (such as sexual chat, exchange of pornographic images, or exhibitionism via Webcam) that are gratifying in and of themselves, often resulting in orgasm while online.The latter group, in contrast, engages in online activities to arrange real-world meetings; their online activity is more directed toward meeting offline and shorter in duration than the online interactions of fantasy-driven offenders.Briggs, Simon, and Simonsen (2011) identified 30 offenders who were considered to be contact driven and 21 who were deemed to be fantasy driven.
Although it is illegal and is a contravention of social norms about sexual behavior, a sexual interest in young to mid-teen adolescents is not indicative of pedophilia.
Other studies have also demonstrated a link between sexual interest in children and child pornography use through self-report surveys (e.g., Buschman et al., 2010; Riegel, 2004).
These results are consistent with what we know about the modal child pornography image seized by police, which depicts young girls who appear to be younger than age 12 and often depicts children in sexually explicit conduct (Collins, 2012; Quayle & Jones, 2011).
It is hard to obtain precise estimates of Internet sexual offending in the United States, as there is no national system for integrating information about Internet offenders at the state level and there are state-by-state variations in the applicable laws.
However, the National Juvenile Online Victimization Study, conducted in 2000 and again in 2009, indicates that the number of arrests in the United States for Internet sex crimes has tripled over that time (Wolak, 2012; Wolak, Finkelhor, & Mitchell, 2011).