Children as Sexual Targets in Cyberspace

School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences
Dr Marika Guggisberg
Associate Professor Jennie Barr


Online technologies have changed the lives of individuals including even young children. These advancements provide countless benefits for health, education and recreation. However, these new ways of removing physical barriers may pose unique risks for vulnerable individuals including children. These risks include sexting and sexual solicitation. Acknowledging these risks, the literature has clearly indicated that it is now considered a child's human right to participate online and being protected from harm and victimisation while doing so. The importance of awareness and education is critically important. Research is required to gain insight into children's internet access, usually through personal devices for social interaction and gaming purposes. The proposed study will enquire about parents' and educators' knowledge of dangers in cyberspace, how they monitor children's online interactions and attempt to identify protective and risk factors. This includes examining prevention strategies implemented in the family home and educational settings and how teachers and parents collaborate to keep children safe in the online space.

The research questions this proposed project wishes to address are:

  1. To what extent are parents/guardians of children aware of dangers in the online space?
  2. What strategies and tools do parents/guardians use to protect their children online?
  3. What guidance do parents/guardians receive from educational institutions?
  4. How do parents/guardians and educators define the concept of 'digital literacy' and what is their assessment of their own digital literacy?
  5. What are parents/guardians' and educators' identified unmet needs in relation to better protecting children from online risk? The proposed study will use a quantitative survey approach.
Medical and Health Sciences| Education| Psychology and Cognitive Sciences
Digital Safety, Sexual Victimisation, Sexting


This project is associated with the International Engaged Research Scholarship, which offers a 20% reduction in tuition fees for eligible international students.

Other special notes

Funding is also provided by CQUniversity to support research higher degree student project costs and to support national and international conference presentations. This includes:

For masters by research candidates:

  • up to $4,000 in Candidate Support Funds
  • up to $3,000 for Candidate Travel Support

For doctoral candidates:

  • up to $6,000 in Candidate Support Funds
  • up to $4,500 for Conference Travel Support