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What drives the mind of a juvenile cyberdeviant?

New research from the United Statesfound that peer influence and low self-control are associated with juvenile cybercrimes, including computer hacking, online bullying, digital piracy, and viewing online pornography.

The arrest of UK teenager Ryan Cleary for suspicion of hacking major players, like the CIA, Sony, and Facebook, brought to light claimedmental health issues such as autism,attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and agoraphobia.

Cleary, 19, is an alleged member of the “hactivist” collective Lulz Security (LulzSec), which has claimed responsibility for a recent spate of high profile cyber attacks. 

“Top priority is to steal and leak any classified government information, including e-mail spools and documentation,” the group recently announced in an online statement, adding, “Come aboard, we're expecting you ...”

Sophos cybersecurity expert, Graham Cluley, told UK newspaper The Independent: "Hacking groups are deliberately using social networks to publicize what they do and ask for help from members of the public."

"There's a huge amount of bravado, rivalry and boasting within these groups."

Criminologist Thomas Holt at Michigan State University and colleagues surveyed more than 400 middle and high school students and found that those whose friends committed cybercrime were more likely to do the same. Previous research tended to focus on college students rather than younger offenders.

Holt stresses the need for parents’ awareness of their children's social circle and Internet activity. "It's important to know what your kids are doing when they're online and who they are associating with both online and offline," he said in a press release.

According to the study, lack of self-control is also correlated with cybercrimes in middle and high school students, but Holt said this aspect is harder for parents to deal with. "These are the more risk-taking, impulsive kids; they're more likely to act on opportunity," he explained. "So understanding your children's potential for behavior is important as well."

Holt said that parental-control computer programs can help, but noted that children are often able to evade such software.

"It's not just enough to have a Net Nanny," Holt said. "Parents need to be more proactive with their kids and discuss these ethical dilemmas to using a computer, such as whether it's right or wrong to steal music or to download something without paying for it."

As for Cleary, according to UK newspaper The Telegraph, he has a history of troubled behavior and tried to hang himself aged 10. His mother Rita Clearly said her son was obsessed with his computer and the Internet.

"I would have to leave his dinner outside his door and didn’t hardly see him," she told the UK's Daily Mail. "He would only let me into the room once a week to clean it out but apart from that it was off limits."

"He didn’t have a social life and lived through his computer," she added. "He would socialize on the Internet, he didn’t go out at all and didn’t really have any friends."

When she asked her son what he was doing, he said he was working on gaming programs or playing games. But when she threatened to confiscate his computer or remove his Internet access, he told her he would commit suicide.

The study is called "Low Self-Control, Deviant Peer Associations, and Juvenile Cyberdeviance," and was published online in the American Journal of Criminal Justice on June 17.

Source: The Epoch Times
9/7/2012 11:13:11 pm

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