First Advisor

Jeffrey Robinson

Date of Publication

Spring 5-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Communication






Discourse analysis, Internet and children, Computer crimes, Criminal methods



Physical Description

1 online resource (ii, 192 pages)


The rather novel phenomenon of cybergrooming, or the solicitation of minors for sex via the Internet, has yet to be fully explored. This is a problem because such predatory behavior can lead to psychological and/or physical abuse of minors. The present study seeks to fill this knowledge by performing a qualitative, grounded theory analysis of naturally-occurring cybergrooming discourse. Data were drawn from the website of the online watchdog group, Perverted Justice. The first 20 lines of talk transmitted by the adults in these chat conversations were sampled from 100 transcripts published by Perverted Justice.
Multi-step coding, facilitated by the qualitative analysis software Atlas.ti, revealed 11 themes of social action that discursively emerged in at least 25% of said transcripts: (1) conversational openings; (2) initial solicitation of age, sex and/or location; (3) specific questions regarding 'child's' life; (4) follow-up topicalization of 'child's' location; (5) seeking visual images of 'child;' (6) complimenting 'child's' appearance; (7) soliciting topic for discussion; (8) explicitly sexual statements; (9) soliciting 'child's' age preference for sex/romance; (10) arranging further contact; and (11) disclosing personal activities. These themes are then explored in their own context, in relation to each other, and as elements of the broad behavioral framework of cybergrooming.


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