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Becky’s own descent into this terrifying world began at the age of 15, when her boyfriend, to whom she lost her virginity, dumped her and made cruel taunts about her size 16 figure.
She took refuge in anonymous chat rooms, controlling her image with flattering photographs.
Young people can easily go on sites where they can connect with strangers — sometimes six or seven at one time.’Verity, 16, an A-level student from Cheshire, has been using My Space, MSN Messenger and online chat rooms to meet men for two years.
She admits it’s become a round-the-clock preoccupation as she’s constantly inundated with messages.
My mum thought I was over at my friend’s house the whole time.’It would be easy to assume that such a degrading experience would put Becky off internet ‘dating’ for ever.
When we posted pictures of a respectably dressed Daily Mail writer under a false name, the profile attracted more than 70 messages within an hour from men wishing to indulge in sex — cyber or real.
Researchers at the university found that one in ten 16 to 24-year-olds have used the internet to set up one-night stands with strangers.
Half of those surveyed have carried out explicit sexual behaviour over a webcam, while 40 per cent of 11 to 18-year-olds questioned admitted knowing friends who engage in ‘sexting’ — sending explicit messages or photos between mobile phones.
To add to concerns, mobile ‘dating apps’ are being created which allow people to locate strangers in a specific geographical area for ‘hook-ups’.
The University of Plymouth study was published just days after an inquest earlier this year heard that bullied teenager Simone Grice, 15, of Illogan, Cornwall, killed herself by leaping off a motorway viaduct after trying to bolster her self-esteem by meeting older men online.
The men were always in charge, they’d obviously been watching a lot of porn and would ask me to replicate things they’d seen in videos.