As reported by Tia Ghose in LiveScience, almost one-third (1/3) of teenage girls are meeting people in person after meeting them online. A study published in Pediatrics examined the teenage girls' online behavior. The study specifically observed at risk teenagers and found that at risk teenagers who suffered from some form of abuse where more likely to engage in risky online behavior as opposed to teenagers who were not abused. During the real life meetings, 10% of the girls experienced some form of sexual exploitation.
Unfortunately, teenagers do not have to meet people in person to be victims of Internet crimes. Pursuant to Rhode Island General Laws 11-52-4.2, cyberstalking is defined as whoever transmits any communication by computer or other electronic device to any person or causes any person to be contacted for the sole purpose of harassing that person or his or her family. For the purpose of this section, "harassing" means any knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, or bothers the person, and which serves no legitimate purpose. The course of conduct must be of a kind that would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, or be in fear of bodily injury. "Course of conduct" means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time, evidencing a continuity of purpose. Constitutionally protected activity is not included within the meaning of "course of conduct."
The penalties if convicted include a fine of not more than five hundred dollars ($500), by imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. (b) A second or subsequent conviction under subsection (a) of this section shall be deemed a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than two (2) years, by a fine of not more than six thousand dollars ($6,000), or both.