By Marzia De Giuli
ROME, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- Some worrying data released on Tuesday, the Safer Internet Day in Europe, showed that young people in Italy have an unbalanced relation with the web and highlighted the need for more protection of minors.
Almost 55 percent of surveyed Italian parents were aware that the internet poses a threat to the mental stability of their children, according to a study of the Kaspersky Lab computer security firm conducted across Europe.
Though more than 10 percent of parents acknowledged that their children were victims of cyber-bullying that occurred on mobile phones and social media websites over the past 12 months, they did not intervene to limit the risk, the study said.
What concerned Italian experts the most, however, was another recent study conducted from Ipsos market research company for Save the Children: nearly 40 percent of adults in Italy consider having a sexual relation with a minor as acceptable, the study found.
Furthermore, more than 80 percent of the surveyed believed that sexual relations between adults and minors were widespread in the Italian society and fueled by the web.
"There are some reasons behind what emerged from these latest studies," Davide Baventore, a developmental psychologist in Milan and a member of the local Association of Young Psychologists, explained to Xinhua.
In the Italian society increasingly centered on pleasure-seeking and power-seeking at all levels, it was not surprising to learn that adults very often give up their role of responsibility, Baventore noted.
"Today there are famous cases of public figures in Italy, also in the political world, who have gained great success despite a controversial personal lifestyle,"Baventore pointed out.
In this scenario, an emotional or sexual relation between an adult and a minor, which is clearly unbalanced both in terms of psychological involvement and stage of life, can give the falsified message of a demonstration of power, the psychologist added.
"In our field experience, we often found out about adults' attempts to interact with children," the CEO at Save the Children Italy Valerio Neri said commenting on the statistics.
"We did not expect such a high degree of tolerance from the public opinion which, in our view, is the sign of a lack of responsibility and disengagement of adults with respect to their role towards adolescents," he added.
Italian postal police last year uncovered and shut down more than 1,600 new pedo-pornographic websites, arresting 55 people and investigating hundreds in related probes, media reports said.
According to the Ipsos research, 28 percent of Italians aged between 45 and 65 have contacts of young people, whom they do not personally know among their friends in social networks.
Some 37 percent were using the web to get to know strangers available for friendship or other types of relations.
On the occasion of the Safer Internet Day, Italy's infancy and adolescence committee in parliament called for the country to introduce education to new media as a curricular subject in schools to promote safe and responsible use of the internet and mobile devices to children and teenagers.
But the main role in preventing that minors fall victims to a dangerous use of the web should be played by families, Baventore stressed.
What is most important, he highlighted, is that parents constantly accompany their children in the use of new technologies in an educational process which starts before they have familiarized with the internet, he said.