A new report from the University of Victoria suggests that the abuse of girls and women online is rampant and on the rise.

The findings appear to confirm concerns that the internet is a breeding-ground for abuse in light of the continued online attacks against a 16-year-old suspected rape victim from Maple Ridge.

When mother Carolyn Anderson heard about the alleged gang rape last week, she was outraged by the photos and comments about the assault circulating online. She decided to start a Facebook page in support of the victim.

"It's amazing. Twelve-thousand people around the world -- men and women – saying, ‘We're behind you and want to give you support,'" she said.

But amidst the support, there were also offensive comments and jokes about the rape. Most comments were too lewd for publication but two that weren't say, "ah, rape…it has a romantic tinge to it, doesn't it?" and "yeah the girls are never responsible, no sirree, even when walking around half naked and teasing, it's never their fault."

Anderson said she is trying to get rid of any inappropriate comments as fast as she can.

"If you look at the state of the world, violence against girls and women is rampant," she said.

A new study from the International Institute for Child Rights and Development at UVic indicates that girls are increasingly becoming targets of sexualization online but that they are not equipped with the skills to deal with it.

Suzanne Williams, UVic researcher, said that girls are more at risk than boys.

"We interviewed both young boys and young girls and they both recognized that girls are more at risk. When we asked why, they said that girls equated some of their social status to what they did online," she said.

Williams warns that children need more guidance about how to act respectfully online and how to fight back against sexually charged situations.

"Somehow I think we failed kids at the beginning in terms of modelling positive behaviour, recognizing the dignity of girls, recognizing the inherent value of living without violence," she said.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Julia Foy