Caution... though I deal with this news subject carefully and with tact, nonetheless, we are talking about sex offenders. I'm writing about this because I feel very strongly about how dangerous this world is not only for your kids but my future kids.I'm not going to link anything here to any other site, simply because if you want to see for yourself what I'm talking about, you do it on your own. You can either come back in a day or two when something else has been posted, or read on with my warning.
So I'm about to write on a very, very disturbing subject. The desire for sex with underaged girls. You still with me?
On Dateline NBC recently, there was an entire show devoted to catching "Internet Predators". There is a group called Perverted Justice, and they set up fake profiles online, usually as 12 to 14 year old girls, sometimes 13 or 14 year old boys. Posing as these kids, they will go online and just wait in chat rooms. I did some research on Perverted Justice, and here's how they operate:
One of their rules is, they DO NOT message people or initiate conversation. They enter a chat room and simply say "F, 13" or something like that. Then they wait to be messaged... and within minutes, they usually are. And usually, its men. Men who are a little... well, sick. Very sick.
They will only respond to the men's questions--sometimes graphic--but won't ask graphic questions of their own. Instead, they ask informative questions ("where u from?" or "whaz ur name?" or "what u luk lik?") to find out about these guys. Most of these conversations are very, very graphic, and many of them lead to the men wanting to meet who they think are the young teenagers.
The "girl" will ask for a phone number, so "she" can call the guy quickly, just to hear him, or to talk to him for a minute. "She'll" also ask him for a web picture, so "she" can see him. Of course, the guy most always obliges... sending a webshot, then giving his number out. The P.J. staff will quickly verify this number to make sure this guy is who he says he is. When asked for a picture for the guy to see, many times the staff will send a picture of one of the staff members when they were kids. Frequently in the Dateline story, a Dateline staffer sent her picture of when she was 13... and its VERY obvious she's 13 there.
P.J. makes sure all the questions are answered--and they make sure they spell out exactly how old the "girl" is that he's talking to, sometimes saying the age three or four times. And in the course of the conversation via IM or Yahoo Chat or whatever, P.J. makes sure the man's intentions are very clear. And again, they are usually very graphic.
The story on Dateline was really disturbing... Del Harvey, a 23 year old woman with P.J., talks to each of the men at different times, and can do a girls or boys voice for the phone call. NBC and P.J. use the webchats to set up a meeting at a house at a certain time, so each guy that shows up walks in the sliding glass door and is expecting to meet their 13 year old rendezvous... instead, NBC's Chris Hanson walks out with that guy's webchat printed out on paper. Of course, the guy is very surprised, but Hanson starts talking to them, reading them aloud what the man himself had typed in his own webchat.
One guy rode a bus several hundred miles, then walked 2 miles to get to the house. One guy is a teacher at a local high school. Almost all deny that they were going to do anything, even though several show up with liquor, food, contriceptives and even Viagra. Even when Hanson shows them their own chat of what they said they wanted to do, they still deny it. Then, the other favorite excuse is "She said she was (fill in the blank with any age over 18)", which again, Hanson reads to them the very plain conversations that determined the "girl" was 13 or 14.
When the guys leave--or run out--they run right into a group of officers waiting in the street. Over three days, they arrested 50 men... sometimes, the men were arriving so fast, the officers would arrest one and have to hide him because another guy was pulling in.
I then went online and found the Perverted Justice website... which, though scary, makes you proud there are people willing to do what they do, because they have no fear. They post entire webchats, photos and phone numbers of these men so you will know who they are (and they will be shown to others). The chats are VERY sick, so proceed with caution.
"Kristen" is talking to one guy, and sets herself up as a 13 year old, who's parents are divorced and is very lonely. fleet_captain comes online, talks to her and immediately gets very disgusting... by the middle of the conversation, he demands that "Kristen" calls him "Master" and tells her how he is going to punish her.
"Lizzie" gets confronted by Shawn Barnette, who is--was--an Air Traffic Controller in Minnesota. This particular chat was being covered by KSTP News, as they were doing a piece on online predators... the most shocking part was when Shawn sent his picture. It was a pic of him, his wife and his newborn baby. P.J. said that the whole staff, including the tv people, gasped when they saw the picture. Anyway, it got very graphic... turns out, he was ON DUTY when he was talking to "Liz", which means he was on the government's time. He was arrested and lost his job, and is awaiting trial.
These guys are not the scuzzy freakbags you would imagine... well, some are, but actually, most of them look perfectly normal. Fathers, workers, all ages, all occupations... they just all share the same desire.
One thing I like about Perverted Justice, in addition to going after these sickos, is that they completely discourage vigilantism... they also work closely with the police department to cover all bases to make sure that no one can claim "entrapment" or find a legal loophole. Also, they have a big section on what to do if you are seeking help for your problem, and they encourage people to do so.
One big thing that is learned from the Dateline story is that places like livejournal, AOL IM, and especially myspace.com are HUGE targets for online predators. Keep your eyes open, friends. Most of you probably don't have kids, or your kids aren't old enough to really grasp whats going on... but when they get older, help them understand what is safe, whats not safe and how to not trust people online.
For more information, here's a MSNBC article on myspace.com. And here is an excellent article from Chris Hanson, the Dateline reporter, who did an internet blog while the show aired.If you are a stranger here, and you are struggling with these desires, please get help. Call a church or go online and find a Christian site that deals with this. Don't end up on the P.J. site... its not good. Not at all.
And if I see any of you on the P.J. website, I'll personally kick you in the teeth. Hard.