…First you must have suitable bait. Then you can set a trap.
Content warning – non-explicit discussion about sexual predators and child abuse bellow the fold.
I have just returned from an annual get-together with my friends from studies, which happens twice a year. Bachelors are a minority by now, nearly everyone got a spouse and a few kids. Most of the kids are still of kindergarten age, but there are a few girls between 8 to 12 years in the group right now.
One of my friends, father of two boys, plays guitar rather well, and on top of it he has a 12 string guitar, which is not too common among casual musicians. So of course he is popular among the girls and one evening they all disappeared in one room with him so he can play and they can listen without being disturbed by (and disturbing) the IIHF 2019 watching and general carousing that took place in the communal area.
One of the mothers when she heard of this immediately went and checked that guitar play is the only play that takes place.
When I heard about this the next day, my first reaction was “what, why would she do that, we know each other for decades?”, but my second reaction immediately after that was “uh, that is actually completely reasonable reaction on her part”. Because that scenario had “creep potential” written all over it and the sad truth of the matter is that one cannot recognize sexual predator by merely looking and not even by spending a few years on university together and a few days a year each year after that. As much as I do not like the idea, there might be sexual predator among my friends. And whilst my null hypothesis is that none of them are, and I treat them as such, that can change should evidence to the contrary emerge.
In light of this event a shiver went down my spine when just today morning I have read about a project “V síti” (On the web), a video documentary made by czech documentarian Barbora Chalupová. She employed three adult actresses who could visually pass for an adolescent and those women have created false profiles on Facebook, where they pretended to be just twelve. The women were instructed to be passive, they did not explicitly set out to trap anyone and they were forbidden to be flirtatious and actively try to lure anyone in in any way. They also were clear from get go in stating on their profile pages that they are just twelve years old. Even so, in just ten days they were approached by over two and half thousand (!) men, many of whom tried to solicit nude pictures from them or sent nude selfies, dick pics or pornographic pictures (including bestiality and child pornography) to them. Some initiated video chats of explicitly sexual nature with them via Skype. About twenty men solicited and went to an actual in-meatspace meeting with the presumed adolescent. In one case, the man even came with his female partner and they tried to lure the presumed adolescent to a threesome somewhere out-of-town.
Ages of the creeps varied from twenty to sixty. Many of them did not even try to hide their identity in any way and engaged the actresses from their official facebook profiles, where they posed with their spouses and kids. In the documentary their faces are blurred to avoid vigilante justice and lynchings – but their voices are left intact. Close friends and family members will probably be able to recognize them, blur or no blur, although there is also the voice distortion through crappy microphones to take into account.
This last bit is why the shiver went down my spine possibly more than it otherwise would. Not because I have anything to fear for myself of course – I never felt the urge to have anything with adolescent girls, except for the short and long forgotten period of my life when I was an adolescent boy, so there is 100% guarantee of 0% me in the documentary – but because I am not sure how I would react and what I would do should I recognize a friend or a family member in there? I did not recognize anyone in the trailer, and there probably won’t be all 2500 creeps in the full documentary for capacity reasons alone, so the chances that some of my about twenty friends are in that sample of perverts is very slim. But that possibility is there, it is real and it is disconcerting.
I find it completely unsurprising that some of the actresses and staff working on the documentary needed professional psychological help afterwards. I feel rather sick myself just reading, and writing, about it. Being actively involved and having to communicate with the predators must have been extremely taxing on the psyche.
Please, if you have kids, be careful about what you let them do online and with whom. As much as I hate to say that, every man online is a Schrödinger’s sexual predator.