A cyber predator is a person who engages in sexual activity with a child/children as part of online act or fantasy.
It is estimated that more than half a million cyber predators are online every day. Before the internet, predators who wanted to sexually engage with children had to go where children are, for example a zoo, playground or amusement park. The virtual world today makes it alarmingly simple for pedophiles to make contact and track children.
There are two types of predators on the internet:
1. Those who seek face-to-face meetings
2. Those who are content to collect & trade child pornography.
Fast facts on cyber predators:
- 8 million children go missing every year.
- Child pornography has become a $3 billion annual industry.
- More than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted on the Internet every week.
- Demand for pornographic images of babies and toddlers on the Internet is soaring.
- Approximately 20 new children appear on the porn sites every month – many kidnapped or sold into sex.
- The U.S. Customs Service estimates that there are more than 100,000 Web sites offering child pornography – which is illegal worldwide.
- 40% of people charged with child pornography also sexually abuse children.
- One in five children who use computer chat rooms has been approached over the Internet by pedophiles.
- 13 million youth use Instant Messaging: 1 in 5 received sexual solicitation or approach in last year / 1 in 33 received AGGRESSIVE sexual solicitation
- 25% of youth who received sexual solicitation told a parent.
- A child in human trafficking will be raped more than 6000 times.
- Pornographers disguise their sites (i.e. “stealth” sites) with common brand names, including Disney, Barbie, ESPN, etc., to entrap children.
Online mistakes you make that paedophiles love:
- Not selecting the privacy settings on your social media – e.g. Facebook.
- Posting of sexually provocative pics of yourself online.
- Posting pictures publicly.
- Posting personal information about yourself online – e.g your names , school, sports team, ‘’checking-in”, town , cell number, favorite music, TV programs, a birthday party invitation.
- Accepting friend requests from someone you have never met.
- Visiting chat rooms & interacting with online strangers.
- Playing online games against people you don’t know.
- Placing strangers on buddy lists.
- Sending personal information to strangers.
- Visiting X-rated sites.
- Talking about sex with strangers.
Five types of Paedophiles
The Fixated Immature paedophile
Loves children and feels they understand children. They are uncomfortable in adult relationships. Although this type doesn’t want to hurt children, they are extremely difficult to rehabilitate as they do not see anything wrong in what they are doing.
The Regressed paedophile
Could be or has been in an adult sexual relationship. However, a “trigger” threatens their masculinity; this could be negative comments from their partner. “They know that as adults they are adult they are more intelligent and children will not reject them,” says Bezuidenhout. Relationships with children are a way of regaining control in their lives. They may feel guilty and have a better chance of rehabilitation.
The Exploitative paedophile
They may engage in activities like making or viewing pornography and have little regard for the physical or emotional wellbeing of the child. They actively seek sexual conduct with children and see the child as a sexual object. Extremely difficult to rehabilitate.
Aggressive or sadistic paedophile
Seeks children for both for sexual and aggressive reasons. Has a long history of anti-social behaviour. They seek to inflict pain and that gives them sexual excitement. Very rare and very difficult to rehabilitate.
Attracted to children who are just reaching puberty and are between the ages of 14 and 16.
Source: Prof Christian Bezuidenhout, Professor of criminology at The University of Pretoria.
Child grooming comprises actions deliberately undertaken with the aim of befriending and establishing an emotional connection with a child, to lower the child’s inhibitions in order to sexually abuse the child. Online grooming is when an adult makes online or phone contact with someone under the age of 16 with the intention of establishing a sexual relationship. This is a criminal offence and occurs in the communication, so you never have to meet this person face to face for them to be investigated and charged.
Child grooming may be used to lure minors into trafficking of children, child prostitution or the production of child pornography.
Groomers Use Tricks.
Grooming is a subtle (hard to notice), gradual (slow), and escalating (more and worse over time) process of building “trust” with a kid and often the kid’s parent or other caretaker. Grooming tricks include:
- Fake Trustworthiness – pretending to be the kid’s friend in order to gain their trust
- Testing Boundaries – jokes, roughhousing, back rubs, tickling, or sexualized games (pants-ing, truth or dare, strip games, etc.)
- Touch – from regular, mostly comfortable non-sexual touch to “accidental” touch of private parts, often over time
- Intimidation – using fear, embarrassment, or guilt to keep a kid from telling
- Sharing sexual material – capitalizing on a kid’s natural curiosity to normalize sexual behavior by showing pictures, videos, text messages, photos, websites, notes, etc. of a sexual nature
- Breaking Rules – encouraging a kid to break rules, which establishes secret-keeping as part of the relationship and can be used as blackmail in the future
- Drugs and Alcohol – breaking the rules (see above) and/or making kids less able to stop the abuse because they’re under the influence of the substance
- Communicating Secretly – texting, emailing, or calling in an unexpected way (parents don’t know about it, it happens a lot, the kid is told to keep it a secret)
- Blaming and Confusing – making the kid feel responsible for the abuse or what could happen to the kid, his/her family, or the abuser if the kid tells.