A cyber predator is a person who engages in sexual activity with a child/children as part of an 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 engage with children sexually had to go where children are, for example, a zoo, playground or amusement park. The virtual world today makes it alarmingly simple for paedophiles to make contact and track children.
There are two types of predators on the internet:
1. Those who seek face-to-face meetings with children
2. Those who are content to collect & trade child pornography.
Fast facts on cyber predators:
- Eight million children around the world go missing every year. A missing child is a vulnerable child.
- In South Africa, a child goes missing every 5 hours.
- 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 porn sites every month – many kidnapped or sold into sex trafficking.
- 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 paedophiles.
- 13 million youth use Instant Messaging: 1 in 5 received sexual solicitation or approach in last year / 1 in 33 received an 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 familiar brand names, including Disney, Barbie, ESPN, etc., to entrap children.
Online mistakes you make that cyber predators love:
- You are not selecting the privacy settings on your social media – e.g. Facebook.
- You are posting sexually provocative pics of yourself online.
- You are posting pictures publicly.
- Posting personal information about yourself online – e.g. your name, school, sports team, ‘’checking-in”, town, cell number, favourite music, TV programs, a birthday party invitation.
- You accept friend requests from strangers.
- You visit chat rooms & interact with online strangers.
- You play online games against foreigners.
- You place strangers on buddy lists.
- You share personal information with strangers.
- You visit X-rated sites.
- You talk 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 tough to rehabilitate as they do not see anything wrong with 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 adults, they are more intelligent, and children will not reject them,” says Bezuidenhout. Relationships with children are a way of regaining control of 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 child’s physical or emotional well-being. They actively seek sexual conduct with children and see the child as a sexual object. Extremely difficult to rehabilitate.
Aggressive or sadistic paedophile
A sadistic paedophile seeks children for both sexual and aggressive reasons. They have a long history of anti-social behaviour. They seek to inflict pain, and that gives them sexual excitement. They are very rare and difficult to rehabilitate.
A hebephile is attracted to pubescent children between 14-16 years.
Source: Prof Christian Bezuidenhout, Professor of Criminology at The University of Pretoria.
Child grooming process
Monitor/survey child ? Lure child ? Groom child ? Sexually abuse child ? Discard child
Child grooming comprises actions deliberately undertaken to befriend and establish an emotional connection with a child to lower the child’s inhibitions to abuse the child sexually. Online grooming is when an adult makes online or phone contact with someone under 16 to establish a sexual relationship. It is a criminal offence and occurs in communication, so you never have to meet this person face to face for them to be investigated and charged.
Cyber predators may use child grooming to lure minors into the 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 caretakers. Grooming tricks include:
- Fake Trustworthiness – pretending to be the kid’s friend to gain their trust.
- Testing Boundaries – jokes, roughhousing, back rubs, tickling, or sexualised games (pants-ing, truth or dare, strip games, etc.)
- Touch – from regular, mostly comfortable non-sexual touch to “accidental” contact of private parts, often over time
- Intimidation – using fear, embarrassment, or guilt to keep a kid from telling
- Sharing sexual material – capitalising on a kid’s natural curiosity to normalise sexual behaviour by showing pictures, videos, text messages, photos, websites, notes, etc. of a sexual nature
- Breaking Rules – encouraging a kid to break the 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 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.