Entrapping (Suspected) Child Molesters
Is it moral? Does it work?
It goes under various names (Letzgo Hunting, Scum Busters, Creep Catchers etc), but they all operate the same way. They are (well-intended) social-media mob vigilantism campaigns to entrap potential child abductors and paedophiles. The entrapment tactics are simple. Create a fake online profile posing as a young girl, then engage grown men on various dating sites until you can convince one to meet you and then video tape the encounter (and shame the individual). Your first gut instinct to such a tactic might be EEEHAA!!!! caught the (potential) creep (almost) red-handed, lets humiliate him and make him squirm!
But are these tactics actually doing what they claim/intend to do – prevent child abductions or abuse?
Yes paedophiles are bad. Yes paedophiles should be stopped/punished. Yes, our kids should be safe online. But is this growing trend for vigilante “justice” really effective? Actually this is nothing more than mob justice. Sure it makes those (mostly male) vigilantes feel good about themselves and all the public attention they seek/get for their actions certainly boosts their ego’s. But if preventing or reducing child sexual molestation is indeed the actual goal of such activities, where is the evidence that it actually works? There is none and the overwhelming majority of responses from legal, social and professional/psychological sources suggests more harm than good results from these mob justice efforts.
Some points to consider:
1: Beyond a sense of satisfaction, or ego-boost to those engaged in mob justice, what evidence exists that these methods prevent child abduction or abuse?
2: What are the moral implications of this sort of public shaming and entrapment when no crime has been committed?
3: After shaming a suspected paedophile (remember, no crime has been committed), is it not more likely the person may start using more invisible and hidden means to approach children, making him even harder to catch by law enforcement?
4: What if there is currently a legitimate investigation going on and the actions of “creep catchers” negatively impacts the investigation?
5: What if “creep catchers” are using stolen (used without permission) photo’s of young girls for these fake profiles on social media. Identity theft is also a crime.
6: If “creep catchers” shames the wrong person, are they not susceptible to a defamation suit? In fact, if no crime was committed, any public statement or video which suggests or implies the person is a pedophile, could result in a defamation suit.
7: Where do we draw the line when it comes to shaming or punishing people who have NOT committed any crimes, yet we suspect they might?
8: If the goal is sincerely to prevent a possible child abduction or abuse, then why not take these video records and text message dialog’s straight to the police rather than potentially compromising an ongoing investigation, violating any number of laws or potentially destroy someone’s life by mistake? Genuine altruism and selflessness occurs without the need for public recognition.
9: Exactly what additional benefit (determined as reducing the chances for a child being abducted/harmed) is gained by the public shaming process over and above what would/could occur by providing the same material to the police without the Facebook/peer ego boost?
10: Since research into paedophilia shows that men are more likely to offend when their self-esteem is low and stress is high, is it not possible that such an act of shaming could make it even more likely the man will carry through with a real offence?
11: Since child sexual abuse also occurs intra-familialy (someone they know or related to), are we not also reinforcing the mistaken notion that sex offenders are “dirty old men in back alleys” possibly leading to less awareness of possible abuse taking place in the home?
12: If we want to keep our kids safe from online predators, haven’t we already FAILED as parents if our underage kids can go online unsupervised and believe it is acceptable to engage in conversations with grown men?
13: What does the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have to say about these methods?
“NCMEC does not condone investigations by citizens because according to the NCMEC, those actions do not deter predators and can push the predators to move to other locations and become more effective at hiding their identities”. (NCMEC Wikipedia)
Note: Before any accuses me of coming to the defence of grown men (creeps) that go as far as agreeing to meet privately with a young child, I worked with adolescent sexual offenders and sexually abused kids for years. I want solutions that actually work, without breaking the law or jeapardizing the work of the professionals who can actually put them away,
#childabuse #paedophiles #creepcatchers