Criminals can be so crafty, and sexual predators are the most creative of all. They’ve always been adept at grooming children, but the online world offers entirely new methods to lure kids into giving them what they want.

For example, in one famous case involving an international child pornography ring that was ultimately busted, the ring members used three creative techniques to encourage their victims to provide sexual content:

  • Dares—Ever play Truth or Dare? Well, this is a bit like that, involving ring members daring the children they were talking with online to do small things, like taking off articles of clothing, and graduating to bigger dares, like engaging in actual sex acts which, of course, were being recorded and shared among group members.
  • Polls—Ring members would create “fun” polls to engage the children, asking them to vote on the attractiveness of a particular young person. These polls would then get more sinister, asking the children to vote on what the person should do next (for example, remove clothing, masturbate, or engage in sex acts).
  • Competitions—Ring members would pit one child against another and give points to them for doing “daring” things, such as taking off their clothes, showing their private parts, or performing specific sex acts—all on camera, of course. The kids were encouraged to win as many points as they could in order to get to the next “level.”

These types of lures are so insidious and so effective because kids love games, they love to win, and they’re eager to please others. It must have been like shooting fish in a barrel.

Talk with your child before he’s allowed to use the Internet or a smart phone (or gaming system that’s online) about not engaging in so-called “games” or polls with people he doesn’t know IRL (in real life). I’ll offer more tips on how to talk about digital dangers with your child in the next blog.

Be the parent your child deserves!


the Badass Grandma

About CJ Scarlet

CJ Scarlet, aka the “Badass Grandma,” is a danger expert, victim advocate, and crime survivor herself. Most importantly, Scarlet is the doting grandma of three precocious toddlers. CJ has given speeches and workshops at national and international events; and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including MSNBC and NPR.

The former U.S. Marine photojournalist and forest firefighter holds an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Humanities with an emphasis on human violence from Old Dominion University. Named one of the “Happy 100” people on the planet, CJ’s story of triumph over adversity is featured in two bestselling books, including Happy for No Reason and Be Invincible.

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