The Shame of it All

Ever see To Catch a Predator on MSNBC? That’s gotta be a tough, but rewarding job. On the one hand you know you’ve prevented a pervert from having sex with an underage child, but on the other hand, you get to see a man whose life has just taken a nose-dive. Or maybe it’s better to say, you get to see the last part of the nose-dive because it started long before the man shows up on the doorstep all because he was looking for sex in the wrong place.

And these aren’t dirty old men in trench coats waiting to flash passersby. As I’ve stated here many times, they’re successful people, prominent people with high-paying jobs, respectable jobs — with despicable interests.

In case you haven’t seen the show, an actress (of legal age, mind you) is paid by MSNBC to pose as a 13-year-old girl in a chat room. Like moths to a flame, predators come to speak in no-uncertain terms about wanting to do sexual things with her. She tells them her age, and invites them to her home claiming that her parents are away. Well, her parents aren’t home, but a camera crew is.

The invited shows up to find the girl. They exchange a few words and she makes a quick exit to “change into something more comfortable” and out comes TV correspondent, Chris Hansen, wanting to talk with the man asking why he’s there. By then it’s too late. The cops are waiting to arrest him.

Some of these predators have feelings of remorse:

Officer: And it was a set-up. Why did you come if it wasn’t to have sex with a 13-year-old girl?

Predator: Just, you know, I was being naive. I didn’t think it would actually happen. I just ruined my entire life over something I knew was wrong. There’s no explanation. There’s no excuses. Everything I’ve worked for up until now and here on out is destroyed. Because—

Officer: ‘Cause you wanted to have sex with a 13-year-old girl.

Predator: ‘Cause I didn’t use my head.

Another predator tries to deny it outright:

Hansen: I’ve got entire transcript here. And no place does it say that she’s 19. I mean, you can go through it. If you find it you can tell me.

Predator: No, no. I believe you. How old did she say she was?

Hansen: 13.

Predator: Wow. Are you serious?

Hansen: She says that right off the get go here.

Predator: I was actually home at that time really drunk.

Hansen: Right.

Predator: I probably didn’t even pay attention to that.

Hansen: So you didn’t even notice that she was 13.

Predator: I didn’t.

Hansen: Yeah.

fww_icon Parental tip

This stuff is real folks. If your child has had any experience, whatsoever, with chatting online, make sure you strike up a conversation with them to find out more. In fact, don’t wait — just do it now to set them straight early.

According to a study done by i-SAFE, 10 percent of teens have been approached online by strangers soliciting sex. That doesn’t mean these kids are to blame. What it does mean is that people are out there who are clever and try to break down a kid’s common sense in an effort to satisfy their (the predator’s) urges. Chat rooms and instant messaging are the tools of choice to get into your home and drive a wedge between you and your child. Close that door now!

Start talking and keep talking with your child to warn them of the dangers that await them online and to keep tabs on where they’ve been. The Web isn’t all bad; you just need to know how to navigate it.

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