The fear of child predators is something I’m sure every parent thinks about. I think that’s a natural part of the certain worrying a parent will have about their child’s future. But did you know there are ways you could be unwittingly helping a predator? I had the unfortunate experience of encountering a situation like this recently. Barring details that could identify her, the victim encouraged me to talk about it. So that’s what we’re doing.
I hang out a lot on a platform called Discord, which a lot of you are probably already familiar with. For those of you that aren’t, just think of it like a chatroom—it’s a close enough description for understanding. On a pretty routine morning, someone comes into the room with a screen name directly referencing the victim, and starts posting really disgusting pictures of her. Underage ones. They are quickly banned and the pictures quickly modded, but the cat’s out of the bag. Then it happens again, and again, each time with a new account, posting the same pictures. As these things often go, she singles me out as someone she can trust to talk to about it—really not sure why that’s a thing, but it is. Turns out this has been happening to her for the last year, this guy was tracking her across 4 social media platforms and dm’ing these pictures to people she deigned to interact with as well as blasting them as publicly as he could in any shared spaces like Discord servers or Twitter feeds.
This guys motives are a full post worth of analysis on their own, so is the response from these social media platforms, but you may be wondering what this has to do with you as a parent. One thing a predator of any stripe will attempt to do is socially isolate their target, or pick out targets that are already isolated. This person was isolated in many ways. She was still very young, and didn’t have wide reaching social connections, she understood the legal system about as well as any 18 year-old, she lives in a country where pornographic images of any kind are illegal, and very importantly, she was more scared of her parents reaction than she was of the abuse, and would not go to them for help.
I want you to think hard about that last line, I want you to think about times you were young and kept things from your parents out of fear of the consequences. Would a crazed stalker have been one of those things? I’ll be real direct to the dads, at what point has your daughter screwed up so bad that you wouldn’t help her with a stalker? That answer likely is, and should be, that point doesn’t exist. Here’s the question though, does she know that? Might wanna ask. Might wanna make sure she understands that’s not conditional. Make sure your children understand that as long as you’re alive they can’t be 100% isolated.
Oh, and because I seem to have forgotten about mentioning it prior, we did eventually get a good response from Discord, and this seems to have stopped.