VirPed Panel: 31 March 2024

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  • VirPed Panel: 31 March 2024


The below are answers given by selected members of the VirPed forum who are all pedophiles. They are speaking for themselves and not for the organization.

“Andrew Gross” asks:

How do you guys feel about Chris Hansen’s show, as well as people who record encounters with people who they claim were having conversations with underage people? Do you support or oppose recording confrontations with people who try meeting up with minors?

I think that turning the worst day of people’s lives into entertainment speaks ill of society. Those who appeared on To Catch a Predator were attempting to do something wrong, and for that, they should have been dealt with appropriately. What an appropriate response is to such a situation can be up for debate (e.g., should it be punitive, rehabilitative, etc.?), but humiliating people on TV for ratings, especially before those individuals are found guilty in a court of law, is disgraceful. YouTube vigilantes who have emerged since the popularity of To Catch a Predator are in a whole other league of disgust. If these people’s goals are honestly to protect children, they can simply report individuals to the proper authorities instead of turning the confrontations into entertainment value. The fact that they sometimes choose not to report individuals to the authorities only after those individuals have agreed to be dancing monkeys suggests that keeping children safe is not their priority—after all, if they were so concerned about children’s safety and these individuals are so dangerous, it is inexcusable to not report them. It is obvious that many of these vigilantes experience a sick pleasure in humiliating others. They seem to possess psychopathic traits and likely wouldn’t care who they hurt, but because society has collectively decided that pedophiles—regardless of offense status—are subhuman, these vigilantes capitalize on that in order to avoid the criticisms that would rightfully be aimed at them if they treated literally any other group of people the same way. YouTuber Matt Orchard has an excellent video highlighting the cruelty of these vigilantes.

I would further like to add that in keeping children safe, it would probably be far more effective to work towards efforts to destigmatize attraction to children and to create and provide prevention and therapeutic initiatives for pedophiles so that those who feel at-risk can seek support before attempting to abuse children when they otherwise feel that help is unavailable. Then again, I guess there’s not a whole lot of entertainment value in that, and it doesn’t allow for cruelty.

So this is definitely a triggering question. I do not think that this show did anything but fuel the fire of people’s hatred and misunderstandings about what it actually means to be minor attracted. Chris Hanson, Perverted Justice and the producers of this show took advantage of people just for entertainment and ad revenue. Do I think that they helped anyone or prevented children from being harmed, the answer to that is a obvious No.

I have a read that a decent amount of the these guys who in my opinion were probably more situational offenders or minor attracted people with poor impulse control issues, committed suicide while waiting to be prosecuted.

If everyone who was involved with the production of this show actually cared about protecting children they would have spent time convincing these men not to show up at the house offering them support and mental health resources.

I once spoke to someone who did lower-level “pedophile hunting” (where they recorded guys who had gone to meet someone they believed to be underage) and tried to understand what the motivation is to hunt.

I get that the marks, if they were presented with a real minor, might go on to abuse that minor and so I get why decoying is an effective way of diverting them and getting them to realise that this just isn’t OK. It might be a good way to redirect someone toward a prevention program that they might otherwise have lacked the motivation to seek. This is the point that the pedophile hunter persuaded me on.

The hunter and I agreed it would be better if it wasn’t completely stigmatised to even admit that you need such help in the first place. Some guys would go toward help if they felt safe to. Others wouldn’t and so, yes, I can see the case for an intervention sometimes.

Aside from that, though, I cannot agree with making this process into video entertainment. That is extremely harmful. Exposure of this kind can place lots of people in harm’s way. That includes the perpetrator (some them commit suicide, which hopefully is not the outcome the hunters are seeking?) but also the family and friends and maybe children of the perpetrator too.

I have heard horrible stories about wives and kids of men caught this way having to change their kids’ names and up and move somewhere else, leaving their lives behind because the kids are bullied about it, the partner is blamed or told she somehow should have known. The way the stigma transfers to families is completely savage and toxic. You can say well, this is all the perp’s fault and he should have thought about it. Yes, he should, but that is of no use to the bullied kids, and publicising this indiscriminately makes a bad situation far worse. If you want to help with this situation, then swallow your ego and focus your efforts on prevention instead of spectacle.

Hansen’s show terrified me as a kid. It made me feel like the biggest piece of shit in the world. I had never done any chatting online, never intended to, but his show helped convince me that I was just one breath away from becoming a sexual predator. I can agree with what I think the show set out to do. I believe he may really have wanted to help keep children safe. But he did me, and many other MAPs immense psychological harm. I can only imagine how many people did actually kill themselves because of his show.

I hate To Catch a Predator and everything Chris Hansen has done afterwards. It has emboldened vigilantes, including some minors, who go out and do these things themselves, putting themselves and others in potential danger. I felt horrible when I found out that the show ended because it caused an assistant district attorney in Texas to kill himself. There’s no justification for a premise that can drive people to suicide, no matter how much some people will say that nothing of value was lost.

To act upon our attraction is horrible. It literally ruins lives. It’s something I will never condone under any circumstances. However, there was one incident in which a man that Chris Hansen confronted killed himself. Is this what we should aspire to? Maybe some might think so, but It’s a mental health issue, in my humble estimation. Maybe I have an overly soft heart. Maybe living with this attraction has brought me an acute sense of empathy that is not universally common when it comes to this highly controversial issue. Every victim of every single incident of child abuse in every measure deserves compassion and sympathy, of course this is true. I don’t think this conflicts with the sympathy we can have for others too though.

People will never change if they don’t believe that society can ever accept that this is a possibility. We must always allow for this, in the name of child abuse prevention. These people need professional help, not ridicule.

In general, To Catch A Predator and similar sting operations are absolutely not the right way to solve the issue at hand. I understand that children and teenagers getting groomed by adults online is a real problem that can cause devastating harm, but it’s a problem that needs to be solved by prevention organizations and, if necessary, law enforcement, and any arrests or convictions should definitely not be turned into public entertainment. These matters need to be dealt with properly and with care, rather than broadcasted and ruining people’s lives forever, not just the adults getting caught but their families as well, who don’t deserve to be dragged into this mess.

The Black Mirror episodes “White Bear” and “Shut Up And Dance” come to mind when talking about vigilante justice, and how it’s simply cruel and not necessary. Not to mention that people posing as minors online will often act more confident and willing to meet up than actual children would, pushing for the idea of sex a lot more than you would expect of an actual minor. These vigilantes intentionally push people over the edge and encourage them to make the worst mistake of their lives, rather than directing them to therapy options or places like VirPed where they can get help and support.

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