Who Are These Online Groomers?
Judging by the frequency of stings by Ireland and Britain’s “paedophile hunters” it seems the issue of child grooming online is an epidemic, or at the very least much worse than most of us have thought. Who are these vile pieces of garbage and what are their motivations?
I should say that I’m not an expert in this field other than some general psychology training and my analysis is based off of watching numerous sting operations. Although I have a strong opinion, the question is still open for analysis and debate.
The Paedophile Hunters
The concept of posing as a child online in order to lure child sex groomers into the open for arrest first became popular in 2007 by a once-off Dateline NBC segment-turned series hosted by Chris Hansen, “To Catch a Predator.” The show received worldwide acclaim through the Internet and was mainly popular in the United States. The segment was originally inspired by the work of the “paedophile hunter” team Perverted Justice.
Roughly five years after the show concluded, independent individuals in the UK began setting up decoy-child profiles on social media networks and immediately started receiving communications from adults which escalated into obscene and sometimes terrifying sexual chats. These brave teams of volunteers would wait for the groomer to incite a meet and show up with camera in-hand and hold the pervert in place while the police make it to the scene. Shortly afterwards, teams in Ireland and Northern Ireland formed. It’s an interesting fact that most of these hunters have never heard of Perverted Justice or the NBC series. They simply took the initiative themselves.
As a sidenote, my favourite team is Child Protection Awareness, led by the firebrand we know only as Louise. Often times on any given week I daydream about interviewing her on The Anti-Broadcast. Watch some of their live stings to understand why.
What Do the Predators Share in Common?
Unlike in the show To Catch a Predator, we can actually get the answers we want from the livestream stings by the Irish and UK teams. Instead of being entertainment masquerading as news, these streams are for awareness purposes as well as the legal and physical safety of the hunters. This means a stream could go on from anywhere between 40 minutes to 2 hours (depending on how long it takes for Police or Gardaí to arrive on the scene) instead of being packaged to fit in between advert segments. A lot of information can be gleamed concerning the psyche of these sick f***s, and ever since finding CPA on Facebook, I’ve been morbidly fascinated with the process.
While standing there in a public place or sometimes right in their front door, the predators are confronted by at least two team members and at least two security personnel who are disgusted and often angry. With rare exception, the predator denies having ill intentions toward the child(ren) they thought they’ve been speaking to. It is natural for a person caught off-guard to play ignorance in a naive hope it would lessen their punishment.
Nine times out of ten (guestimate) the predator will claim to have some kind of mental disability, anxiety, or depression – not always as an excuse for what they’ve done, but ultimately as a plead for mercy. If the person is foreign, they will ALWAYS use the language barrier or cultural differences as an indirect defense. On occasion, the predator will tell the hunters that they themselves were abused as children. Like the mental health claims, I’m uncertain whether this is just a plead for mercy or if they on some level think it’s okay to do to children what has been done to them.
In my semi-professional opinion, most of them don’t appear to be psychopathic or have Narcissistic Personality Disorder, in the short time I can remotely observe them under pressure. Although this is speculation, it’s a very interesting factor if true, considering the f***ed up s**t they sent to the child-decoys.
Considering the decoys aren’t actually children, they can’t send pictures or show video – even non-sexual content – as none of them would put a real child in that situation. This is highly unusual as paedophiles seem to like receiving, trading, and hoarding images of minors, and even adults would be very reluctant to meet each other if they haven’t first seen each other. An explanation could be that a child taking a photo increases the likelihood of parents discovering the communication or the predator being in even hotter water for having such images – but many of these monsters pester the decoys daily for such images. So I speculate that these people really aren’t operating from a rational state of mind, especially since some of them have admitted in these chats and during the stings that they suspected they were being had. Smart criminals don’t deal with strangers, and when they do they seek as much assurance from the other party as is possible.
Another personal impression I get is that “the thrill is in the hunt” for these cretins. They’re very willing to wait weeks or months before meeting their victim and in some cases don’t show up to incited meetings. They seem to indulge in a fantasy world of sexualising a child’s mind and disgusting games of domination. It makes me wonder whether most of these people are as evil as they make themselves out to be in the chat logs. My impression is backed up by the fact that very few of these people have had prior convictions involving heinous sexual crimes.
Most predators during a sting are reluctant to call themselves paedophiles. Two potential explanations are, either personal embarrassment or a fear of incriminating themselves by video evidence (reducing their potential for an elaborate excuse in court later). Either one is definitely true for some, as in a recent example a man remained silent and refused to self-identify as a paedophile, but later admitted it during an emotional breakdown. As for the rest, when posed with the hypothetical question of “What if your neighbour was talking to your son/daughter like you were talking to the decoy? What would you call him? What would you do to him?”, the predator often remains silent or says “I don’t know.” There seems to be a degree of disassociation with their own thoughts and actions.
The previous two points I brought up are not meant to exonerate these barbarians or suggest that they’re any less of a threat than they are. I’m saying that they’re much scarier than we think. Even though they may go on to do some of the vile things they describe to children, I doubt that they’re fully aware of that side of themselves. If someone were to suggest that they’re possessed by demons, I’d be open to the possibility. A lot of these people admit to being extremely drunk on occasion, others possibly on narcotics but won’t admit to the illegal activity, or are extremely reclusive – known preconditions for being possessed.
I don’t have one set in stone – but I doubt most of these people are as calculated as the image we have in our heads. This means there are potentially several hundred, maybe a few thousand, of these depraved lunatics out there just waiting for a trigger to drive them to these crimes. We have to keep in mind that these predators are filtered – it’s a select demographic of paedophile. They’re the type that mainly operates on social networks, they’re stupid enough and fantasy-induced enough to meet a complete stranger, they have irrational expectations of that stranger, and they actually show up. So this is far from a psychological profile of “all paedophiles.”
Your Thoughts and Comments
I welcome and invite you to share your opinions. If we could crowd-source some kind of psychological profile for these people, we’ll be in a much better position to protect our children.
Concerned About Your Child?
There are plenty of resources online which I’m not going to pick any single link from as I’m unfamiliar with online grooming and can’t vouch for the accuracy of any particular organisation’s information. You’ll have to do some searching and reading of your own, weighing up what sounds reasonable or absurd. Many countries have their own agencies and websites which you can learn and seek help from.
Another option is to talk to your child as an equal, describing your concern, being careful not to give them a complex in the process. You can also try reaching out to some of the Irish and UK grooming hunters on Facebook, as they’ve helped intercept groomers online before.
“Paedophile Hunter” Groups
Show support for the following groups who do an amazing and emotionally-draining job all year around, spending their own money and giving up substantial amounts of time to protect our children.
- Child Protection Awareness (Ireland)
- Dark Justice (Ireland)
- Predator HunTers (England & UK)
- Shadow Hunters (UK)
- Karma Hunters (Ireland)
- Nation’s Kids First (Ireland)
If you have any suggestions for groups that deserve exposure and support, drop them in a comment.