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back to article Man posed as teen lesbian to snare girl's nude photos

A Maryland man has admitted he posed as a teenage lesbian to trick a 15-year-old girl he met online into sending him sexually explicit photos. Michael Speelman, 52, of Adelphi, Maryland, went on to feign the suicide of "Lisa Stauffer" - his teenage lesbian alter ego - after she and the victim had established a romantic …

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Unhappy

Srlsly. In what world are we living?

And spare me the "think of the children" bull. The problem is twofold in my opinion.

1) WTF are 12-yo doing unsupervised on the web with apparently no clue whatsoever? Surely they don't have their own connection, nor can they afford computers or smartphones by their own means whithout the parents knowing?

2) WTF can lead 40-yo men to such behavior? I mean they clearly weren't pathological "paedos", one even went on to post the images on the web. Are we really leaving in such a ridiculously prude society dominated by image that the only way for a (presumably/preferably overweight and social misfit) man to get his rocks off is to trick sub-teens into sending him webcam-standard "nude" (read "bare chest", probably) pics? (this is a rhetorical question.)

Also, how come that you get 20 years behind the bars plus a big red stamp on the rest of your life for getting tittie pics from a teen, when you get away with a mere slap on the wrist and a job for the feds for stealing a few thousand identities and emptying families' bank accounts? Would this guy have even been prosecuted if he had obtained a credit card number and expiry date instead of bare chest pics?

Will the girl be considered as a victim by her parents, and pampered even more, or will she get the spanking she (and her parents) rightly desserve? In the latter case, where can I get the vid? (erm, sorry).

Lastly, amongst the crowd of horrified parents who will no doubt ask for the guy's nuts, how many will actually learn the lesson and monitor their sprog's online activities? Or at least try and educate them? I'm guessing not too many.

This is pathetic from start to finish. The offenders are pathetic, the "victim" girls are pathetic, their parents are even below pathetic, and the way it's being handled is pathetic. Don't even get me started on the right-wing nutters who will take this as a reason to ban cameras on beaches or around schools, and to jail any male who happens to lay their eyes on their precious offspring in the street.

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Welcome

This wouldn't seem particularly bad

I mean hey, we all fantasized about the cute girl in class when we were teenagers, right?

Some people clearly just have trouble shutting off every memory of that when they turn 16/18/21/whatever the law requires. When I'm 52 I sure as hell won't have forgotten my 15 year old girlfriend (from back when I too was 15). I wonder if my memories of those hot, sweaty nights are legal or not. A photo certainly wouldn't be, even if I'd been the one who'd taken it of her back then with her consent. What I guess I'm saying is that he's probably just stuck in the schoolgirls-are-hot phase of development and so probably isn't an evil guy like that nursery nurse woman from a few weeks ago that everyone's probably forgotten about.

And pretending to be someone they're not? Everyone does that online. From the teenager clicking the "yes, I'm totally over 18" button on a porn site to modifying your facebook profile pic to get rid of that irritating spot. The whole lot's just a web of lies an deceit...

But then there's the pre-pubescent stuff. And that's just wrong (assuming it's not a cartoon- remember that those funny simpsons pics you got emailed last week are soon to be kiddie porn). Saying that it quite possibly stems from the schoolgirl thing, so could probably be psychiatrist-ed out of him. Or at least pared down to a slightly more socially acceptable ephebophilia.

And the icon choice is because- by the sounds of it- he should be walking over a psychiatrist's welcome mat rather than that of a high security prison for a 20 year term of having the crap beaten out of him.

Or should I just say he's a sick freak that should be shot? Probably a more popular answer...

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WTF?

Think of the children

Hmmmm your post is more like "think of the paedos"

Your argument seem to be

1. She was too young to be using this technology - her parents should have been monitoring her all the time

2. Flabby middle aged men can't find satisfaction in any other way.

3. This is all "pathetic" rather than a criminal exploitation by a predator.

From the story, it sounds like he conducted a very sneaky campaign to get the pictures, followed by blackmail. To me this isn't a "world gone mad, prudish, disproportionate sentence" story...

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FAIL

paedos easy political target

Yes they are scum. Yes they deserve long jail sentences. Still they make for big headlines and have little political power generally so they are low hanging fruit for those in the legal system looking to climb the ladder and get theirs. A better question is why are the feds not going after all the far worse scum that run the too big to fail Wall St. institutions that are truly destroying our society and our future economic security? It couldn't be because they decide who gets elected and are the true kingmakers. The corruption in western society is almost as bad as Zimbabwe, it is just hidden better, and the sheeple go along better so the house of cards lasts longer.

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Anonymous Coward

One question

does the guy have a t-shirt bearing the slogan "Nobody knows I'm a lesbian"?

@ ElReg!comments!Pierre: I think you just outed yourself as a closet paedo

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I have to agree

Balanced response. No supervision, sad men with lots of spare time and extreme overreaction.

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Problem in communication

I can't believe that these offenders strike it lucky first time nor can they have a one to one success rate. Obviously they must get rejections while they are honing their skills unless there is some infallible how to guide for the would be predator which I seriously doubt. Hence, for every girl these people snare there must be tens if not hundreds that don't take the bait. Which is where the problem in communication is, the problem is between children and parents. It's all very well telling your children of the dangers of the internet but they also need to know that should something inappropriate be suggested to them then they should be confident enough and comfortable enough to tell you.

Whether you then have confidence in the police to actually do something about it and follow up on it is a different matter.

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@ElReg!comments!Pierre

Although I'm a father of three (two girls), I completely agree with your comments. Children need to be educated about online pervs just as we were educated not to accept sweeties from pervs outside the school gates.

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@Pierre

Couldn't say it better - when my children grow up, until they're 18 they won't have free access to a PC nor a webcam... Very stupid parents!

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Grenade

Blame the parents

@Pierre

It's never the parents fault, you should know that by now, kids are badly behaved in schools because of the schools, never the parents at home.

Blame does depend on the class of parents too. If you're a working class family and you leave your 3 kids in a hotel room while you and some mates go to a tapas bar to get drunk and say one of them gets kidnapped, then the other 2 get taken off you and you go to jail. If you're middle class you get to tour the world crying about how bad it is while people send you money.

Go figure

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Headmaster

I email these stories to my young daughters......

just to show that everything on the internet isn't what it says it is.

And in reply to a previous poster. You cannot/should not supervise all children's use of the internet. You need to educate youngsters as to the sort of assholes which hang around chatrooms 'getting down with the kids'

And before everybody starts calling me a bad parent and we deserve everything we get. It is estimated 50 Million people are driving PC's full of scam ware/phishing ware. Should we supervise all their web access no. They need to be educated to know what is right and what is wrong.

Maybe a set of Darwin'esk awards for people that do dumb things on the internet and email them around the young/naïve/stoopid.

Forewarned is forearmed. Lesson over

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Pierre...

Did your attention drift before the end of the article, when the ten videos of prepubescent girls were mentioned? That isn't ephebophilia, that's straight-out paedophilia - and whilst I concur that the parents should not be permitting unfettered internet access, to conclude that the fact they did somehow excuses the middle-ages scumbags in question is... bizarre.

Anyway, kids aren't expected to display the same judgement as adults. This is why they can't drink, vote, drive, marry, or - crucially in this case - GIVE CONSENT.

Return to your list of 'fings wot pierre finks is paffetic', and kindly add yourself.

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@ElReg!comments!Pierre

I get asked (as I assume a lot of people here do) for advice about buying computers. If they have kids I always say ' Don't let and under 16 year old have unsupervised access to the internet'. Get a nice family computer in the living room or kitchen until then, get several if you like but don't let them hide in their bedrooms. As a parent you don't have to oversee everything they do just being around is enough to keep a lid on the worst excesses.

None of them ever take my advice.

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Anonymous Coward

@By ElReg!comments!Pierre

"1) WTF are 12-yo doing unsupervised on the web with apparently no clue whatsoever? Surely they don't have their own connection, nor can they afford computers or smartphones by their own means whithout the parents knowing?"

Are you actually expecting every parent to monitor every device that a child get close to. phones / computers. etc. I think you need to live in the real world.

The easiest way would be by phone, most kids that have one now have some form of top up system that still lets them have facebook access for example. So uploading and sending pictures and video is no easy. there is no way it can be controlled unless they don't have the devices, but there will always be a friend that has one.

H.

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@ ElReg!comments!Pierre

And you are qualified to comment how exactly? Neither the victims or their parents are pathetic.

1. 12 year olds and younger and teenagers are going to get onto the Internet unsupervised whatever any parent tries to do. You may not have been a teenager, but most people I know managed to do things that their parents disapproved of between the age of 10 & 16.

2. Every parent I know (myself included), and also both primary and secondary schools, explain the dangers and try to educate children to use the Internet responsibly. Sometimes teenagers think they know better - how odd.

Of course there is an over-reaction in some quarters that leads to over-cautious schools banning cameras at school concerts, etc., but blame the media for that, not the parents and certainly not the children.

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Flame

What he said

You tell them Pierre.

I only want to add: why is this newsworthy? It might give dirty old men ideas. The media in general have a "gentleman's agreement" with the police not to over-publicise suicide cases as it can give people ideas. Why not the same on this sort of thing?

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@ElReg!comments!Pierre

As a parent im not outraged at the story and / or your comments

i wont be allowing my kids webcams till they are older and will have full view of what they will store on their computer Preferably synching all data devices with my hdd

But i have to admit if somebody tried blackmailing my kids with dirty photos they would get a smack in the face with a 40 port switch !!! (the kids get spanked with only a 8 port router)

I think thats the worst part of the story the fact he was blackmailing kids :/

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Black Helicopters

@Srlsly. In what world are we living?

And what all the commentators and reporters ignore is the research that shows that 25% of those abused sexually are abused by women.

Also what about the latest nursery school case.

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Anonymous Coward

How do you really protect them?

The other guy posted the stuff he got on the web in a place where the girl got to see them and was subsequently caught! Well talk about stupid.. Lucky these people are that stupid.. But what about those out that aren't. Unfortunately, I wouldn't be surprised if these are tips of the iceberg.

Whilst I agree that they are all to blame for this, I'm not looking forward to policing the net for my kids. You search for something innocent and you get something not so innocent. Just type in any girls' name with safe search off on Google (or even with it on) and kids can turn that off at any time anyway. Kids are not stupid - My Dad taught me the basics of the computers and soon I was racing ahead of his knowledge. Most parents are not that IT literate and I fail to believe that any child-proofing software is completely full proof. Especially with kids working out ways around things all the time.

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Rezbians

I'd say more than half of the 'women' who contact me online are men. It's kind of annoying as I don't give out nekkid pictures, I don't do cam sex (although I will talk to people on cam - partly to determine whether or not I'm *actually* talking to another woman).

Pro-tip for teenage girls - ask to see your 'friend'. On cam. Don't give out more personal details than you have to (your MSN and nothing else), and if they make excuses - block them.

And, to the hairy, sad fuckers who do this... piss off.

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I love you Pierre

will you cam for me? xx

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Megaphone

On what part of the world are we focussed ?

Perhaps we are losing our way by paying greater and greater attention to the internet / mass-media and the manner in which they reflect our lives. Too much of our lives, and worryingly, our childrens lives, is being played out via this conduit. It is a mirror of human activity, however distorted that might be in some ways. It highlights extremes above the norm and maybe we fail to take account of this.

Are we dragged into the net-view of the world / ourselves with far more ease than stepping back and taking a rational view of the way our lives are being driven by it. A minority of perverts and loonies enjoy the annonimity afforded by this medium. They will drift towards any means that puts a potential victim or mark in a position of weakness and the way in which we use, rely on, the internet for communication allows for that. There is a lot of sound advice out there for parents to make use of in making the internet experience safer for their children.

Education has to help, perhaps mandatory Net-Saftey classes in our schools and colleges would work? Most kids love the medium for the instant access to mates and on-line gaming etc. And most kids are brought up to be aware of potential dangers in the 'real' world. But, sadly, the world has always had nasties in it and they show no signs of going away any time soon. Our channels of communication are evolving faster than we can adapt to them and ensure a safer virtual world.

Participating in any on-line activity is not unlike having a loud conversation on a very crowded station platform, there are peeps busy doing different stuff in all directions at once, but also moments when your interaction with one or two people is shared by the many around you. I don't think there is a single answer for the potential problems we can all be exposed to over the internet and I'm not sure I have any answers at all. But if you can educate your kids about drug abuse you can educate them about taking care whilst on-line.

Maybe the fact that this medium can seperate our traditional family and friendship structures, whereby individuals can choose to co-exist in both 'real' and 'virtual' worlds, almost simultaneously, and the virtual world allows you to lock-out your parents (groan) or any other individual you choose to prevent accessing your own 'world' for a moment. How much communication is done these days twixt parents and kids using mobile phones, I mean they're great devices for checking on lunch money status or sports kit preparation, but this is no replacement for all siting down together for an evening meal and chatting in the 'real' world about the 'real' world, and any 'virtual' worlds that may be contained therein.

We need eachother even more in these times of technological advancement, but the same technology can pull us further apart!

(sorry for going on and on a bit there)

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@ ElReg!comments!Pierre

Amen to that!

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Grenade

i've always been

The following may require seasoning.... (thats a pinch of salt for you less subtle types.)

[quote]WTF can lead 40-yo men to such behavior? I mean they clearly weren't pathological "paedos", one even wen.......[/quote]

Maybe it's an age thing. Maybe we all get horny for sub teens* once we get to that kind of age, maybe its due to some chemical change in our brains when we reach that age.

but probably the real explanation is that this guy has always been a kiddie fiddler, just one perhaps without the confidence to actually carry out his devious acts..... but then along comes Kev from PissyWerld and sells him a laptop and WOOHOO internet anonymity FTW! apart from the feds watching his every move XD

*(makes me think of a subway..... with cooked human instead of chicken. mmmmm tasty. of course, wanting to eat a teenager cooked and sliced on a sub roll is so much better morally than wanting to screw one. probably less of a jail sentance too.)

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Grenade

woops wrong title

The following may require seasoning.... (thats a pinch of salt for you less subtle types.)

[quote]WTF can lead 40-yo men to such behavior? I mean they clearly weren't pathological "paedos", one even wen.......[/quote]

Maybe it's an age thing. Maybe we all get horny for sub teens* once we get to that kind of age, maybe its due to some chemical change in our brains when we reach that age.

but probably the real explanation is that this guy has always been a kiddie fiddler, just one perhaps without the confidence to actually carry out his devious acts..... but then along comes Kev from PissyWerld and sells him a laptop and WOOHOO internet anonymity FTW! apart from the feds watching his every move XD

*(makes me think of a subway..... with cooked human instead of chicken. mmmmm tasty. of course, wanting to eat a teenager cooked and sliced on a sub roll is so much better morally than wanting to screw one. probably less of a jail sentance too.)

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sweet jesus

Where were all these dumb ass chicks when I was 15?

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Stop

@ElReg!comments!Pierre

On the whole, I have to agree with you. If a 15-year-old girl willingly gives up "noodz" to a stranger over the Internet, then she's at least partly to blame. Fifteen is not too young to know better.

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The bigger problem here is..

Young girls thinking it's OK to strip on webcam.

Surely that's a prerequisite for underage sex and, with the lack of understanding about safe sex, teen pregnancy.

In my opinion there should be online safety classes. 1 class, once a year (It could be during PHSE/PSE/Whatever it's called).

Basically you show pupils how fucking easy it is to fake an identity.

The teacher goes into a chat room and talks to some guy. Explains that she is 14 and likes ponies. All the classic bullshit.

Shows how easy creating a fake identity is.

The second half of the class consists of how easy it is to save screen shots of your webcam sessions and share them with friends.

Kids are dumb. And they will continue to do dumb shit until we tell them why it's dumb and the way it will directly effect them.

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@all the parents who advocate policing their children...

If I were a teenager at this stage, I'd have a cam whether my parents allowed that or not. The only way you could prevent this would be by policing my behaviour to a pathological degree, and that says nothing good about you and the relationship you have with me. Kids grow up into adults who *also* make bad mistakes. God knows I've made them.

Surely the best approach is to *educate* your child as to the dangers, and ensure that they're as ready to become adults as you can make them.

Speaking from my experiences with my decidedly unintelligent and controlling father, the best way to alienate your child and to achieve outcomes other than your desired ones, is to attempt to *control* them all the time.

There are stupid kids, just as there are stupid adults (no, really?), for whom the best you can do is *try*. You can't ultimately save someone from their own stupidity, though. Hilariously worded afriscams make that point.

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Anonymous Coward

RE:How do you really protect them?

PC in the living room, set up an account for each kid, use monitering sofware or even set up a safe list on there accounts if they are realy young. Its not too difficult.

You can probably also lock out the Google settings page, so you can set them and stop them being changed. Im not 100% sure on that though.

Also, if you are worried about your kids knowing more about computors than you befor the age of 18 then you are probably reading the wrong site.

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Hot or not?

- Not.

Much preferred: a woman of 25+, with a mind of her own and a sense of the stuff of life -- someone to listen to and argue with. A good figure is fine, but I'd rather it had a brain attached to it.

I suspect the scope of conversation and mutual understanding with a 15 year old schoolgirl may be somewhat restricted, much like the mental age of the middle-aged men who persue them.

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Inadequate controls

I am a parent and I implement strict controls on my kids use of technology, I monitor everything and have a complete ban on social networking, my 9 yea old is not allowed independant access to email, I monitor my 14 yrs olds mail box and her use of IM type applicatons, as a general rule she is told not to put anything on the computer unless she is happy for me to see it.

I get a lot of pushback against this parenting policy as it is far stricter than that implemented for any of their friends, why is this ?

- We have an uneducated general public, being pushed technology through the newspapers, the supermarkets etc. whilst being told by their governments that 'everyone gets online'.

Kids meanwhile are being encouraged by their schools to perform research online.

Major vendors push open operating systems with no controls to stop kids getting into socia;l networking etc.

This is worse than letting them watch 18 DVDs etc as we are allowing them access to an unmoderated, unrestricted environment, with absolutely no adequate control.

I think the IT industry is creating an impossible job for uneducated parents to deal with by not giving them tools which are safe for their kids to use, we cannot as an industry then blame the parents for not dealing with the problems that we have created through our own inadequacies.

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@RE:How do you really protect them?

>Also, if you are worried about your kids knowing more about computors than you befor the age of 18 then you are probably reading the wrong site.

That would be the test.

As soon as they could bypass all the filter software/hacks I had done, they are competent enough to use the internet without said software.

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Big Brother

Dont you

Just love the internet

Where men are men

and the women are men

and the children are FBI agents

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Happy

@serviceWithASmile

"but then along comes Kev from PissyWerld and sells him a laptop"

I'd just like to point out that I no longer work for PissyWerld.

Thank you.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 10:25

I still reckon they could get round things. Depends on how much interest they take in computers. Maybe I'm more paranoid about them knowing more about computers because I knew more than my folks did. Perhaps I'm worrying over nothing.

But yeah, mates used to frequent my yard when we got the Internet, mainly because my connection was unmonitored and pretty much freely usable (this was in the era of dial up). So I'd say that kids will always be able to get access to the Internet via other means.

Based on my own experience of school, the machines there were easy to get round so perhaps they wouldn't even need to go to a friends house.

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Anonymous Coward

man

The only reason these folk get caught is becouse they're stupid, it's like terrorists, you only catch the dumb ones, this one who tried to blackmail on and on and the other guy who evidently got too big for his online boots.

The whole of society is trying very hard to lick its own elbow, and looking pretty retarded doing it. They'll pin this up as another "look at how successful we are at catching paedophiles! However be afraid because there are more, lock your selves in your houses, watch what your kids are doing at all times, always be afraid!"

I had mates who had overly strict parents - they were all lunatics, once out from under their parents thumbs they were either a: massive bullies or b: had no common sense at all. So the "strict parenting watch everything they do" is bollocks.

The aim of the game is teaching some sense and responsibility. If a kid doesn't have freedoms what are you gonna take away when they act like a bastard (and all teenagers act like bastards at some point - if they don't they're probably mental)?

But just like other wise smart educated people fall for various phishing tricks, smart well informed kids, teens and, adults will fall for fake bf/gf and even not so fake, some want to get their kit off and be filthy, not fully understanding the potential implications later in life, although I suspect that the whole "oh noes you was naked on internet" thing will become less of an issue as it happens to more people as the years roll on.

- Anyway, summary, common sense is needed but it wont stop people getting caught out.

- Most people caught for doing this kind of thing are stupid/over confident.

- It isn't really a huge thing, although society likes to think it's massive.

- Chill out.

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Black Helicopters

Protect the children - Bubblewrap for kids

To all the parents standing over their children using the internet

I am setting up a new company called 'Bubblewrap for kids'

For £5million I will post you a roll of bubblewrap for you to wrap your children in until they are 18. Then you can send them into the world unblemished and naive.

I just hope they can figure out how to cross the road on their own.

My view is moderation. Allow them freedom to explore on the internet but be nearby to guide and educate if required and let them find out about all the freaks on the internet and teach them how to spot the perv's. People over 18 get caught by this all the time is it any less worse for them. I would say not because they are supposed to know better and lets face it everybody knows some girl that has had her pictures posted without her consent. (and has laughed at their naivety)

forewarned is forarmed

helicopters because that's what I call controlling parents

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Stop

Think of the porn stars..

Now, I'll admit I've not read *all* the comments, but one thing that continually springs to mind in all these cases is the assignment of an arbitrary age of legal and moral acceptability. Not so long ago (in terms of 'modern' developed human society) it was quite acceptable for 13 year old girls to be married off to bare children. There is even an argument that this was necessary in terms of human reproduction as people lived shorter lives and hence needed to reporduce as early as possible in order to guarantee viable offspring. It is only the subsequent readjustment of the socially accepted age of defining an 'adult' that makes a similar sexual encounter today illegal and protested by most to be immoral.

And for those that comment on the abhorrence of pre-pubescent shenanigans, please explain the perfectly morally acceptable fact that so many men spout an open and lustful preference for a shaven pubic area. The primary visual difference between a sexually mature (adult=legal) and sexually immature (minor=illegal) female. The issue, as with life in general, is never clear-cut.

I have 3 kids. Love them all and openely educate them on all matters to help them ENJOY being children.Children learn through question and experimentation and are best guided by clearly defined (and enforced) boundaries that allow freedom to question and experiment. Despite the fact that my kids are young enough to still beleive I have eyes in the back of my head, you CAN NOT monitor them all-the-time and everywhere. And SHOULD NOT. Educate them well (not scare) and support them when things go wrong.

And if you think that the neighbour's 15 year old daughter really is quite stunningly gorgeous, with fine breasts of the sort that your loving wife lost years ago, please be assured you are quite normal.

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@Georgees

Your suggestion with the teacher faking ID in front of a class is already a lesson performed at some London secondary schools.

and @all of those who think parents can just 'educate' their kids to be safe

teenage kids will listen to what suits them and then go off and do what they want to, they know everything and they know best and they'll often push whichever bioundaries they are provided with just for the hell of it.

I'm not by any means perfect but unmonitored use of a computer and a lecture about internet safety is not going to stop kids from exposing themselves to situations you'd rather they avoided.

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FAIL

Fule

Could have saved himself a raft load of trouble if he had just become a movie director and removed to France first.

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@Dave Gomm

That's good to hear.

I've been in a class where they were teaching the dangers of social networking to 12 year olds. Some of the answers about what was safe and what wasn't safe to post on the internet were disturbing, but some were encouraging too.

I think IM programs are the real problem here. They leave much less of a paper trail.

There was no info taught on IMing with the class I sat in on.

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Anonymous Coward

What?

Men pretending to be girls who are interested in girls only?

Who'd have thought it!?

Honestly, almost any online friend/dating website is full of profile with stunning profile pictures who are only interested in girls.

I have a bi female friend who is constantly contacted by them... We sometimes play the "see who can ID the porn star" game from the profile pictures.

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@ElReg!comments!Pierre

Major Kudos for this post. Yes it has stirred a hornets nest. Yes it expresses an opinion that not all will agree with but he has the guts to speak what he believes and not hide behind the AC moniker.

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Paris Hilton

These things were written down for our instruction

Don't send nude pics of yourself to anyone!

Don't even take the photographs!

No, it won't ruin your life if you "accidentally" did and you're 12 years old unless your family is into honour killing.

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Pint

Just to make it clear for the thickos

First, thanks to the many people who got my point and restored my faith in the human race (well, kinda, for now).

For the ones who didn't get my point: I don't approve of what the offender did. It is quite gruesome, especially the blackmail part. I am not a (closet or otherwise) kiddie fiddler, I have plenty of fun with women my age, thank you very much (mostly women 5-10 years older than I am even. I expect that to change in a couple years when I pass the 40 milestone, but that's an other matter entirely).

I am just tired of the overly hypocritical situation unraveled by this kind of stories. "I can't control my kids' access to the Internet because they have cameraphones with unlimited dataplans, and laptops"? Really? I'm sure you guys can make sure that your 14-yo kids don't take your car for a ride every single night, right? How is it any different? Who bought the smartphone, who bought the laptop, who's paying for the unlimited dataplan, who got -and controls- the internet connection?

To go on with the car metaphor, I was "lucky" enough to be raised in the countryside, and I can remember driving all sort of vehicles (cars, trucks, tractors, you name it) as soon as I was old enough to reach the pedals. I do also distinctly remember my father and/or mother being never far away, especially the first times. There was no need for spying, or even for close supervision (appart for the very first times). They were around, and it was enough. It does work the same way for internet browsing. Think about it.

Another comparison, just to nail it down: I'm sure every single kid knows better than to follow the strange guy with the dirty trenchcoat to his unmarked white van (although child abuse is most of the time the doing of close relatives -again, an other problem entirely). Then how come that the same kids will happily send titty pics to whomever asks for them on the intarwubs? Isn't there an education problem here?

I guess the misunderstanding is partly my fault, though. I know what confused the simplest minds: I probably shouldn't have mixed this point with the discrepancy between how our society considers fraudsters (they did it for the money, so even if they ruined a few thousand families' lives -or even the whole nation, come to think of it-, it's OK. Let's wait a couple years and give them a government job) and anything remotely related to sex (They obtained a picture for sexual gratification, let's put them behind the bars for the next 2 decades and make sure that they won't get a job or a normal life ever again). Again, I do not approve of the so-called "online predator" behavior, far from it. I just think that the lack of balance kinda ridicules the whole system. Sorry if it's just me. I'm quite sure that my first point still firmly stands, whatever you might think of the latter one.

Time for a pint now.

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Silver badge

@ Dave Gomm

I'm not sure whether I must applaud or hiss. I feel like lauding you efforts to control your kids' online behavio(u)r, and your resistance against peer pressure. But on the other hand, you seem to be blaming the technological advances, and especially "open operating systems", whatever this might mean for you). The most "open" OS, when it comes to user mangement, is Windows. I suspect you were blaming *NIX-inspired OSes such as Linux or BSDs. Just so that you know, these OSes were *designed* to allow the admins to keep a firm grip on the figurative users' nuts. If you want to tightly control what users can or cannot do with a computer, at any level, these are the best solutions on the market, by a considerable margin.

Anyway, as far as controlling your kids' access to the web and when you know what you're doing, the OS is not really relevant -and if it was, Windows would be the weakest link. I went on to type a whole analysis but halfway through I figured that it was far too much work for dubious benefits, so I'll let you search the web by yourself, you'll know what I mean.

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Boffin

keeping it in the family...

The reason these type of stories receive so much attention is because it distracts us from the uncomfortable fact that most child abuse occurs within the family.

The idea of the "peado" as the stranger, the outsider, usually a loner, the 'other' is easier to swallow. The sad fact is that children (usually girls) are sexually abused by their father, uncle, mother's boyfriend, etc.

If one also looks at certain elements of our society, the sexualisation of youth (e.g. Britany Spears), that the "ideal" women as exemplified by supermodels is slim and shaven (i.e. appears as a girl not a woman), there's also something distasteful. Of course, it's easier to scream about sad bastards like the guy in the article than to have some serious reflection.

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Coat

For the benefit of Turks...

Chicken!

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@ElReg!comments!Pierre

*applauds

Allways nice when a voice of sense gets in first to give the debate a sensible direction!

Hmmm...I had open access to the internet on a private computer when I was much younger. However, apart from some incredibly crafty searching to find topless pics of Geri Halliwell I don't beleive anything worse occurred. Why did it have to be crafty searching? Coz i knew my Dad couold axctively monitor all of my usage. (You try finding topless pics while avoiding terms or sights which include 'nude', 'topless' or 'adult'. Heh. Wonderful lessons in search engines that)

I now several families with young children (well...youngish) and their computer access is through as computer in the lounge. Easy to moinitor, but not in an overly direct way - hey, it can even be a conversation starter between parent and child! i really don't understand parents who slavishly provide their childrens technical whims without any form or copntrol. The car metaphor is perfect.

Oh, btw... to however said 'How could i ever stop my child owning a webcam' or words to that effect....they don't tend to be useful without a computer to go with it!

PS...All my experiences with hardcore porn at that age was from school computers...or the school environment anyhoo. And my school really did try to stop this happening...but couldnt 100% of the time.

(article, agriculture)

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