“I’m a helper at a youth club that meets once per week and is attended by 10- to 14-year-old boys,” reads the anonymous online posting on a “boy love” chat forum, where thousands of pedophiles gather to communicate with each other.
“For the last two months, these two 10-year-old boys have been attending. They’re best friends and I like them both emotionally and physically. I want to spend more time with them outside the club.”
Afraid of drawing attention to himself and his desires, he asks for advice on how to get the boys alone.
Assistance quickly rolls in onscreen.
“Pharmaceuticals are your friend . . . GHB, ketamine, rohypnol,” says one reply, listing popular “club drugs” often used to assist in sexual assault.
“But be quick,” the anonymous online advisor concludes. “Ten (years of age) is getting pretty close nowadays to the change. Enjoy.”
Pedophilic impulses that were once isolating and stigmatizing have found community, social support and encouragement online, where men can easily access videos of children and share techniques for luring and grooming children.
The targets of pedophilic sexual desires are increasingly younger and younger, according to experts and research.
Messages on the “boy love” forums reviewed by the Toronto Star referred to children as young as 2 as objects of adult male desire.
“They’re trying to climb this ladder of immorality,” says Dr. Michael Bourke, chief psychologist with the U.S. Marshals Service. “They’re trying to say to their community, ‘Look, I win, mine are the youngest.’ . . . There’s a special place in hell for some people.”
In pre-Internet days, pedophiles had to keep their sexual predilections to themselves. Uttering or acting on their preferences in public would have brought public scorn and, often, police charges.
Online, those with pedophilic fantasies are encouraged and enabled, says Bourke.
“The natural protective factor of guilt and shame that would stop them from pursuing it are mitigated by the people telling them that it’s normal. It’s gasoline on a flame. The Internet is enhancing those drives.”
It’s also easier to hide online, say police who monitor these chat forums but are often handcuffed in what they can do.
There’s nothing illegal about discussing sexual preference or how to subvert law enforcement with sophisticated encryption, says Toronto police Det. Paul Krawczyk, who heads the force’s child exploitation unit.
“This is the perfect area where they go and teach other how to hide, how to molest children, how to avoid being detected by law enforcement,” he says. “It’s mind-blowing when you get a sense of how many people are out there that want to talk about this, who want to trade images, who want to abuse children.”
It’s a problem requiring a strong legislative response, says Lianna McDonald, executive director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, whose staff routinely receive tips about “boy love” forums they pass on to police across the country.
The material includes live recordings of children being beaten by adults, predators counselling how to abuse children and the “marketing” of children as sexual objects “for adults to use and abuse,” says McDonald.
Legislation targeting communications or recordings that advocate harm to children would be challenged as a threat to free speech, she admits.
“But when we apply these arguments with a child-protection lens it can be argued that privacy and Internet security rights are not absolute,” she says, citing other child-specific legislation, such as child-welfare laws across Canada.
“This would stop the open and public normalization of this behaviour, the establishment of such communities, and send a message to those Canadians participating in such activities that this is not okay.”
Online conversations reveal disturbing intentions
Subject: Volunteering with children
“So I applied to be a mentor (won’t say which organization) and while I expect, but do not fear the criminal/finger print/background/interview checks, I am wondering what else to expect . . . I read something about how they want to talk to significant others/wives/girlfriends, which doesn’t faze (sic) me because I don’t have one (and never did) but also friends. I haven’t had friends in a long time, though it’s no fault of my own (long story). Anyone been through the process. I have a meeting with them.”
Response: “If it’s some kind of supervised after-school thing where you’re never alone with the boy, I doubt they’ll do anything more than a criminal check, general interview and talk to your references to make sure you’re reliable. If it involves one-on-one, or trips alone together and sleepovers at your house, they’ll be more invasive especially if it’s a well-run, national organization with chronic pedophile problems . . . (I was) once was a mentor at a community center staffed by all volunteers. I don’t even think that group even did a criminal check, just an interview then basically said come by next Saturday and mingle with the kids to find one you’d like.”
“There’s one boy in my life who at this time would still, I think, be all for my grooming (if his parents hadn’t gotten in his head first). He used to be into snuggling up against me while we played on the iPad. He’s the boy who jumped off of the coffee table into my lap (in his pajamas and monkey slippers). I always try to picture what he and I alone would be like and the best way to describe it is with one word — beautiful . . . If I say, “I want to make you feel good” to a boy and put my hand on his “you know what,” is that bad? It’s illegal, sure (mehhhh). But, is it immoral, as so many think? Grooming? Bad? I just don’t know . . .”
“Just how safe is our data and more importantly our identity . . . I have come across several sites discussing all this flurry of excitement and fear, even panic, of how deeply we are all being watched. Here is a link to a YouTube that may help a bit because a lot of it is from the various ‘horses mouths’ ”
Response: “The crypto community (of which I am not a qualified member) seems to agree that GPG, as an asymmetrical form of encryption for communicating with others, is extremely good and, essentially, unbreakable given sufficient key lengths AND conscientious administration. This seems to be confirmed by Snowden and other insights gained into the operational capabilities of the ‘bad guys.’ ”