Exclusive report: A journalist investigates the dangers lurking online

Exclusive to JCW by Josh Aronson

Like many of you I’m sure, I grew up on detective stories – Nancy Drew, the Hardy boys, Sherlock Holmes, gallivanting around the world with their trusted sidekicks, solving mysteries and crime. As a kid I remember thinking, “One day I’ll to be a detective”.

A few months ago, I accidentally fulfilled my adolescent dream of detective work and found some unexpected closure for some very difficult parts of my own life…. right in my own home, at my own computer, when I stumbled on a pedophile haven.

To explain- I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse. When I was a child in school, a teacher molested me. Then I was sexually assaulted again as an older teen by a security guard in a hostel I was staying in. Being sexually abused affected my life in many ways, and it has always been important to me to do whatever I can to make sure that other children do not go through what I went through.

Today, I am not a detective, but I am a journalist. Over the year there has been increasing discussion in the media about the growing problem of kids and teens online meeting predators. After reading yet another article about this growing problem, I began wondering if this problem was actually as pervasive as some are claiming it to be, and decided to do a little research.

So, a google search found me on a chat site for teenagers aged 13-19 with no need to register or provide any kind of ID.

I presented myself as a geeky abused 15 year old boy named Jon, living in a foster home looking for a girlfriend, and I was immediately targeted.

I received countless messages from men and women alike admitting they are older but they like younger children.

The amount of camera requests I received only to open to see men touching themselves openly on the camera was unbelievable and disgusting.

And then there was the links. When I opened them they gave me immediate access to pictures and videos of pedophilia, bestiality and more.

There were men who kept on telling me how they want to use me and make me their “personal slut”.

I received requests for my location. Some were ready to fly across the world to perform their perversions.

I even received messages from people trying to convince me to commit suicide.

And of course, there were some regular teens who were there because after all, it was a teen chat.

After one 14 year old messaged me, I asked her for her email address and phone number, which she immediately gave me. I reported it the local police department who brilliantly sent officers on a welfare check and contacted her relatives.

A few hours later I was back online, this time as Amy, a 13 year old girl. The minute I logged on I was pinged with hundreds of chat requests, adults begging for pictures, adults saying they were women who liked girls, and I was even offered 2000 dollars by one adult man looking for sex.

To sum it all up, I had a unlimited access to kids and teens and proof of probably hundreds of child predators, all on just one teen chat that is open to all with no registration or ID.

I sent everything to my local cyber police who opened investigations into the site and many of its members.

This is definitely the time to wonder, is your child safe?

  • Nowadays, 95% of Americans between 12-17 are online.
  • Almost 100% teens that are victims of online predators have gone willingly to meet their attackers.
  • 75% of children are willing to share personal information in exchange for services.
  • Online predators tend to be between 18- 55 although some are older.
  • Most victims are usually between 11- 15.
  • There are more than 500,000 predators online. **

These statistics are frightening and remind us that the world is a dangerous place, and that danger can so easily show up right in our own home, in our home office or kids bedroom.

You must speak to your children about internet safety. Even if you think they don’t have access, you might be shocked to learn that they do from their friends devices. Talk to your children’s friends parents about educating their own kids. Talk to your kids schools about providing safety education. Research and use internet filters.

And we must do some of the detective work to keep our eyes on the sites our kids are on, their browser history, their apps. If you see something illegal, report it immediately!! You can stop these vile people from getting away with exploiting more children, and help save a child’s life.

Originally from Manchester UK, Josh Aronson is a journalist for Maariv newspaper in Israel. Josh was abused as a child and teen and has been a strong supporter of JCW for many years.

His motto is, “never let them win.”


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