Ew. Ew ew ew ew ew. Some 37-year old pedophile named Simon Hale tricked girls between the ages of 13 – 15 into stripping for him on webcam by telling them he was Justin Bieber or Niall Horan, of One Direction. He’s in jail now, but police have found over 180 videos from at least 33 different girls on his computer. Some of them he only convinced into going topless, but others he got to strip naked and touch themselves. Two in particular were somehow coerced into performing or miming sexual acts on their young family members — a 4-year old brother and a 6-year old cousin.
Okay this is so fucked up. So fucked up. And for so many reasons. Obviously this guy Simon Horan is an off-the-charts pedophile and needs to go away for a long time. But we also need to take a serious look at internet safety, as far as I’m concerned. I understand that the lack of identity on the internet lowers inhibitions, but there are some common sense issues that need to be addressed. As a parent to these poor girls, how are you letting them get on the internet without all the proper information? When I was the same age as these girls and my friends and I would hang out in chat rooms on the internet, we wouldn’t even give our names or real cities to people who asked because we were raised to believe that the internet is a dangerous place. Which it was and is! So ten years later, I’d expect kids to be more informed about the dangers of the web, not less.
Here is a public safety announcement to any and all teenagers on the internet: your celebrity crush is not going to contact you through it. The same way a Nigerian prince doesn’t want to marry me, just as soon as I sent $2700 to him by wire transfer, Justin Bieber is never ever going to Skype you. And furthermore, regardless of who it is, even if it’s someone famous or popular or whatever, please never ever ever strip for a stranger on Skype. Actually, even if it’s not a stranger, don’t strip on Skype, because you’re effectively giving someone the tools to cast you in a porn. And once it’s out there, you can’t ever get it back.
I’m not even going to touch on the fact that this pervert manipulated girls into doing things with their young siblings — there’s no question that he’s twisted, but parents, you need to be on this shit. Just because these things weren’t factors when you were kids, you still need to be aware of them in today’s world. It was never an option for a stranger to see you naked with your permission, but it is today, so please please talk to your kids in advance. Keep your kids on alert and smart as the internet changes; don’t leave them vulnerable to online predators.