Sexual Predators' New Angle: Video Chat Sites

Dec 06, 2012

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Image: manu contreras - Flickr

Ever heard of a ‘capper’? It is a term used to describe sexual predators who take screenshots (screencaps) after coercing young teens into doing inappropriate things on camera. Video chat sites, like BlogTV, Stickam, and TinyChat, are becoming a popular place for these individuals to lurk around. Cappers join chat sites and groom teens by giving them compliments. Cappers then ask for inappropriate things, like encouraging girls to flash them. They secretly take screenshots and video of these teens, and then either share the video, or blackmail them by threatening to share. The cappers hide behind screen names, making it hard to trace them,  and making it hard to prosecute as well.

 Each day more and more teens join video chat sites.  In addition, 4 in 10 teens use Skype, and 10% stream live video online for others to watch. According to Predator Watch, a Canadian-based group dedicated to online children’s safety, “one in five youth aged 10–17 years have been solicited sexually while on the Internet. Seventy-five per cent do not tell a parent.”

Cappers may find their harassment on these video chat sites harmless entertainment, but it’s not. Cyberbullying has consequences in the real world. Some teens victimized by cappers have been so affected by it that they have committed suicide. Parents, make sure you know what your children are doing online with chat monitoring, and talk to your teens. Ask them to tell you if they’ve been approached by a stranger on the Internet, and asked to do inappropriate things. It’s worth the uncomfortable conversation now to prevent heartache later if anyone harms your child.