A Summary by Scott Dunkin
This is a deeply polarizing issue in Canada. In short, there are groups of citizens across Canada that have declared themselves “pedo hunters”. They go onto public websites (e.g., Craigslist, POF, Scout, Grindr, etc.) and create a profile of an 18 year old (the “bait”). When someone starts chatting with them, they “switch” the age to a minor (ranging anywhere from 9-15). Through the chat with the decoy, they arrange a meeting, then confront the target with cameras accusing them of being a pedophile, ask them to explain themselves, then post to social media for “blasting” (i.e., social media shaming).
This page represents a group of people who are against this vigilante approach to catching suspected child predators online for a number of reasons:
1. These catchers are not trained nor qualified to do this work. Most are uneducated, methods are not standardized, and they make mistakes (see below). Some catcher groups notify police, others don’t and let the suspected predator go free; some post chat logs showing sexual intent, others don’t care if there is any sexual conversation at all.
2. They misinterpret laws consistently, accusing people of crimes when no crime has been committed. They are basically on a moral crusade and many believe that anyone who meets with someone over the internet who is under 18 has broken the law. As a consequence, innocent people have been caught.
3. In addition to catching people who are 100% innocent, there have been many people with developmental disabilities and mental illness victimized and shamed by these groups. In one case, one of these victims in Edmonton committed suicide.
4. They have interfered with actual police investigations. According to police, the target is tipped off by the creep catcher sting and flees, stops the behaviour they were being investigated for, etc. In one case, a target was about to be arrested by police, the sting occurred, he was transient and fled to another province in Canada where he molested a toddler and baby. That’s according to the Alberta ICE team.
5. They claim this is to protect children, yet they create these distorted scenarios that lure potential predators. Some media outlets have suggested that they are actually creating predators. I don’t know if I agree with that, but the certainly get off on the thrill of the chase, and the joy of destroying someone’s life, no matter how flimsy the evidence.
6. They are making money through sweatshirt sales and fundraising activities, and refuse to account for how that money is being used among their supporters.
7. When someone expresses opposition to their methods, you will often get called a “pedo”, “pedo sympathizer”, “pedo lover”, etc. or you will receive threats in PM typically by their devoted followers (who some groups refer to as their “fans”).