WYOMING: A 41-year-old man is accused of trying to initiate sexual contact with a 15-year-old girl. Livingston County Sheriff Thomas J. Dougherty is advising parents to take an active role in supervising their children’s activity on social media sites and messaging apps.
Authorities allege he used an app called Whisper, which allows for the anonymous sending of text, picture and video messages, to meet up with a teenager and try to engage her in sexual contact.
UTAH: A 27- year-old man was arrested after officers reportedly found he was using a mobile app to entice underage girls to have sex with him. A detective with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office used the popular app “Whisper” in October to assume the identity of a 13-year-old girl. While using the app, the officer reportedly found a public posting of a man asking for “a female companion.” The officer made contact with the suspect using the fake 13-year-old identity. During their communications, the 27-year-old said he would buy the girl any clothing she wanted if they could have future sexual relations.
MINNESOTA: A 25-year-old male used the app Whisper to communicate anonymously with a 15-year-old girl. He was arrested after asking a detective posing as the teen to send nude pictures.
SOUTH CAROLINA: A conversation between a 26-year-old male and a 14-year-old girl (who lied and said she was actually 16) on Whisper;
Vaughn: “Ive seen you posting a lot the last couple days… i figured you could use someone to talk to. Lol
Victim: “Yea… its been a bad week”
Vaughn: “Im sorry. Wish i could help… Hey, btw hold old are you?”
Victim: “16” “U?”
Vaughn: “Lol 26”
Victim sends photo of herself to Vaughn
Vaughn: “Not ugly. Cute. But young. Very young. Lol”
Victim: “Also old enough to be legal”
Vaughn: “…this is true… No prison time… lol”
Vaughn: “Lol okay. I was gonna say id love to see it, but it cant be bare because then i can get in trouble. Lol”
Vaughn: “Because you’re technically a minor, so that child porn. Lol”
Vaughn: “So do i get to see this pic we keep discussing? Lol”
Victim: “Do you seriously want it?” “Bc if u do I will send it”
Vaughn: “Yes I do. Lol”
Officers said the victim sent Vaughn a revealing photo to which he responded with explicit messages, describing sex acts. He was arrested and charged with disseminating obscene material to a minor.
These are just three recent stories about online predators using Whisper to solicit underage sex. The app allows users to make secret, anonymous confessions and uses the phone’s GPS capabilities so that the people who read the “whispers” are those nearby.
In the Itunes store, Whisper says the following about its product;
“Whisper is an online community where millions of people around the world share real thoughts, trade advice, and get the inside scoop.
‘The experience of spending time on Whisper is unlike any other major social network: It’s more raw, more moving…and yes, often more addictive.’ – Mashable
Chat directly with other Whisper users – it’s a great way to meet new people.
Join the 30 million+ people who use Whisper every month; it will change the way you see the world.”
The Livingston County Sheriff involved in the case in Wyoming referenced above said the following;
“That phone is a computer. It’s just like the desktop that’s sitting in the corner of your home, if you still have one of those, and it can do the same exact thing,” he said. “Apps, online websites, all those things — your young kids have access to all that and you have no clue who they’re communicating with. If you’re giving kids phones at a young age, I would lock that phone down completely. It’s just a different world that we live in now. Years ago communication was person-to-person and it was dangerous enough. They’re (kids) not at a mature level to even know sometimes what they’re doing. And it’s very important that parents be parents and monitors them very closely.”
Law enforcement officials, educators, therapists, and cybersecurity experts say that parenting in cyberspace is an absolute must. The easiest and most effective parenting tool on the market is Social Judo. No spying, no scrolling through your child’s phone, just alerts, in real time, about the things that concern you, as a parent.
Andrea Difilippo is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker, nationally recognized parenting expert and Chief Parenting Officer with Social Judo.