Do vigilante groups truly help against online predators?


We’ve all heard at some point, either on the news or online, that a group of individuals have assisted or have “busted a predator” themselves. Sounds like a great way to put an end to online pedophilia, right? Well, there are negative consequences that many are unaware of.

The phrase, “don’t bite off more than you can chew” fits right into this particular scenario. Law enforcement around the country are always dealing with reports of online pedophilia. If you’ve read articles on certain online groups, you’ve probably seen the many vigilante groups and members who are getting themselves into hot water. So what exactly does “hot water” mean?

CCRA has spoken to members of many vigilante groups, who’ve admitted in some point in their online decoy operations, they’ve had negative encounters with law enforcement and civil attorneys. When asked what this entailed, they explained that attorneys have contacted them, bringing suit against them for false accusations, defamation of character, and many other areas. Law enforcement has also asked them to stop meeting predators who they meet online, in person, regardless of state or country.

When CCRA asked law enforcement about this, they made it perfectly clear that that civilians who are not contracted, affiliated, or partnered with law enforcement agencies, should not be attempting to apprehend online predators. This includes chatting with predators online, collecting their personal information for personal gain, meeting in person and recording those in person encounters.

What’s the big deal? According to our meetings with law enforcement, individuals who are not one of the following above, who do not have the authority or power to attempt to stop predators as individuals or groups, are either at risk of impersonating law enforcement, destroying an on-going investigation, and setting themselves up for civil suit, since the predator the groups are dealing with, have not been convicted in a court of law. Believe it or not, these civil suits can and will be a win for the suspected predator.

With the largely growing number of predators, how in the world is the online community supposed to support and protect their community, both physically and online? Law enforcement stated that online observations and reports to law enforcement are sufficient enough and do not pose a threat to themselves, or law enforcement investigations.

How does CCRA avoid these mentioned issues? CCRA does not perform decoy operations or interact the predator or victim. Our operations are solely visual and will remain that way, unless otherwise instructed by a law enforcement agency. If a law enforcement agency instructs you to do such tasks, you are then brought under their protection, which should be documented on a form, which both parties can sign.

Although it’s know that the laws have not yet caught up to the internet, all civilians should steer clear of attempting to apprehend, meet with, and communicate with predators as a decoy, as many call themselves.

Proper Way of Handling Predators

We can all agree that nobody likes online predators (except other predators). Every year seems like the problem keeps increasing with the large number of predator arrests made.

Most everyone would love the opportunity of confronting a predator and doing a justice for the community. Of course, the law does not support these actions as all are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. So what exactly can the community do to put a stop to online predators? Unfortunately this is an issue that isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

“There’s too many of them, secret websites and the dark web are rising in numbers as we speak.” said Matthew Baumgartner, Vice Executive of CCRA. “We can’t stop them all, but we can do our best to stop many of them.”

What exactly does this mean? What is there left to do? Making reports to law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is the best course of action at this point. Ensuring parental controls are active on computers and keeping them in public areas of the house, such as the living room dramatically decrease the chances of children from becoming a victim.

As much as every minor hates it, checking your child’s phone for suspicious applications, such as Kik and are also advisable as those two apps have been known to cause much issue in the community.

Should a predator ever arrange a meeting with your child, do not under any circumstances attempt to engage them yourself. Contact law enforcement and they will properly and legally deal with the issue. Many vigilante groups have attempted to take matters into their own hands these past couple of years, by meeting the predators and recording their confrontations, which have caused many issues such as traffic accidents, injuries and mistaken identities. We have spoken to several of these vigilante groups who actually by no surprise are currently in civil suits by their accused predators.

By taking these steps and precautions you’ll ensure the predators receive the true justice they’ll get. After all, prison has been known to not being so friendly towards child predators.