Free-Range Kids

Are Your Kids on Facebook? Rapists Will Abduct Them, Warns Viral Video

An absurd Coby Persin YouTube video wants parents to panic over nothing.

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Coby Persin
Youtube

Here's the latest "Parents, Please Commence Freak Out" video. It reminds me of the Joey Salads video, obviously, but also of the parents who had their 6-year-old snatched, blindfolded, and taken to a basement where the "kidnapper" threatened to nail him to the wall—all of that, just to teach him not to talk to strangers. That boy's mom and grandma wanted to keep their child safe, but I would not be surprised if any natural "gut instincts" of his have been shattered for life. (Not to mention his trust in his loved ones.)

The same goes for these young ladies exploited by admitted prankster Coby Persin. The video shows Persin, who looks to be about 30, pretending to be a teen as he chats with underage girls online. The girls eventually agree to meet him in person; Persin secretly brings along their parents, who jump out from around the corner and terrify the poor girls as Persin berates them for agreeing to the meeting in the first place. 

"I could be anyone…you shouldn't talk to strangers," insists Persin to the girls.

Worst of all is that the parents heap guilt and rage upon their daughters for not being sufficiently wary of all other people. The terror of a kidnapping mixed with the horror and soul-melting shame of being tricked and trapped by your own parents is something I wouldn't wish on anyone.

And what is the message? That young people shouldn't trust anyone online? That's like telling them not to trust anyone they meet in the offline world, too. As I wrote in my rebuttal to Joey Salads, a video that "tests" whether kids can be conned by an evil stranger makes it seem as if this is a situation kids are faced with every day. But kids are not in constant danger of being abducted by unknown assailants. In fact, the vast majority of crimes against children are committed by people they already know.

Does it make sense to teach kids about Internet safety? Absolutely. They should be warned that everything they post online can be made public, and that sharing too much information is often a bad idea. But it is stupid to assume that Facebook is teeming with stranger danger.

This video also reminds me of the scary hitchhiker warnings of the 1960s, "Never pick up a stranger." (Which also became the slogan for an anti-freeze, but I digress.) Unfortunately, it's the kind of scary, misleading message that everyone loves to share, as if they are performing a public service.

At the end of the video, Persin claims that there are more than 750,000 "registered child predators" in the U.S. That's incorrect. There are indeed more than 750,000 registered sex offenders, but the majority of the people on the registry do not pose a threat to kids.

That's not just me saying this. Here's a piece in The Economist quoting a study done by the Georgia Sex Offender Registration Review Board (not a state that's soft on crime). The study found that of the 17,000 people on Georgia's state registry, 5 percent were "clearly dangerous" and just over 100 individuals were "predators" compelled to prey on kids.

The Persin and Salads videos are premised on the idea that children are in constant danger and stranger abductions are common. They are not.

NEXT: Should booking photos be subject to FOIA requests?

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  1. I don’t have FB because I don’t want to be eye raped by all the stupid shit on there.

    1. *hits the Like button*

    2. /pokes Florida Man

      1. *Punches RBS in face*

        #Disproportionateviolence

        1. *unfriends who he thinks is Florida Man, thus inadvertantly upsetting and old high school friend*

        2. See? This shit is why you’re always in the news.

          1. And , eeew. You have Twitter account but no Facebook? That’s like saying you may have AIDS but you’re gonorrhea free.

            1. I don’t have a Twitter either, I just like the # meme.

          2. I…I’m not a fast learner.

            *hangs head, sees rock of meth on ground, smokes it*

              1. Next time James Woods shows up, let’s just start with this.

              2. Did someone say, “Candy”?

    3. A large portion of the folks I see posting on Facebook could use a good abducting.

    4. This. Too much DERP to be worth it.

  2. Wicked twist at the end: Persin gets his rocks off by scaring young girls — with their parents’ permission!

    1. Wait until she hires Eric Cartman to smear shit all over the walls.

    2. His next show is called “Show Me Your Tits”. Can’t wait to see their faces when they see their dad’s head pop into view on the other cam. Its going to be a ratings hit, I’m sure.

  3. whenever my buddies and I had facebook post that was public saying we were having a party, people we didn’t know would sometimes show up and take advantage of the keg we bought., sometimes they were cute girls and sometimes they were ugly guys, but I don’t think I ever got raped. But then again I did get pretty drunk.

    1. I don’t think I ever got raped. But then again I did get pretty drunk.

      *places hand on Idle’s shoulder*

      I have a confession to make…

          1. ditto

  4. Given the amount of rape coverage we get here on Reason, I’m concluding America is the rapiest country in the galaxy… more rapey than South Africa.

    1. The average home built in the US is 2400 sq/ft, with 3 bedrooms 2 & 1/2 baths and a rapiary. Fact!

  5. Hey, if it saves just one child from the derp vortex of Facebook, I can tolerate a little exaggeration.

    1. You’re on to something.

      Ye…yeah… don’t uh, don’t use Facebook. It’s rapey!

      Whatever works, right?

  6. Well, anything that encourage kids or anyone else to stay away from the cesspool of stoopid can’t be all bad.

    The theme should have been ‘You kids will be raped by da stoopid’

  7. How many kids even use facebook anymore?

    1. My high school mock trial team kept going on and on about snapchat.

      1. Yeah, while I don’t stay up with what the young people do on a day-to-day basis, it seems my niece and nephew pretty much spend all day looking at LOLpics on Snapchat.

        I think that Facebook requires too much attention span for today’s yute.

        1. I heard it was because parents were using it as a spy tool. Snap chat doesn’t keep a record, so the kids can send dick pics without mom seeing.

          1. *screen caps Florida Man’s Snapchat dick pic – posts to Facebook*

              1. Don’t worry man. Hey, is that a crack rock over there?

                1. *scatches neck nervously*

                  I need to go… I left my house on fire.

                  *scramble for crack*

  8. Is it just me or does all of this seem poorly scripted/executed even by FB standards?

    The parents don’t even really act like parents and their children don’t act like they know them. They all act like actors waiting for prompts from the grifter/con artist.

    1. This is just the ending for facebook. The real ending gets posted on lobstertube.

      1. Even most of lobstertube acts like they’ve done this before and know how it’s all gonna end. In he first ‘scene’ the ‘dad’ was like “I jumped out and yelled at her… now what?!?!?”

        I guess they do have to astroturf incest (and other) porn somehow, right? Actually, this clarifies like 90% of FB.

        1. astroturf incest

          If I only had a band to name.

  9. Once again reinforcing the accuracy of the despair.com social media venn diagram

    http://tinyurl.com/pwkg27b

    If you’re on Facebook, you’re either being stalked, stalking someone else, or suffer from a narcissistic delusion of you being stalked by people with an uncontrollable urge to have sex with you

    1. I just post pictures of the kid so his out of town relatives can enjoy the… OMG, I better make sure he’s still at daycare!

      1. I just post pictures of the kid so his out of town relatives can enjoy the… OMG, I better make sure he’s still at daycare!

        Yes, FB is nice to keep in touch with family and share pictures. Our FB account is only viewable by family and friends of the family, is that not common?

        1. I don’t use mine anymore but I have a policy of not adding family members except a few cousins.

    2. If you’re on Facebook, you’re either being stalked, stalking someone else, or suffer from a narcissistic delusion of you being stalked by people with an uncontrollable urge to have sex with you

      You know my wife?

      1. Your wife is stalking someone else?

        1. Don’t look behind you…

    3. Hands down worst day of high school for me: the day I figured out they aren’t talking about me.

  10. I watched video through first encounter until girl’s father (Joey Buttafucco?) starts yelling at his waif.

    This seems to be new twist on underage click-bait, but the exploitation leaves the same feeling of wanting a shower after watching it. Eeew.

  11. I remember in the early days of the internet Friendster once touched my back door. That changed my life forever.

    1. Were you the first one to upload your profile?

      1. I uploaded all over the internet.

        1. Show me on the computer how Friendster touched your dongle.

  12. LOL, look at this guy’s other videos.

    He has one called ‘Jerking off in front of cops prank’ and one called ‘Making Homeless guys arm wrestle for money.’

    Clearly he is an icon that we should all be emulating.

    1. Are either of those even pranks?

      1. The first one is awesome, but requires an entire new level of prank commitment.

    2. He sounds like a douche.

      That said, if I had an underage daughter I wouldn’t assume that random internet guys just want to meet her for her brilliant conversation skills (even if she had them)

  13. And let’s all just forget that 4/5ths of molestations occur with someone the kid knows and freak out about stranger danger instead.

    1. What are family reunions for, after all?

    2. Four-fifths? It’s actually over 90 percent.

    3. On semi-local* news last year there were several man-arrested-for-molesting-kids stories. As I recall, one was a cop and the others all worked for schools.

      * City an hour down the road from my small town.

  14. I didn’t watch all the creepy scenarios, but from skimming I saw one where the guy arranged to drive his van to meet a girl at night at her front door when Dad was supposedly asleep (spoiler alert – Dad was actually with the van). Now, that is pretty scary.

    I don’t know how many criminals want to invoke that scenario, but maybe it *does* show we’re too trusting?

    1. Assuming this was all real (and I suspect it’s not because this would be the easiest thing in the world to fake), the issue is that it virtually never happens.

      You want to know how many kids are molested by strangers? Very few. It simply doesn’t happen often enough to warrant this kind of paranoia and fear.

      1. Putting myself in the kid’s place, it would certainly freak me out and piss me off. At my Dad.

        I hate to cite SouthPark, which isn’t really funny, but they had an episode about how much to trust strangers, and the Trust Fairy turned out to be a pedophile, and so on…really meta stuff.

        1. There’s lots of stuff which is (a) rare and (b) fairly easily avoided.

          Answering the door to some random Facebook guy at night fits both the (a) and (b) categories. It’s not likely to be an issue, but a kid willing to fall for it is unduly credulous of strangers.

        2. Wrong South Park. The one where the parents hired people to act like they were the kids themselves from the future (after the kids had failed to stay away from drugs) in order to scare the kids away from drugs. Turns out the kids had a problem with their parents lying to them and the message they got was not to trust your parents and that parents think you’re so stupid that they can’t just sit down with you and have a conversation about the issue.

          1. OK, good point.

            Bottom line – South Park is great at delivering sermons. This fills a need for a generation which doesn’t get good homilies in church. My question about South Park is why people think it’s some kind of comedy.

              1. HA HA HA HA HA HA…it’s like a map of the United States, but someone drew a diagram of a penis over the map…oh, God, it’s so hilarious…HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA, gasp, gasp, OK, I can breathe again…oh, no, I can’t…HA HA HA HA HA HA HA, oh, they better not tell another joke like that or I will die of laughter…

  15. There’s an argument to be made?and I’ve seen it made very well?that teaching children to distrust strangers can be counterproductive and damaging. Statistically speaking, no one is less likely to harm a child than a stranger. Children have nothing of value to offer: no money, no power, no possessions, no ride, not even sex. (Yes, paranoiac harp on pedophilia, but pedophiles are only slightly less rare than unicorns, and no, people who are attracted to teenagers aren’t pedophiles. If you’re one of those assholes who conflates the two, kindly bugger yourself with a rusty harpoon.)

    Meanwhile, something like 93 percent of all sexual assaults against children are perpetrated by caretakers or others in trusted positions: parents, siblings, relatives, teachers, babysitters, clergy.

    Brainwashing our children fear strangers leaves them vulnerable. They’re less equipped to recognize warning signs in people they know, and they’re helpless when alone in a unfamiliar situations. Unable to approach a kindly, disinterested strange who might be able to render aid, they’re left to panic, drawing attention from those with more nefarious motives or cowards whose first instinct is to involve the police instead of lending a helping hand. As we all know by now, “interventions” are often more traumatic than the original danger.

    In other words, inculcating fear of strangers in children is a form of psychological cruelty.

    1. If I had to hypothesize, I’d say that the best thing to teach is to be aware of one’s surroundings, to be nice to people – even strangers – but not to follow them up dark alleys, etc. Which they wouldn’t ask you to do anyway unless they had something unpleasant in mind.

      I really wouldn’t presume to prescribe the right balance between teaching that (a) people are generally kind and helpful to kids and (b) there are exceptions to (a).

      1. It’s a sticky problem to be sure. I’m not advocating that we raise children to have a Pollyanna sensibility that would lead them to simply walk off with strangers. My kids used to do that all the time in Germany, and it occasioned no small amount of anxiety, even though I knew the risk was minimal. But when I see a little kid shrink back in terror when I simply offer my hand for a friendly shake, I can’t help but wonder what kind of fucked-up conditioning her parents are putting her through.

        1. I don’t claim to have the One Right Answer, but staying in public places – or places where it’s not just you and some stranger – would be a start.

          Or photographing your surroundings with a cell with instant upload to the Internet.

          1. I mean, I don’t know if I was exposed to enough risk as a kid – a vital learning experience, but by definition with a danger of some bad outcome. That’s why sports are popular, I think – the risk is that you lose, get humiliated and injure various parts of your body, which should be sufficient incentive to work to succeed – but it doesn’t kill you, and whatever doesn’t kill you – at this stage of life – makes you stronger.

          2. Right, and there’s a huge difference between walking up to a stranger for the purpose of asking to use his cell phone to call Mom and walking off with him to a hotel room or a dark alley. In this situation, the child obtains help while remaining in full view of the public, thereby minimizing risk, which I think is the goal.

    2. To counter, I saw a study a while back that suggested that kids really have no idea what a stranger is. Kids tend to default to only trusting people in uniform. You know, like ice cream truck guys…

  16. This over reaction has been going on for decades. Just look at any old Sid Davis Production film from the 50’s or 60’s (Boys Beware is the most notorious of his films). In Sid’s world every child was in constant danger of being maimed, molested, or dying.

  17. Well, I have always taught my boys that if they felt they were in any danger, run right to the local parish priest and he will take care of them. OH SHIT!!

  18. Last week, some lady I never met, whom I’d only talked to briefly on occasion on the internet, came to my apartment to see me. I still don’t know her real name, and I’ve long been aware that she makes her living in a criminal business. She knew almost nothing about me before hand.

    We spent an hour and a half sitting on the couch, talking, and then she had to leave.

    I had a fantastic time, and I would love to do it again.

    I’m guessing it goes just as well for most other people in similar situations.

  19. I spend time trying to protect the internet from my kids. My oldest likes to troll on the Wall Street Journal online. I had to explain to him today that it is inappropriate to call an older woman a “pompous old windbag” even when there is demonstrable proof it is true.

  20. I’ve seen this going around. I can think of few things more psychologically damaging to those poor girls than this setup and abuse by their parents. Truly horrifying. No wonder the girls wanted to meet someone who new who treated them nicely. Good doing dads…

  21. Those low numbers of actual threats to children on the sex offender registry shows how pernicious it is.

  22. It is very unlikely for children in the US to be kidnaped by strangers, but letting your children be used by Facebook exposes them to many other forms of harm. See stallman.org/facebook.

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