You might be thinking ‘who the hell is this guy?’ right about now but by the end of this article you’ll know exactly who he is and have a firm opinion on what he does. He was relatively unknown until a couple of months ago when a documentary, airing on Channel 4, catapulted him into the public eye. This documentary was entitled ‘The Pedophile Hunter’.
Whilst the Internet has brought with it a tremendous amount of advantages, it also inadvertently provided sexual predators the chance to be just a few clicks away from their victims. Children or teenagers accessing chat rooms, Facebook, Twitter and any other social media sites could fall victim to unwanted sexual advances from sexual predators. The sheer vastness of the Internet means the police will always fail to catch every threat before it turns into action, this is where Stinson Hunter comes in.
In 2009, after a growing worry at what the children of our ‘online generation’ could fall victim to, he became the Pedophile Hunter. He began creating fake profiles of girls aged 11-15 to hunt out and trap online sexual predators. He has never contacted anyone first, as he states “it’s like fishing, you put a rod in there and just wait”. So that’s what he did, and the results are horrifying. Men of all ages would contact what they thought was a young girl. Stinson, acting as the girl, before the conversation went any further, would always emphasise the suggested age of the girl, be it 12 or 13, and if the man continued to converse with them Stinson could begin his inquest. After trying to keep the conversation neutral, usually the man in question would try to discuss sex, send sexually explicit pictures and ask for them in return, the conversation would eventually turn into “I’d love to meet you”. And when they did, Stinson and his crew would be waiting, cameras in hand.
You would assume, knowing the nature of this individual they are about to meet, tempers would be high and someone amongst Stinson’s passionate group would get a little emotional and confront the man in the way perhaps all of us would want to confront a pedophile. But they don’t. Stinson sits the man down, states that no hostility would be ventured and all he wanted to do was ask a few questions and they’d go from there. Some men would run, some would confess, but most seemed to deny all knowledge that the girl they were meeting was underage, or that there were no sexual intentions motivating the meeting. In order to expose the man and his actions the whole process is videoed and uploaded directly to Stinson’s own website and youtube.com for the whole world to see, the accused has no where to hide. Then, he contacts the police alerting them of the potential threat this man poses and moves onto the next.
Despite Stinson being linked to the arrests of over 100 men across the country his actions have been widely criticised, mainly due to his use of social media. Branding a man a pedophile online before they’ve even been arrested or charged with the crime can ruin not only the lives of the individual but also their families. Some families linked with men that Stinson has ‘trapped’ have received death threats, lost jobs and homes, and one family lost a husband and a father after the man accused committed suicide, without the police showing any interest to arrest. The accused themselves could also be victim to other vigilante justice dissimilar to Stinson’s non-violent approach. And this is all before they’ve been proven guilty, doesn’t the saying always go ‘Innocent Until Proven Guilty’?
Another issue is the potential risk to ongoing court cases and investigations. If Stinson traps a man who is already being investigated or has a history of child abuse, the individual might destroy evidence once they know Stinson is on to them, damaging the police’s investigations. And if anyone linked to Stinson and his team threatens the accused or harms them in any way Stinson could be arrested for perverting the course of justice. A scary end to something that began with good intentions.
With all this being said, it doesn’t seem like Stinson does any of this just for laughs, or to annoy people or to point out the failures of the police, he simply feels children online need more protection. And he’s providing just that by being aid to many arrests of awful men. He’s also doing a great job of bringing the subject of pedophilia into public conversation, something we perhaps could have done with in previous years. After the Burberry advert featuring 12 year old Romeo Beckham aired on TV a girl in her mid twenties tweeted “Romeo Beckham you are like 10 and so hot”, something I’m sure she regretted after Stinson was quick to name and shame her. He made the point that what if this was a male discussing a ‘hot’ 12 year old girl? The whole world would go crazy, but because it was a girl few people looked twice at it. He declared something we all know but sometimes perhaps forget, that pedophilia isn’t limited to men, both sexes are capable of the crime.
I think what Stinson Hunter and his crew are doing is a good thing. If he is able to catch and stop just one pedophile from taking advantage of one child then everything he has done has been worthwhile. I agree that some of his methods do have the potential to do some damage in regards to court cases and investigations, and maybe that’s something he will change in the future. But at the same time, if he is seeing the true intentions of these men, why shouldn’t they be named and shamed? Won’t that keep our children safer if we know who and where the predators are? Even if the police don’t have enough to arrest and charge, the threat has been exposed and any action is perhaps easier to stop. Perhaps some sexual predators will avoid all the easy routes to victims if they fear a Stinson Hunter is on the receiving end of that message.
So I’d love to know what you think about Stinson and his pedophile hunting. Is he a vigilante hero who should be celebrated and funded or an interfering nuisance who should just let the police do their job?
If you’d like more information on Stinson and what he does here are a few links to check out;
The Pedophile Hunter documentary is still available on4oD