A new viral prank video showing a young man posing as a 15 year old boy and luring teen girls he meets online has taught a very scary lesson.
The video was posted on YouTube by Coby Persin, a YouTuber who makes dozens of prank videos and has over a million subscribers. Titled “Dangers of Social Media (Child Predator Social Experiment)”, the video has over 11 million views and was only released on August 10.
In the video, Persin pretends to be a 15-year-old boy online and arranges with young girls to meet them, all with the girls’ parents in on the prank. When the girl does meet him, the parents run out and scream at their child for their dangerous behaviour. It’s all caught on camera.
One scene in the video shows a 14-year-old girl responding to a text from Persin and getting into his van, without ever having met him in person before. What she doesn’t know is that her parents were masked in the back seat. When she shuts the van door, they grab her from behind and she screams, incredibly frightened thinking she is being abducted, only for her parents to pull off their masks and reveal themselves.
While the intention of the video means well, authorities are clear they do not condone these sorts of pranks.
“The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) doesn’t support the scare tactics used in this video and the possible impact they may have on the children,” says Sandra Glendinning of the VPD.
However, Glendinning does agree there is a very real concern for children being lured online by internet predators. The VPD have warned parents and youth of the issue before, and have a webpage with suggested methods for decreasing the risk a child faces online.
Some tactics include:
- Set reasonable rules and guidelines for your children when they use the computer, and monitor them
- Become social media savvy yourself and become friends with your children online
- If you don’t know how to use the internet, there are several courses available that are specifically geared towards parents/guardians
- Never allow your child to arrange a face-to-face meeting with another computer user without parental permission. If you do give permission, make the first meeting in a public spot and go with your child! There is no guarantee that the person you are meeting is, in fact, another 12 year-old and not a 40 year-old man
The police also make note that it is important to teach children and teens these lessons without scaring them and making them live in fear of society. “Remember that most people are good,” reminds the VPD.
Persin’s video is not the first of its kind to scare both parents and kids. In May of this year, another video which featured a man approaching young children on the playground and convincing them to go see a puppy in his car went viral and has since received over 9 million views.
Statistics Canada reports there were 1,190 incidents of luring a child via a computer reported to police in 2014, up from 850 in 2013. There were a total of 4,452 sexual violations against children and 393 reported abductions that year.
Watch the video below: