Sweetie - the girl who helped identify 1,000 child sex predators

Sweetie - the girl who helped identify 1,000 child sex predators

Have you heard Sweetie's story? It will open your eyes to the horror that is webcam child sex tourism. We also bring you valuable information on how to keep your children safe online. This story is a must-read for every parent and non-parent out there.

A video is doing the rounds on social media these days. It was first publicized on www.upworthy.com, and when I watched it for the first time my heart froze.

The video introduces us to Sweetie, a Filipino girl. She is just 10 years old. She is sweet, she is innocent. And she is being hunted by thousands of predatory men from all around the world.

The video puts together clips of men engaging in sex chats with this little girl. In some clips they are fondling their genitals, asking her to strip too.

I was so angry when I first saw this that I didn't realise something very important about Sweetie... that she is actually a computer generated model specially created to catch online sex predators.

Sweetie's story

Sweetie was created by an amazing organisation in The Netherlands called Terre des Hommes International Federation (TDHIF)dedicated to fighting global child exploitation.

According to TDHIF,  Webcam Child Sex Tourism (WCST) is the newest way Internet predators are hunting young victims.

It is 2 forms of sexual exploitation in one: child pornography and child  prostitution. WCST is a crime that happens tens of thousands of times a day. It is a crime that often goes unnoticed and unpunished.

But it's not all bad news. With Sweetie's help, TDHIF has been able to identify and gather information on over 1,000 webcam sex tourists from more than 65 countries. 

They have handed this information over to the police. Sweetie's story also shows us in Singapore how the horrendous crime that is WCST is being committed on kids right in our very own backyard  -- in neighbouring Asian countries such as the Philippines.

So how do we keep our children safe? What exactly is WCST? Who do you go to for help if you know this crime is being committed?

According to TDHIF, webcam child sex tourism is as harmful as physical sex. Research shows how child victims of WCST suffer psychologically.

webcam child sex tourism The psychological impact of online sex abuse on a child can be devastating. They can develop a low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress syndrome and uncontrollable feelings of guilt, shame and disgrace.

What's even more heartbreaking is that most children feel obliged to participate in WCST to help their family members financially.

What is webcam child sex tourism?

This information is sourced from the TDGIF website.

  • WCST is when pedophiles pay to view kids (usually from poor countries) performing sexual acts in front of webcams.
  • Child victims of WCST in the Philippines say they pose naked, show intimate body parts, masturbate, and sometimes have sex with others.
  • WCST leaves almost no evidence.
  • The UN and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation estimate there are 750,000 predators  connected to the Internet at any given moment.
  • WCST is known to take place on a large scale in the Philippines.
  • Most child victims of this crime range from just 6 to 17 years old.

Does WCST happen in Singapore?

The Singapore government in 2008 made changes to the Penal Code that criminalize prostitution involving anyone under 18 years of age. These amendments are also relevant to Singaporeans who sexually exploit children in other countries.

The law makes organizing or promoting child sex tourism a criminal offense.

Characteristics of a webcam sexual tourist

The scary thing about webcam sexual tourists is that they are not necessarily always 'pedophiles'.

They can be adults seeking sexual gratification from anyone, including very young children. This group of adults may not necessarily fit in to the official definition of a pedophile, but are perverted enough to pay to view webcam sex performances by children.

webcam child sex tourism The danger of the Internet is that a predator can connect with our children at any time, anywhere if we are not vigilant. Talk to even your teenage children about Internet safety and the danger of online sex abuse.

How do online predators work?

  • They locate kids through chat rooms, social networking, blogs and similar websites.
  • Online predators seduce their targets through attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts.
  • They know about the latest music and hobbies likely to interest kids.
  • Predators will listen to and sympathize with kids' problems.
  • They will gradually introduce sexual content into their conversations or show them sexually explicit material

Important information on protecting our kids from online predators - next page please. 

How do we protect our kids from online predators?

Parents must be aware of what they can do to protect their kids from Internet sex predators. Here are some tips sourced from microsoft.com.

  • Talk to your kids about sexual predators and potential online dangers.
  • Follow age limits on social networking websites. Most social networking sites require that users be age 13 and over.
  • Young children should not use chat rooms. If you have older kids, direct them towards well-monitored kids' chat rooms.
  • Make sure you know which chat rooms your child visits and with whom they talk.
  • Instruct your children to never leave the chat room's public area. Many chat rooms offer private areas where users can have one-on-one chats with other users. These are often called "whisper" areas. 
  • Keep the Internet-connected computer in a common area of the house, never in a child's bedroom. It is much more difficult for a predator to reach your child if the computer screen is easily visible.

webcam child sex tourism Young children should not use chat rooms. If you have older kids, direct them towards well-monitored kids' chat rooms.

Parents remember: If your child receives sexually explicit photos from anyone online, or if she or he is solicited sexually online, contact the police.

Save any information including email addresses, website addresses, and chat logs to share with the police.

Sweetie's story certainly opened my eyes to the very real danger of online sex tourism and online sex predators. I hope your eyes are now open too.

Sign the petition to stop online sex tourism here: https://www.youtube.com/sweetie




What are the ways you protect your child online? Do share your valuable tips with us by leaving a comment.

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