by lionandpeace

My sister, like any Gen-Z teenager, is addicted to the internet. That is mostly because the social stratosphere now exists eternally on the internet — school friends, acquaintances, and family members are spoken to instantly and constantly. But of course, this gives way to child predators taking advantage of teenagers on Snapchat.

Never before has it been possible to connect to your social world in this way, but never before has it been easier to groom children as a paedophile.

We are quick with our negative sentiments surrounding social media — that it is time consuming, perpetuating low self-esteems, or as the boomers never fail to make us aware of the fact, that “kids these days never look up from their phones these days”.

Yet what is still often overlooked when discussing the negatives of social media, particularly for our younger loved ones, is the surge of paedophiles.

This isn’t a recent phenomenon with social media — there were paedophiles lurking on MySpace and Bebo, but with newer social platforms like Snapchat, it makes it simple for paedophiles to go about their business with little to no evidence incriminating them.

Snapchat is extremely popular with the youth of today, and one of its defining features is the ephemerality of messaging. A conversation or exchanging of pictures can occur with any trace of its history being wiped away instantaneously.

Unquestionably, this makes paedophiles confident, so much so one in my local area decided to pop-up to my younger sister.

It doesn’t help that teenagers trade vigilance for naivety. My sister had first came into contact with the paedophile through a ‘follow-for-follow’ promotional scheme among her friends. This involves someone sharing a video or picture of themselves on someone else’s social media, with the intention to add more friends.

This leads to trouble, and indeed it did. My 14 year old sister was contacted by some guy claiming to be 16, and had been very persistent in his advances in trying to make her his girlfriend.

But his story didn’t add up. His age kept changing, his story was different every time, and his advances were extremely inappropriate.

My sister, feeling obviously uncomfortable at the time, blocked him. But since this was the first time something like that happened, it lingered in her mind.

“It made me feel so uncomfortable. I felt like throwing my phone away and never talking to anyone again.”

My intuition called for me to do something. It might have been a good idea to keep him blocked, but it is frustrating letting perverts like these get away with harassing girls, and it wasn’t a precedent I wanted to set. My sister deserved the right to feel powerful in this world, having a voice against scum like these.

I admit some inspiration drawn from the vigilante paedophile hunters spawning across the world. By apprehending individuals clear in their intent to rape minors, they would actively bring these people to justice where the police would do nothing.

So when my sister told me about him, I told her to unblock him, with the intention of catching him red-handed. I wanted to see how far he would go with his alibi.

He quickly reappeared, without my sister initiating a conversation, and apologised for lying about his age. He was now 17, apologising for his former deceit, and wanted to start a relationship founded upon honesty.

Guys will say anything to get what they want. So I did too.

I took my sister’s phone, and played along with what he wanted. Via my sister’s account, I said I was willing to be his girlfriend.

Almost immediately, he was candid about wanting to take her virginity, and meeting somewhere in city centre. I made out my sister to be an impressionable teenager not knowing what he was referring to, but our dear friend was more than happy to fill us in.

Nearly everything this paedophile was saying filled me with disgust and rage, but for my sister it was completely shocking for a guy to be so open about making sure she has “no grass on the pitch”, and to “not be on her period”.

He even went so far as to book a hotel reservation, and send pictures of his underpants. I thought “surely, now we got him”.

Though she is 14, I hadn’t anticipated much of this being shocking to her. I thought as a teenage girl, predators like these would be around. But it felt like the situation had finally shot holes in whatever remained of her childhood innocence.

Something had to be done about the situation.

My first inclination was to beat him up. But it wouldn’t be the right thing to do, and risk my negotiating power.

Ringing the police was an option, but it isn’t my preferred way of dealing with things.

We knew he was Pakistani, and the best place to hit him was at home in front of his parents.

As a Pakistani myself, we exist in a social circle where everyone knows everyone. All we need is a name, a picture, and we can easily find out where someone lives. By some coincidence, a friend of my close friend knew his brothers from school, and got an address.

It would be one thing going to the police, but I’m sure if this person’s mum knew about what he was doing, I wouldn’t have to beat the fuck out of him myself. So me, my friend, and my brother rolled up to the house on the day he was meant to meet my sister in a hotel room.

We ring the doorbell. He appears from the front window. He peeks his head out, and instantly I see red. Knowing I have to play my cards right, I asked where his mum was.

“What’s it regarding?”, he asks with some suspicion.

“I’ll tell your mum what it’s fucking regarding”, I replied.

His mum peeks out the window the same way as her son. I show her a picture of her son we got from his Instagram, and asked if this was him. She recognises the picture.

I ask her how old he is. She says 19.

So he’s lied about his age. From 16, to 17, and now, 19. So much for an honest relationship.

We tell her what’s happened, showing her screenshots of what her son has been saying to my younger sister. She takes my word for it, yet reluctant to read the messages mostly in shame. She says she understands, as a mother and as a sister, but tries to exit the awkward social situation with haste. I don’t blame her.

But I insist to make him stand in front of me, so he can hear what kind of a person he is.

Out steps his father who had just been disturbed sleeping after a night shift. We tell him the same, and he says he will deal with it by taking his phone off him, among other things. They apologise, and we are happy with how things have turned out — mostly, that at least something was done about it.

My sister goes on to expose him on her Snapchat, where other girls as young as 12 have come forward saying he had approached them inappropriately, but had no idea he was that age.

It shocked me this was an ongoing problem, and had we not decided to unblock him, he would’ve once again got away with it.

But it appeared he still managed to get away with it. My sister caught him still active on Snapchat, even when we thought his phone was taken away from him.

What had his parents actually done?

In the fortnight proceeding the confrontation, word spreads about what he has done around his college and at my sister’s school. But word also spreads that he is unapologetic about what he has done, apparently bragging to his friends about his accomplishments, and gone forward to speak to other girls doing the same thing.

He really did get away with it, didn’t he!

Feeling like little was done by their parents, plan A and plan B came to mind:

We could go ahead with the original plan A (leave him bruised), or attempt civility a final time with his family. Going with plan B, I thought what better way to do that, than bring my sister and cousin along for the ride, anticipating a female voice would be able to give my message some weight which mine were clearly unable to.

But this time, two weeks later, his mum opened the door immediately with rage shouting, “what has he done this time?!”

She said it was impossible he was messaging anyone, since they had confiscated his phone and locked it up. We explained that despite this, he was able to log into Snapchat on his friend’s device, which is probably what happened.

Perhaps seeing our second visit as an attack on her parenthood, she blames my sister for provoking and leading him on, accusing her of spreading gossip for exposing the chat logs on her Snapchat story.

My elder cousin, a mother herself, stepped in to explain that despite what she may think of how the news got out, it is certain her son is a paedophile grooming young girls, which isn’t a matter to be taken lightly.

An ultimatum was presented; either his mum called the feds, or my cousin would volunteer to do so later that evening.

Little did we know, the police would catch word of it as we discovered when they rolled up to our house unprecedented. But my cousin wasn’t the one who said anything.

It turns out that his college caught word of him talking to younger girls, and the police were referred to our address to get a statement.

Caught off guard, the last thing I wanted to do when I went downstairs was talk to the police, but I had to tell them everything I’ve just told you.

He asked for the screenshots, and pieced the admittedly overdrawn situation together. He conceded being a junior officer, and would have to consult his sergeant for a conclusion.

The sergeant said there was nothing they could do, because the paedophile hadn’t really done anything.

I thought surely there were grounds to suggest he actually did something — his intention to sleep with a minor were clear by the fact he made a reservation at a hotel in town, sent a picture of his underpants, and concrete evidence proving he lied about his age.

Including the fact that my sister wasn’t the only one — there was another 14 and 12 year old we had screenshots of him chatting to!

But the officer said the case would hypothetically fall apart in court, because it could be turned against us as provoking him into saying those things.

In other words, because he was solicited, it is hard to tell whether he would genuinely go through with it or not if unprovoked.

I asked — “so it takes for someone to get raped before you’re able to do something about it?”, and he replied, “that’s just the system unfortunately”.

Suddenly it became very apparent why paedophile vigilantism had risen in recent years — because the system fails to persecute those intending to do such heinous crimes, until they have actually done them.

He said he would just have to warn him, and if he does it again, then he would be facing conviction.

The story would end here, had it not been for the paedophile and his family spontaneously arriving to my grandma’s house in the late night.

They demanded to speak to me and my sister, accusing us of spreading a false narrative. Apparently word caught out of his acts, and a group of people ambushed him and gave him a well-deserved red eye. Good.

The very nerve of him coming to my grandma’s house angered me, especially when nobody there was complicit in rushing him. Now, I wish I had.

My nieces were staying at my grandma’s that night and his family had made her cry in tears, scared that five random men (one an actual paedophile!) had arrived to the house. My grandma rang the police, who took statements, and since then, the police has said they won’t be escalating the situation further.

His family apparently justify his paedophilic actions — focusing more on their family honour being disgraced, than the pressing issue that their family member is a proven paedophile!

But I am determined to let this story out; for the world to hear what he is, and to spread awareness of an issue that could be affecting your vulnerable loved ones.

Adding to the motivation for writing this story is frankly the lack of justice surrounding instances of paedophile grooming, both by police and families of the predator, especially when there is more than enough evidence to suggest it could occur.

Attempting murder is a felony, but attempting rape? Nothing more than a stern warning to the pedo, who still has the confidence to show his face at my grandma’s door. How they found the address? Someone clearly opened their mouth.

Vigilante justice is seemingly the only way victims can apprehend a paedophile. Even public exposition is enough for all to be wary of characters like these.

Though there is a lot of criticism against taking it into your own hands by authorities, it becomes clear to see why vigilantes do what they do when our current justice systems have let them get away with it, especially when clear intentions of paedophilia have been expressed.

At the end of day, had we not done what we done, we would not have learned this guy did the same to other girls younger than my sister, and neither would his parents.

So in some small way, alongside writing this article, I like to think karma ultimately had her way.