No matter which country or continent, mothers across the world want nothing more than the best for their sons, and will usually do whatever it takes to make sure their loved ones have everything they need in life.
When Gemma checked her son’s cell phone, she was left stunned by the “crude and disgusting” messages she read. The boy was only 15, and very innocent, or so his mom assumed. When she confronted her son about the messages, things went from bad to worse…
Gemma was having a normal kind of Tuesday. Her son, who cannot be named for legal reasons as he is a minor, was a good boy on the whole, if not a little boisterous at times, but which 15-year-old boy isn’t? He was into computer games, watching action movies, and was of course, almost always glued to his smartphone.
That evening however, Gemma’s son was playing up and she had to do something to punish him. She knew how reliant he was on his phone and knew that he would learn his lesson if she confiscated it and grounded him for the night. The young lad was in a spot of trouble, but that was nothing compared to what was about to come…
Like most boys his age, the boy mainly communicated with his friends and even relatives by text message. It probably wasn’t the right thing to do to read his texts and invade his privacy, but Gemma was certainly pleased that she did, even if she was left speechless and in shock after she read the contents.
Let alone the fact that the text messages she read were lewd to say the least, she didn’t even understand some of the sexual terminology there. Before she checked the internet, Gemma showed the text messages to her husband, the boy’s father, who was equally stunned by the messages he read. He had never heard of some of the things mentioned and they both grew concerned…
There was nothing funny about it, these text messages on the boy’s phone made it seem like he was communicating with a prostitute who was offering him her services, unaware of his real age. Had the woman have known that the boy was only 15, things may have been different, but he lied and told her he was 24.
This story highlights the challenges parents face while trying to protect their children from the darker side of the internet. The boy and his friend found the prostitute with the greatest of ease, on a site called backpage.com which also operates in Australia. It took the boys just a few minutes to get the phone number of the working girl, and to begin corresponding with her…
For obvious reasons, neither the boy nor his buddy wanted anyone to know what they had been looking at on the internet during math class. “He was grounded and so we took his phone off him,” Gemma said. “A reply came through and we were naturally concerned, so we got his password, opened his phone and that’s when we discovered all these messages from so-called escorts from backpage.” The boy pleaded with his mother not to take the matter further, but to no avail.
Gemma almost felt like she had let her son down even though she hadn’t done anything wrong. All she did was allow her boy to surf the web freely and then this happened. She said she just couldn’t get over how casual the interaction was, and how easy it would have been for a 15-year-old boy to meet a prostitute for sex…
Gemma spoke about how shocked she was for her son’s sexual and physical safety, “Language in the texts advertised unprotected sex, no questions asked. They said ‘yes’, gave a price and an address. Imagine if my son had’ve met up with these escorts. What could’ve happened? What could’ve been waiting for him? It’s not just a massive concern about sexual safety — it’s physical safety.” she said.
No Crimes Committed
While Gemma is now calling on lawmakers and police to monitor the sex industry more closely, in this particular case no laws have actually been broken and no crimes have been committed. For that matter, the police have already informed Gemma and her husband that they cannot take the matter further as it was all on text messages…
It wasn’t as if there was any build up at all, and certainly nothing that could be considered foreplay. After seeing the advert online, Gemma’s son fired off a text message, “Hey, how are you? Just wondering if you’re still offering [special] service[s]? I’m clean, 24 and I’m (sic) good shape.” the response he received was even more surprising.
Almost immediately, the boy received a response to his inquiry, “Hi, yes I am still offering [special] service[s], I’m just not available tonight for incalls as my hotel options are closed for checking in,” adding, “I am free every day and night thought (sic).” But the woman had no idea that she was sexting with a minor as he had lied and said he was older…
As if the serious sexual innuendo, if you can even call it that, wasn’t bad enough for Gemma, she was even more horrified when she read a text message from her son to the girl which read, “Can I come there? Prob start first sesh for 2 hours and see if we hit it off. I’ll bring some party so we can chill a little too.” Some “party” in this case is a reference to cannabis, which the boy already admitted to smoking when he confirmed in a text that he was “420 friendly.”
As Gemma’s son soon found out, these ‘special services’ don’t come cheap. His eyes almost popped out of his head when he received the following text message from his potential date, “Okay sweet well can we lock in a particular night? Like could you make it down here tomorrow night and I’ll grab a nice apartment near the bay? Just FYI 2 hours is $900 full (natural) service.” Nevertheless, the $900 price tag didn’t seem to bother the teen at all and he carried on trying to make plans…
Gemma was simply outraged by how easy it was for her son to potentially engage in sex in sexual acts with a prostitute, “nobody is policing” online classifieds Gemma said, adding, “We can’t understand why nobody is doing anything about it. Nobody really cares. I don’t think anyone will care until it happens to their own child,” she told reporters.
Not Attacking Workers
Gemma and her husband made it clear that they have no beef with working girls at all, but rather the fact that their 15-year-old son almost became a customer, “We don’t have an issue with legal prostitution, we understand it’s a job for some people. It’s just so wrong that this is so accessible,” she said.
While law enforcement are concerned about these types of things, they told Gemma that there wasn’t much they could do as she failed to report the matter to them immediately. A spokesman for the Victoria Police told reporters, “If the 15-year-old has simply contacted a person to see what services were on offer, there’s no way that the person receiving the message would know the age of the sender. Therefore no offence would have been committed in regards to the boy being a minor.”
The FBI take selling sex online very seriously and even have a dedicated unit which deals specifically with such cases. Just recently, backpage.com was shut down by the feds, while its co-founder, Michael Lacey was charged with helping mastermind a scheme to use a website to sell sex. Lacey pleaded not guilty but was ordered to wear and electronic tracking device and to report to a magistrate regularly…
When the truth came out about backpage.com, even the federal agents working the case were shocked. After the website’s chief executive Carl Ferrer was arrested, it came to light that the company had been laundering money as well as selling sex. The website reportedly generated more than $500 million since 2004 and much of that money was purposely left without a paper trail.
While this story highlights some of the perils of the internet for minors, parents need to understand that smartphones are very much a part of teenagers’ lives and aren’t going away any time soon. It may be a hard lesson but sometimes tough love is necessary, especially if a parent is able to guide and direct their children to surf the right things online. As the old adage goes, “all’s well that ends well,” and thankfully that was very much the case here.
Note: Gemma was a name made up to protect the identity of the people featured in this story.