Tilburg Univ. advances “Sweetie” research; virtual child lures pedophiles

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Sweetie 2.0 is going online in April. Sweetie is a virtual little girl, created by Terre des Hommes, used to lure and trap people looking for webcam sex with children. Sweetie 1.0 traced a thousand men wanting online sex with her in just two months, Omroep Brabant reports.

Forensic psychologist Stefan Bogaerts at the University of Tilburg is one of those working on Sweetie 2.0. "Detection is one thing. But it's also about understanding and discouraging", he said in program Onder On.s

Bogaerts has been studying the psyche of sexual offenders over the past 20 years. According to him, not all the men exposed by Sweetie 1.0 are necessarily pedophiles, as that is not a diagnosis you can make from a distance. The can all be called "child abusers". There are three type of men looking for webcam sex with children, he said. "Some are lost on the internet and end up in chat rooms. Others go look for chat rooms with children out of curiosity. And there are men who seek financial gain."

According to him, Sweetie focuses on the group of men who are curious about webcam sex with children. "If we unmasked someone we inform him: 'you are committing a crime'. We try to discourage him and, if possible, we advise him to go to a doctor." After the first warning, the men are traced. "If they go wrong again, they receive a third warning. After the third time they are reported." According to Bogaerts, only a small group of these men move up from webcam sex to sex with children in the real world.

Every day some 750 thousand men are looking for webcam sex with children online. In the Philippines alone thousands of children fall victim to webcam sex. Sweetie 1.0 unmasked about a thousand of these men in two months time. They come from 70 countries, 20 of them come from the Netherlands. In 2014 an Australian man was the f as a result of the Sweetie undercover operation.

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