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PiratePony

Underage Dating/Pedophilia on MLP Forums

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Ideally, the policy would be communicated in such away as to be codified to include users and volunteers of this site. A dismissal clause is, unfortunately, not enough to protect Poniverse from liability if inaction can be shown to be willful negligence. Two birds with one stone to prevent the liability of the NPO and to protect any possible innocents. 

There is a legitimate vested interest of all parties who run and use this site to address this. 

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1 hour ago, Jeric said:

Ideally, the policy would be communicated in such away as to be codified to include users and volunteers of this site. A dismissal clause is, unfortunately, not enough to protect Poniverse from liability if inaction can be shown to be willful negligence. Two birds with one stone to prevent the liability of the NPO and to protect any possible innocents. 

There is a legitimate vested interest of all parties who run and use this site to address this. 

Agreed 100%.

Simply saying "we are not responsible for X" does not actually excuse you. On top of this it looks bad for the community and the people running the site to take a "none of our business" stance on matters taking place on their own site. The fandom as a whole takes a hit from inaction and it is in the best interest of the users, the site owners and the fandom as a whole to take action, and refuse to be negligent about it. There is no downside for the site staff aside from more work and potential headaches, but the gain in the long-term is well worth it. It will ward away predators from this site and partially the fandom as a whole if they see it's dealt with swiftly.

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14 hours ago, Key Sharkz said:

Agreed 100%.

Simply saying "we are not responsible for X" does not actually excuse you. On top of this it looks bad for the community and the people running the site to take a "none of our business" stance on matters taking place on their own site. The fandom as a whole takes a hit from inaction and it is in the best interest of the users, the site owners and the fandom as a whole to take action, and refuse to be negligent about it. There is no downside for the site staff aside from more work and potential headaches, but the gain in the long-term is well worth it. It will ward away predators from this site and partially the fandom as a whole if they see it's dealt with swiftly.

well said.

we as a community should be on the look out for such predators because there are many minors on here who may fall into their hands, especially because the community revolves around a children's show and is home to many minors. furthermore, as members of this community we should help the staff in dealing with these cases.

Edited by gaspingsirens
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This is an issue that has been all over the internet for a while and, unfortunately, may continue for a long time to come. As @Jeric eluded to, the actions of ToonKriticY2K have brought this issue to the forefront of many people's mind in our fandom and it is something that must be addressed in order to both protect members of our community and discourage those who may commit such atrocities.

Edited by sciencewill98
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I will be the odd one out here and say that I partly oppose this.

Before I say anything else, I would just like to clarify that if sexual activity (or attempts of such) takes place between a minor and an adult here on MLP Forums, action should obviously be taken (we would of course take action even if it's a legal matter since mlpf is PG-13, but dealing with this would be a whole different story). Even if the underage person states that he/she is of legal age, this cannot be used as an excuse as the set age should be viewed as accurate unless the person in question can provide proof of their real age. "Minor" in this case would be decided by the laws of the country which hosts the site.

That aside, dating a minor is perfectly legal. Unless MLPF prohibits relationship talk ("I love you", "I want to hug you", "Be mine"), differently aged couples should be left alone after checking if their relationship is consensual. Staff should make no difference between the relationship of two 20 year olds and the relationship between a 15 & 30 year old, regardless of their personal feelings on the matter. Your disgust is irrelevant if there is no sign of illegal activity.

Furthermore, assuming that erotic role-play or similar has taken place outside of MLPF without evidence is wrong. Most likely it is accurate, but by asking the users in question through PM whether their relationship is OK on both ends, you have already done all you should unless they admit to doing something sexual themselves. If these people lie they probably do so because they both want it (and even if the young person do not, you can't prove this if they say otherwise), and it is none of your business. You can't accuse them for something you can't prove and it's not your place to investigate. Making an accusation based on false assumptions is even worse than ignoring the certain. Hunting down couples who happily engage in illegal sexual activities together is a system I want no part of. Partly because I think it's not your cause to examine, partly because it doesn't happen on your platform and is therefore not relevant unless there is proof (even less so if it happens between two people in a country where it is legal since they don't show it on the site itself), and (very controversial, I know, and I don't care) partly because I do not agree with the laws surrounding underage sex. (If anyone for some reason is interested to know where I stand, open spoiler)

 

I believe sex & relationships should be possible between any two people above an age when they are aware what they are doing and the consequences of it. I don't have a specific number, but let's say 13. If it is consensual and they are both above this age, the age difference should not matter at all. I know people who, at an age below 15 (age of consent in Sweden) "met" with adults. Not because they were hunted by predators, but because they wanted to (This text is just here to make the identification of the people in question more obvious). The current laws prevent these kind of people from being able to love or make love with the people they want just because society has decided that it's disgusting. It's just the same as hating on gays and you should all be ashamed.

I recall reading a post about having to prove ourselves as a caring community by actively searching for "predators", but what's the point in that if you don't have any evidence? Why the need to search when you can be optimistic and assume everything about the relationship is legal? Might as well open up staff applications for an investigation position to filter out all drug-users on the site as well if that's how you're gonna be like. You're not the police and unless you have a reason to accuse someone for being a sexual predator, don't act like it.

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9 hours ago, Jokuc said:

That aside, dating a minor is perfectly legal. Unless MLPF prohibits relationship talk ("I love you", "I want to hug you", "Be mine"), differently aged couples should be left alone after checking if their relationship is consensual. Staff should make no difference between the relationship of two 20 year olds and the relationship between a 15 & 30 year old, regardless of their personal feelings on the matter. Your disgust is irrelevant if there is no sign of illegal activity.

One of my posts mentioned something outside of criminal or moral implications. Poniverse is a non-profit Canadian corporation. I mentioned liability and willful negligence. 

Back when there was talk of adding an NSFW subforum here, I did excessive due diligence research into various matters, one of them was something like this. Poniverse needs to protect itself. There is no public policy addressing this, and considering that there is actual prior history on this site of both underage dating, and members solicitating photos of minors, and this and other threads exist, willful negligence is a concern and can easily be shown. 

As I stated, the dating element is more of a grey area (and in some cases I have no moral issues), but it can be shown, if implicitly allowed, that the corporation permitted a predator friendly environment.  Add to the liability of a volunteer staff from the community, and to add the potential of abusing a power dynamic. 

No, a policy is needed, and it needs to be communicated, and then applied fairly in every instance it comes up. 

There's a lot to absorb in this situation. 

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@Jokuc while I understand the points you have brought up, it isn't just about protecting others and it certainly isn't about preventing relationships, it is also required that the staff protect the site from prosecution. That is why the issue of 'dating a minor's is such a grey area. It depends on the circumstances that the staff are aware of and understand as to how each situation is handled.

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And just to put this into context, Anthony Weiner was 'dating' a 15 year old. They did not have intercourse. The majority of the issues where him asking her to dress up as a school girl and they engaged in ERP texting. It started innocently enough. A criminal component is very possible. He is now serving 21 months in prison. 

Thereis something to be said for a prohibitive policy in which, if violated, staff can intervene and say ... not permissable. That early intervention actually stopped at least one relationship from going further that protected both individuals from something that would have escalated easily. 

This isn't an impossible issue to address, though it can be uncomfortable. 

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1 hour ago, sciencewill98 said:

it is required that the staff protect the site from prosecution. It depends on the circumstances that the staff are aware of and understand as to how each situation is handled.

I mean I'm no lawyer, but if you follow a questioning procedure, mention how you cannot rule out the possibility of a non-sexual relationship, and there is no proof or reason to believe there is illegal activity, you cannot be convicted. I'd rather not have mlp forums be overly careful at the expense of its users.

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1 hour ago, Jokuc said:

I'd rather not have mlp forums be overly careful at the expense of its users.

If they have reason to believe that there is more than meets they eye to a situation then they will question those involved, but otherwise thing will probably be left alone. 

But I'm just guessing here

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By underage dating do you consider the age gap being 2-3 years like a 19 year old guy dates a 16-17 year old girl or when the gap is bigger at atleast 5+ years?

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4 hours ago, Cyralicious said:

By underage dating do you consider the age gap being 2-3 years like a 19 year old guy dates a 16-17 year old girl or when the gap is bigger at atleast 5+ years?

I'd consider it as 5+ years, but others may think differently. That's another issue with this kind if stuff.

However, if both in the relationship are adults then there isn't as much of an issue (or even an issue at all) as they both are fully aware of what they are getting into. It's when one is under 18 that it gets into the region of needing to be checked due to the possibility of illegal activity.

But hey, that;s just my opinion.

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6 hours ago, Cyralicious said:

By underage dating do you consider the age gap being 2-3 years like a 19 year old guy dates a 16-17 year old girl or when the gap is bigger at atleast 5+ years?

To give you context, my 16 year old daughter (also a user on this site) is dating an 18 year old boy. I'm fine with that age gap. 

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19 minutes ago, Jeric said:

To give you context, my 16 year old daughter (also a user on this site) is dating an 18 year old boy. I'm fine with that age gap. 

I understand, I'm 19 and I don't really consider myself an adult, even though the state law says that I am one I don't really feel like one since I still do depend on my parents, and I have no intentions on dating girls younger than 17 years, neither here nor in real life, I can't date someone who's so young. So I guess this is more of a problem where the age gap is way too big, like atleast +5 or more which is indeed too big.

Also I'm not from the US so I don't know what's the universal consiution law saying about dating people when one member is an adult and the other one is not +18, I do know that in some states you can go to jail for dating someone under 18 but in most european countries noone bats an eye about that, literally.

Edited by Cyralicious
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7 hours ago, Cyralicious said:

I understand, I'm 19 and I don't really consider myself an adult, even though the state law says that I am one I don't really feel like one since I still do depend on my parents, and I have no intentions on dating girls younger than 17 years, neither here nor in real life, I can't date someone who's so young. So I guess this is more of a problem where the age gap is way too big, like atleast +5 or more which is indeed too big.

Also I'm not from the US so I don't know what's the universal consiution law saying about dating people when one member is an adult and the other one is not +18, I do know that in some states you can go to jail for dating someone under 18 but in most european countries noone bats an eye about that, literally.

Well...adults can date someone under the age of 18 as long as you're not having sex and/or touching them. Like you said, some states you could go to jail just on accusal - but it's not enforced enough tho. 

P.S. Staff shouldn't police this unless they know the legalities of the situation. 

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6 hours ago, Azul Maya said:

Well...adults can date someone under the age of 18 as long as you're not having sex and/or touching them. Like you said, some states you could go to jail just on accusal - but it's not enforced enough tho. 

P.S. Staff shouldn't police this unless they know the legalities of the situation. 

Unfortunately, that went out the window when they incorporated. The breadth and depth of what they should be cognizant of increased exponentially. Goes with the territory when deciding to put your big boy pants on. 

They just technically need a policy, communicate that policy, enforce said policy across the board fairly, and it can function as a shield from litigation. I mean, we already have a published sanctioned policy prohibiting dating threads based on some of the very concerns addressed here, yet there is a situation that Pirate Pony stated in which there was underage dating with the staff actually adjudicating based on legalities. 

That alone leaves them vulnerable to litigation, as well as the younger membership of this site. All someone has to claim is, we are just dating ... back off. Then share explicit photos, or try and set up a meeting ... and boom. 

Parents have found out about their 13 year old dating adults here. Not sure if this site wants to create a protective bubble around predators by giving said predator the ability to justify their actions by invoking 'dating' while they scheme. 

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I think all of this goes without saying that while there may not explicitly be laws that prohibit "dating" per se, getting involved in such a relationship is like walking a tightrope over a minefield. You are fraught on all sides by potentially illegal behavior, where one false move could put you in violation of the law. There's a reason why, even though in most cases there isn't a specific applicable law, they almost always arouse suspicion. In addition, some states have broad state laws that could apply responsibility to the adult if the minor commits an illegal act.

You can track an individual's behavior on one site, but it's hard to track them everywhere and ascertain whether any additional contact is happening off-site.

My only hope is that when these issues do come up, intervention can happen early enough that it can stop potentially illegal behaviors from happening, and that when people who get involved in these relationships are dealt with, that those involved have the good judgment to tell whether the person being dealt with is a person with a clear pattern of predatory behavior or if they're a relatively young adult with other issues that made an error in judgment and needs a different kind of intervention.

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This post may seem sporadic, because I'm typing fast and also furious.

Regarding having "mutual" relationships:

It may be mutual, but the adult has to realize that you have the mutuality of a child. Children under 18 (and some argue lower than 21...even 25) act on an undeveloped cognitive level. Children often have emotional and intellectual turmoil that they need to work out. Any responsible adult would recognize this and think of the child's well being and not their own.

I could go on about this all day (it's my field of study). On an elementary level, these kids cannot drive a car, get a job without parental permission, or do many a thing that adults cannot do. They do not have the decision making capacity of adults. But the argument is that they have the mental capacity to have a mutual relationship with an adult? No, they don't. The adult, however, knows this and has the ultimate responsibility and ability in this matter.

There are those who argue that at 18 it is unfair to have the responsibility to make massive life altering decisions like take out student loans or choose colleges, because even though legal adults, 18 year olds are still cognitively children.

If you are dating someone on a clearly different cognitive level than you, you are manipulating and causing harm to that child.

Also, predators often start their manipulation under the pretense of acceptable behavior. They offer things the victim wants. It's no different between those who target young children with candy and targeting older children with "love" and "companionship." They take expert knowledge of undeveloped psyche and take advantage of it for their own benefit.

And these type of non sexual love based relationship often leans that direction, either against the will of the child or under manipulation (sex will bring love and companionship from the older person, something they may lack in high school, or ugh, middle school).

And sometimes these situations lead to rape, or even murder.

Look at this tooncritic guy. Manipulated kids left and right. I'm sure he would also argue that it was mutual.

If Poniverse and its board of directors (I would not blame MLP Forums staff...trust me) take the stance that it is okay for the harboring of illegal relationships which may lead to the harm of their very members that they allow on this site under the pretense of protection, then the company deserves to be sued out of existence and those responsible to be held personally accountable. 

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14 hours ago, PiratePony said:

Also, predators often start their manipulation under the pretense of acceptable behavior. They offer things the victim wants. It's no different between those who target young children with candy and targeting older children with "love" and "companionship." They take expert knowledge of undeveloped psyche and take advantage of it for their own benefit.

This is the main concern I have with sitting behind the shield of "it's non sexual". I could overload this topic with a metric crap ton of valid psychological studies on how sexuality works in the vast majority of individuals under the age of 25. Let's be frank, when someone tells me that they haven't thought sexually about a person they are dating, it's mostly bullshit posturing so they can look more evolved and validate a false sense of self-worth. Everyone in this topic knows full well what MLPF member 'x' would be doing with pictures of underage 15 year old MLPF member 'y' if she sent him photos of her in a school girl costume.

Yep, this is an actual situation I was presented with on staff and I engaged the underaged member. I still have the Skype logs. The predatory nature of the situation led to a in depth investigation and ban of a prominent member of this forum that remains in force today. In a situation where nothing illegal is uncovered, in the past we flat out said, "stay away from the member".  It is a failsafe response that covers all situations. That is the least that this community should expect, and the least the management should implement. 

... 

Pirate, you and I may disagree on an specific age cut-off, but not on the general point. To adjudicate based on outliers like a non-sexually motivated underaged relationship is a bit dangerous. 

Also, glad to see you chiming in on this again. I was about ready to say, "look what you started ... get your butt in here and opine again."

 

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@Jeric honestly the age cutoff is a little gray for me also and a hard 18 might be too harsh for the young adults (who are still pretty much kids). I would never fault your daughter's boyfriend for his age, because at that age it's kind of a wash. What prompted this whole thing was situations involving almost 30 and over 30 having relationships with 14 and 15 year olds. A 19 year old barely has the ink on his high school diploma dry. 

Unless you're a substitute teacher or work in a school in some capacity and you're talking about a student then *shrug*. The real danger are the totally developed adults. 

And yeah I waited too long...but like what's her name in Monster's Inc., I'm always watching.

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I wanna point out that I have seen this post and intend to write up a response to it, but I've not been at home and am on mobile so I'm not exactly comfortable writing up a long winded response on the subject quite yet. I will be providing one as a clarification on Poniverse's policies as a whole once I make the clarification here. A short answer for now: We do take these sorts of issues seriously and I usually personally review them and make the decision on reporting people to the proper authorities based on the information that we have available.

I'll hopefully be able to have time tomorrow or Tuesday to give a better answer before my trip, if not I will have something up when I get the chance.

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Definitely appreciated @LadyMercury. I think the most important thing is for the community to have some sense of direction in what to report. 

 

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Alright. I'm back at a computer for a little while so I might as well type this up while I'm here.

As I made it clear earlier we do take issues like this seriously, and I do my best to handle them on a case by case basis and gather enough information each time to make an educated decision and sometimes it's hard because it's not always what you'd expect from the people you've known or at least thought you knew well. 

The barest minimum that I'm going to have enforced is Canadian law. That's the jurisdiction that we fall under, and without any other information given (Say it's refused when someone on staff investigates) that is what will be enforced here, because without that other information we can't outright assume otherwise. Canadian law says 16, that's the lower limit here without taking into account close-in-age groups.

That's not really the interesting part, but it gives a good baseline of what to look out for. The law regarding the close age groups states that a relationship can be held by someone under the age of 16 (14-15) with someone less than 5 years older than themselves. The logical way of looking at this (by myself) is that if you could've been in high school together it's not really outside your age group. I do usually take into account making sure that the parties haven't been doing anything questionable and look out for predatory practices, but the bare minimum is the law. 

On top of this, if information is provided from the users upon questioning and they are from countries that allow somewhat large variances in age groups that people are allowed to have relationships in I will take this into consideration and probably not enact punitive measures onsite, however I will ask that they take discussion of their relationship elsewhere and keep it in a private setting as it wouldn't do them any good to continue talking about it in the public eye. 

I'm doing my best to abstract my own personal opinions from this and make sure there's an understanding of what we have to follow. If you do see something suspicious it doesn't hurt to report it and get it looked at, as long as you're not spamming the report system with them. 

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Online predators coming in to pick up youngling, while youngling  show off that they are dating older people because it "tready", wouldn't be no surprise to me. But at the end, it is all-out wrong. If any suspensions or someone is making you uncomfortable report it.  Don't wait till the last minutes, that what the admins are here for. Don't worry about "oh what can the admin do? or "Oh they're just going to block them so what?" Little actions such as blocking them, can make a different in creating a safer forum. 

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