Much has been written over the years about the importance of practicing safety when it comes to online dating. After all, a bit of caution can help people prevent themselves from falling victim to practices like catfishing, romance scams, and dating violence. However, something that we often do not think about is the presence of predators on online dating apps. A recent sex crime arrest from the state of Indiana casts concern on this issue.
Man Arrested For Sending Sexual Messages to Minor
This case occurred in the Indiana town of Sellersburg, which is located near the border with Kentucky. It actually begins with a group aimed at addressing sexual predators named Exposing Predators of Indiana’s Children. These types of vigilante groups set up fake profiles in hopes of finding sexual predators and have been becoming more prevalent in recent years.
In this case, the group set up several fake profiles on a number of dating apps including the gay hookup app Grindr. A man named Malcum Robinson was identified as matching with one of the fake profiles which pretended to be a 15 year old young male. During messages between the organization and Robinson, it was stated several times that the person Robinson thought he was communicating with was 15.
The conversation made its way off of the app and into text messages while also changing to being sexual in nature. At this time, Robinson organized a time for the young man and another 15 year old – also a fake profile from the group – to come to his home in order to engage in sexual contact. Instead, members of Exposing Predators of Indiana’s Children arrived at his home, informing him that they were who he had actually been texting.
The texts were then turned over to the local police department which arrested Robinson on sex crime charges. Police noted that Robinson admitted his actions as well as knowing that the person he sent the inappropriate photos to was 15. A court date has not been set.
Lessons For Dating App Users
This sex crime story is a bit different from some of the more common cautionary tales that are heard about dating app scandals. However, it serves to reinforce an important point. While dating apps are great places for meeting others, they are also venues that sexual predators can use in order to try to find victims including underage children.
Users of dating apps should take some extra caution when deciding to meet people on dating apps. This involves typical safeguards such as meeting in a public place and telling someone where you are going. Another important tip involves doing a basic google search on people before meeting them. Users should also familiarize themselves with the various safety features of apps.
Additionally, those with children should consider speaking with their kids about the dangers of dating apps. While the vast majority of dating apps do not allow anyone under the age of 18, it can be relatively easy for a minor to access a dating app by lying about their age. Helping teenagers understand the dangers is important, particularly in light of the issues exposed by this case.
Recommendations For Dating Apps
This case truly shines a light on how easy it can be for sexual predators to use dating apps to access victims. While online dating apps typically have policies preventing children from accessing dating apps, there are not many security precautions put in place to prevent children from creating accounts with fake ages. While this is undoubtedly a difficult problem to address, apps should make it a focus to identify innovative ways to prevent this.
Additionally, online dating apps should work to better strengthen their safeguards to protect their users from sexual predators and other people who could cause harm. Some apps have begun partnering with background check services to provide rapid background reports to people. This is a useful tactic that could at least help protect against predators who have existing arrests.
Online dating companies could also consider working to develop algorithms that would monitor conversations on apps for signs that one of the participants is a minor. Flagged conversations could be reviewed, which could help remove minors from the site. Of course, the companies themselves could likely come up with more creative and effective solutions.
Ultimately, this case highlights the need for people to protect themselves when it comes to dating apps while also showing a strong need for apps to take steps to protect against sexual predators as well as the ability of minors to access the apps.