Late Night: Pedophiles, Parks, and Playgrounds

Kids playing in Central Park, NYC

A few years ago I was at a children’s playground with my sister-in-law and my two nephews. The younger boy was about 3 years old. My sister-in-law usually reads while the kids are playing, but being a doting aunt, I like to hang out with them as much as I can.

This day that I’m talking about, a small man, probably in his 50s, was hanging around by himself, watching the kids. He was carrying what looked like a very expensive camera. He started following my 3-year-old nephew around, snapping numerous pictures of him. He even asked me how old my nephew was and said, “he’s such a beautiful boy.”

Right away I had a bad feeling about the guy, so I asked him what he was doing. He gave me a hokey story about wanting to try out his new camera. So why do that in a kids playground? I asked if one of the kids was his, and he said no. From that point on, I didn’t leave my nephew’s side, and eventually the guy moved on.

I tried to talk to my sister-in-law about this incident, but she kind of blew me off. She seemed to think it was no big deal that this older man was hanging around a kid’s playground taking pictures.

Tonight I read a blog post that validated the thoughts I was having that day–that the man taking pictures was a pedophile who could very well be trading his photos with other pedophiles on-line. Most people don’t realize that child pornography is big business–especially now that photos can be shared on the internet.

If you wish, you can read the post via a link at The Hinky Meter. When you click on the link, you’ll get a warning that the material in the post could be disturbing. I didn’t find it all that surprising, but as a psychologist I may be more familiar with the behavior of pedophiles than many other people are.

In case you choose not to read the post, I’ll just say that it describes an outing by young schoolchildren in New York’s Central Park and the efforts of several fathers to chase off men trying to photograph the kids. The solution I learned from the post is to take photos of these guys and let them know that you’re hanging onto pictures of their faces for future reference.

The man who confessed to murdering Leiby Kletzky had been observed staring at neighborhood children and hanging around schoolyards and playgrounds. Now, it is being reported that he previously tried to abduct other boys. I’m not sure what can be done about people like this. It’s not against the law to take pictures of children, so I guess parents and other caregivers need to be on the lookout for these sickos.

9 Comments on “Late Night: Pedophiles, Parks, and Playgrounds”

  1. Fannie says:

    Great Post – When these men are picked up, I am sure they take everything from their homes, computers, tapes, videos, and photos.

    I think that parents ought to be able to view those photos to see if their children are among those found in his home. And some cases, they bury buckets and boxes full of photos in their back yards, or in other safe places so they can review or sell them.

    I think it is a super ideal to bring your camera to the parks and get shots of those in park while you are there. You just never know. And good ideal for mothers/friends to gather together to inquire as to why an elderly man is taking photos of kids.

  2. JeanLouise says:

    A court in the Paccific Northwest (Seattle, I think) has ruled that a child pornographer who’s in jail and acting as his own attorney can view hundreds of hours of the child pornoghraphy that was collected from him when he was arrested. I was stunned when I read this.

    This judge or judges should be recalled.

    • bostonboomer says:

      The thing about these people defending themselves is that they get to cross examine their own victims. I don’t understand why it’s permitted.

  3. northwestrain says:

    Thank you for this post.

    Also for the advice you picked up about taking photos of the people taking photos.

    This is so creepy — and probably why I get so upset seeing children being groped at the airport. No 6 year old child should be exposed to this. Children need to have a childhood.

    The flip side is that children can be taught to be fearful of all adults. I’ve witnessed this — and read that this side effect is common. To combat this a real security expert has advised parents to teach children to head for middle aged women or safe looking women if the child becomes lost (or worse case is kidnapped and manages to get away.)

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s really sad. I know it’s because I have a lot of knowledge about this stuff, but I watch my nephews like a hawk when I take them out. Luckily, they kind of think of me as a friend, so they don’t seem to mind me sticking close to them.

  4. boogieman7167 says:

    hmmmm as far i know there’s nothing illegal about taking pics at a playground

  5. Branjor says:

    Guys who hang around playgrounds and other places where kids go and take pictures of them really are majorly creepy and to be watched. I read this lengthy post about a guy in Seattle who does that some years ago.