A new campaign from British Columbia’s Children of the Street Society is warning parents that their children might unwittingly be inviting sexual predators into their home via seemingly innocent online exchanges.
The province-wide campaign, part of the organization’s ongoing Predator Watch program, focuses on cellphones as a tool for potential sexual exploitation. The video and poster campaign debuted Monday and runs for six months.
Developed by Cossette Vancouver, the creative highlights the potential menace lurking behind seemingly innocent online exchanges.
A 30-second video spot titled “Hooked” opens on a young girl lying on her bed. When her phone dings to indicate an incoming text, she stands up to read a message asking about her day – the correspondence is shown in a series of on-screen text bubbles.
As the spot proceeds, the text bubble on the screen slowly begins lifting the girl’s skirt before the screen cuts to black and a super reading “A predator can sound a lot like a friend” appears.
The campaign builds on last year’s Just One Photo campaign (below), which outlined the danger of sharing an intimate photo online.
The three accompanying posters depict boys and girls reading seemingly innocent texts such as “I love that movie too” and “You have great taste in music,” while the text bubble starts to remove items of clothing.
According to Children of the Street Society, one in five children and youth are sexually solicited online, with 75% failing to report the incident to their parents. The organization said much of the solicitation occurs in private, via cellphones.
While parents typically place restrictions on home computer use, Children of the Street Society said cellphones are often not subject to the same limitations, providing an unmonitored gateway for sexual predators.
“We wouldn’t let a child drive a car without training and supervision, but we leave kids to figure out these powerful machines for themselves,” wrote Diane Sowden, the Children of the Street Society’s founder and executive director, in the Canadian Women’s Foundation fall 2014 report, From Heartbreaking to Groundbreaking: Stories and Strategies to end Sex Trafficking in Canada.
The campaign was developed in association with director Philip Jarmain and PostPro Media, with poster space in B.C.’s Lower Mainland donated by Outfront Media (formerly CBS Outdoor Canada) and Zoom Media.